Ultra Fudgy Moist Brownies

I do not usually post two dessert posts because I hardly make them, but I guess I was craving chocolate this past weekend. I think I mentioned a few days ago stating that I felt like making brownies from a cookbook but decided against it since it had way too much Earth Balance margarine and way too much sugar. My whole brownie craving turned around when I saw Angela's post on August 27th. I truly felt like she had read my mind when I posted that I was craving healthy brownies. Her adaption of Ricki Heller's recipe from Sweet Freedom was AMAZING!

Now if you take a look at the ingredient list you might be a little skeptical but I have to tell you that Ryan and I thought these were the best vegan brownies. I had tried others and not been successful. Here are some of the ingredients I used in addition to some maple syrup I recently received from Maple Syrup World that is based in Canada. It was probably the purest maple syrup I have tasted in a while and was a great addition to make this brownie naturally sweetened. Check out their site.

This was a super quick recipe to put together and only took 20-25 minutes to bake.

I decided to add Purely Decadent Mint Chip Coconut Ice Cream (made by Turtle Monutain) for the ultimate experience.

I would take adjust the sweetness for next time only because I have not been eating sweets. Even without the ice cream it was a tad bit too sweet. If you like dark chocolate this is the recipe for you. After these finished baking , there was a nice crust that formed on the top. It was a definite win and stays in my recipe box. Try them tonight!

Ultra Fudgy Moist Brownies

adapted from Oh She Glows and Sweet Freedom

makes 9 wedges (using a 9x9 glass dish)

1 small avocado (1/4 cup packed)
3/4 cup Sucanat
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp ground chia seeds (or ground flax)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp instant espresso granules
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 walnuts, crushed (my addition)
1 1/4 cup whole grain spelt flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 9x9 glass dish pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently smash the avocado with a fork or potato masher to break apart.  Add the Sucanat, maple syrup, oil, chia, vanilla extract, and espresso and mix until smooth.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the spelt flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix by hand until just mixed. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture onto the baking pan using a spatula. The batter will be VERY THICK so work with the batter until spread evenly in the pan.
Once smooth, place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes and no more. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and cut with a knife.


Lime Cream Parfaits with Coconut-Lime Crumble {Coconut Secret Review}

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Today proved to be a beautiful day in the neighborhood until 1pm and then the heat came back to Michigan and the fans were turned on. It was gorgeous and cool when I woke up 8am this morning to get ready for a 2 hour Zumba class. Can you believe that this was a 2 hour class? Actually some instructors came from Grand Rapids to teach us technical steps for each latin dance, like merengue, cha cha, salsa, belly dancing, and more. Then we dance to the music with all the steps. It felt like were in a club in broad daylight and it was even more intense than a regular Zumba class. I hope the gym repeats this Saturday class again! I think I might have burned 1,000 calories in 2 hours just moving my hips, legs, and whole body. There really is nothing like moving to good music.

Since I been working out almost twice a day almost every week (becasue I want to), I have not been feeling terribly hungry and for that matter I have not been craving bad foods, like white bread, pastas, or even sugar. I have been forcing myself to take my protein shakes so I can have my energy and supplements at the same time. One thing though that I have been doing is listening to what my body wants.

My naturopath told me that when my body craves a certain thing it is because I am missing a certain mineral or vitamin. I have read other articles stating that this is a myth, but who is to say it is NOT correct. Have you ever had a charlie horse? One of those horrific spasms that hits your leg where you feel immobilized? I have heard and read it is because the body lacks potassium. What has potassium? Bananas. I crave bananas once in a while and I cannot help but think that craving something natural does NOT indicate what the body needs. I think God designed our bodies to have a natural balance and intake of foods that God has created for us to ingest. So if the body tells me to eat an orange, will I ignore this and say, "No, you have to much acidity and I cannot have you!" well....this might mbe far fetched but here is a website that supports my statement. Food Cravings article.

What do you think?

I listened to my body yesterday and made a raw dessert with limes. I was craving limes and decided to obey it. I recently received several products from Coconut Secret called Raw Coconut Nectar and Raw Coconut Crystals.
These 2 products are made from the sap of coconut tree blossoms. They are raw, gluten-free, vegan and contain 17 Amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is a low glycemic liquid sweetener and even MORE nutritious than agave nectar.

Did you know that even some agave nectar contains High Fructose Corn Syrup??? Yikes, I know! I took advantage of using these products in a raw dessert that I was craving. How could I have craved something I have never have? Here is the recipe for a quick raw dessert that even Ryan loved and said he enjoyed. The only let down is the color. Who can help the color of the lime cream? Ryan thought it looked like pea soup which I told him that it seemed silly. It had fruit, lime cream and a delicious crumbles. See for yourself!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Lime Cream Parfaits with Coconut-Lime Crumble

serves 2

Coconut-Lime Crumble
2/3 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon organic lime zest
5 dates
1/3 cup Coconut Secret Coconut Crystals

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until it resembles wet sand. Set aside.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Lime Cream
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
zest of 1 lime
4 Tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup + 3 Tablespoons Coconut Secret Coconut Nectar

Place all ingredients in the food processor and whip until really blended and creamy. Adjust sweetness according to preference but I liked the cream tangy with a little sweetness. 

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Choose parfait glasses that holds 1/2 cup of space. Start with 2 Tablespoons of lime cream, then layer with 2 Tablespoons of the coconut crumble and layer with choice fruit, like bluberries or strawberries. The layer with more crumble and top off with 2 more Tablespoons of lime cream. Sprinkle with crumble and fruit. Enjoy! I ate it SLOWLY.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen


Deconstructed Cajun Black Bean Burgers with Sweet Potato Oven Fries

What a morning! After a great workout and an awesome instructor what more could a girl ask for? Well, why not a cherry smoothie? 
Cherry season is almost over and the leaves have started changing ALREADY! Ask me if I am ready for fall yet. Ask me if I am ready for winter. Actually, the summer weather has been a mix of different temperatures and I really do not have any complaints at all. God gives us the weather and I am thankful for it,especially when I can get my dose of Vitamin D.

Speaking about vitamins, let me give you an update on how I have been feeling since being almost on 2 months of supplements, protein powders, and minerals. I want thank GOD for helping with my heat and exercise induced migraines. Since I started my Vitamin B12 I have not hat a migraine and my workouts have been SO much more easier. Ryan says I am in so much better shape than before so this is why it is easier, but I also attribute it to the vitamins. I feel so energetic and hardly ever feel a slump in the day. What a world of difference from just a few months ago. All it takes is a  natural adjustment and supplementing of vitamins and minerals that the body asks for and things start aligning themselves. My conviction has been one where God asks us to love ourselves and to take care of this body He has given us for the short time we have on this earth. No more guilt for me folks and no more abuse.

Since I have been concentrating on more whole foods and less carbs, new recipes keep coming in my mind. Last night, despite being home alone, I decided to make something delicious and creative. A few days ago I talked about the same types of food that are available to vegans at Mexican restaurants, well how about I talk about foods available at pubs and burger places? Not too much to offer except for a "veggie" burger or otherwise known as a "mystery" veggie burger. Sometimes I wonder what all those because they all seem sometimes generic. Who likes generic. Take Chili's restaurants. I like that they offer BOCA burgers and a Black Bean burger because at least that is more than one choice. I have a local tap room that serves a delicious veggie burger that is created by the chef, but otherwise, every other place has the same patty.

Last night I decided to try my hand at my own black bean burger with a Cajun flair. It was gluten-free and full of veggies. I left off the bun, thus the deconstructed part, and placed the burger on a bed of fennel / romaine lettuce with then a layer of tomatoes and avocado. Nothing can be too compelete without the fries so I made the low glycemic option of potatoes by making sweet potato. Regular potatoes have too much sugar so sweet potatoes are the better option.

Deconstructed Cajun Black Bean Burgers

makes 5 patties

1 15-ounce can black beans
1/2 cup cilantro
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and deveined
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1/2 beet, julienned or shredded
1 carrot, julienned or shredded
1 Tablespoon Creole Seasonings* (see below)
2 Tablespoons Hemp Seeds
2 garlic cloves

In a food processor, shred the carrot and beet and set aside in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of beans to mixture.
Add the rest of the beans to the food processor and add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until pureed.
Add bean mixture to the shredded veggies and combine well. Form 5 patties.
Heat a nonstick skillet with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and cook 3 patties at a time for 3-5 minutes on each side on medium heat. Repeat with the rest of the patties and serve.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning

yields 2/3 cup

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Fennel Salad
serves 1

1 cup fennel, thinly sliced
1/2 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1/8 cup red onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and massage the salad for 3 minutes.

Place the salad on the plate and place one pattie on top. Add sliced tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle with choice sauce, like BBQ if desired. Serve with Sweet Potato Fries.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

serves 2

1 large sweet potato, sliced
1 Tablepoon Creole Seasoning
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients and spread potatoes over cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Deconstructed Cajun Black Bean Burgers With Sweet Potato Oven Fries


Fried Green Tomatillos and a Winner!

Hi folks! I believe that I forgot to place a deadline for signing up for the Coconut Concentrate giveaway. Since I think I got everyone that I think WAS interested in receiving a bottle of this great product, the random.org site picked a winner for me this morning. Erica from Discovering Raw is our winner. I hope you enjoy the bottle of Coconut Concentrate!

This past weekend I was challenged to really stay on course with eating healthy. Followign a vegan lifestyle CAN be pretty rough if there is not advance preparation. By preparation, I mean mental preparation. Do I indulge in carbs the whole day because there are no choices or do I hold out and try to sneak in a grocery store run in order to preapre something in a hurry?

During this past weekend I knew that we were going to a softball game / cookout so knowing what was available last year I decided to prepare a quick meal. I was able to find a Whole Foods to buy a few items, items that would not require for me to cook. I decided to buy the following:

Do you know that these items cost 6 bucks? I survived on this hummus for breakfast on two days which I also ate with these amazing rice cakes.

I placed all the fresh veggies and blackbeans in a bowl and tossed with a little salt and lime juice. I was working with minimal ingredients BUT you know, this made for a filling meal. The cookout consisted of hot dogs and hamburgers and chips and all but this bean salad heald me over in addition to the veggies and potatoe salad that someone had brought to the picnic. You can survive, but it means setting one's mind on doing what you gotta do in order to not gorge on carbs. So easy to do too!

Before I left on our trip I worked on a quick recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes. It was the day before we left and I did not want to cook anything heavy or have any leftovers, so I decided to make Fried Green Tomatoes for the first time.
As a starter, I made a raw soup that had kale, avocado, coconut water,tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, and a few more items. I then quickly sauteed some white mushrooms with EVOO and balsamic vinegar and stuffed them with hummus.
I then started the green tomato frying. I try not to fry often but when I do it is something good you know? Well, when is something fried NOT good. I really did not have green tomatoes but I used 6 small tomatillos for this recipe.

I used coconut oil to fry the tomatillos and added a little more salt to the recipe since these seemed to be a little more tart. The recipe is gluten-free and uses tapioca flour instead of regular flour.
Fried Green Tomatillos

inspired by Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen

serves 2
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon arrowroot
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
6 medium tomatillos, husks removed and washed

Heat 1/2 cup coconut oil in a frying pan under medium heat.

Combine the water and ground flax seeds in a bowl whip with a fork until well combined. Pour into a pie dish and allow to sit for a few minutes in order for it to thicken.

In another pie plate, combine the rest of the ingredients (except for the tomatoes). Cut tomatoes into slices about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Dip a tomato slice in the flax-water,on each side, and place slice into cornmeal mixture. Press lightly to assure that bottom of slice is covered with cornmeal and turn to coat other side.

When all tomato slices are coated, place them in the coconut oil and fry for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately!


Green Chili Hummus and Veggie Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

I am very happy to be back home after a long weekend with family. The weather was fantastic with only one evening of torrential rains. I was able to meet my father-in-law's extended family and enjoyed meeting them since most of them had not been able to make it to our wedding over 2 years ago. I especially was happy to see Ryan's grandmother again. She gave me a huge hug around the neck. It sure does feel good to feel loved and to give love. She put me in charge of taking family pictures at the end of our last day in Chi-town so that she could have updated pictures of her grand-kids. An additional picture was taken with grandma with the significant others. It was also the perfect sunny day in Chicago too!

On our way home we realized we left at the right time since we lose an hour going to Michigan. We made a quick stop at Whole Foods since I had my list of items that I needed to replenish. Whole Foods is still cheaper to me than our health food stores in East Lansing,so a girl has to take advantage, you know? I grabbed dessert on the way out that looked quite interesting. I like parfaits so I decided to grab this one:

The chocolate pudding was creamy and thick and made with TOFU! I was so suprised because it really tasted delicious. It had a nut crumble with cinnamon, nuts, coconut and cardamon. That spice surely surprised me for sure.
Now that I have been back home, it meant I could cook again. I was probably more disciplined on this trip than in others and was happy I was able to be strict with myself. This only meant that I could not wait to make something homemade and delicious at home.

Last night I decided to make a Southwestern dish using a green chili sauce that my friend in New Mexico had sent me for my birthday back in March. I had used another bottle to add to tofu scrambles so I was glad I had one more to make other dishes.
I used this to make a Green Chili Hummus and I also added it to my Tomatillo Sauce. It really gave both dishes a nice touch without being overwhelming at all.

I do not know about you, but when I go to Mexican restaurants I get tired of getting the SAME veggie fajitas. All owners seem to call each other to find out what veggie fajitas look like. They consist of very few mushrooms and tons of green peppers and onions. I think that kind of stinks. If I am spending almost the same amount of money for fajitas as chicken fajitas then I should be getting zucchini and other veggies. Ir enchiladas. Vegan or vegetarian enchiladas are usually potatoes or spinach. How BORING is this?

This is why I decided to make this enchilada dish because there needs to be some sort of creativity with chefs and cooks out in the foodie world. I decided to add 1 Tbsp of hummus to a corn tortilla and then fill it with sauteed veggies. I rolled them up like taquitos and then poured some tomatillo sauce over them and sprinkled pine nuts on them. I have to say that this dish was SO GOOD! I was pleased with the creation. You can use any veggie mix you want so be creative.

Green Chili Hummus and Veggie Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

serves 4 (3 to 4 tortillas per person)

Green Chili Hummus
 (makes 1 1/2 cups)
1 12-ounce can chickpeas (reserve 1 Tbsp)
1 Tablespoon raw tahini paste
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 cloves garlic
4 Tablespoon green chilis
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 Teaspoons olive oil

Blend in a Vitamix or in a food processor until creamy. You will have leftover hummus to snack on for the rest of the week.
Tomatillo Sauce
1 1/2 lb. fresh tomatillo (green tomatoes with husks)
2 serrano peppers, seeded
6 Tablespoons green chili
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste (1 tsp)
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sugar

Rinse tomatillos under warm water. Core the tomatillos and cut in quarters. Slice and partially seed serrano peppers. In a food processor or Vitamix, liquefy tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, and green chiles.

Heat olive oil on medium skillet. Add sauce to hot oil and add lime juice, water, salt, sugar, vinegar and cumin. Boil the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes minutes. Add cilantro at the end and set aside.

Veggie filling (Use your own veggie mixture and be creative)
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1/2 red onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat olive oil in medium skillet and place veggies and spices and saute' for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Warm tortillas. An average serving would be 4 enchiladas per person. Place 1 Tablespoon of hummus in the middle of the tortilla and spoon 1 1/2 Tablespoon of the veggie mixture and roll.

Pour 1/4 cup to 1/2cup of sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with a side green salad.


A Steamy Cubs Game and Good Eats

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
After an adventurous day at Irish Fest on Thursday, Friday proved to be filled lots of more events. We headed from Milwaukee to Chicago after a quick run to Starbucks. My brother-in-law's girlfriend works for Starbucks so the whole family enjoyed delicious cold and hot coffee at a nice discount. :)

We arrived a few hours early in order to grab a good seat on the bleachers since it was all open seating. Last year we had great seats so we decided that those would be the perfect seats again. I found out that I could take my Nalgene water bottle so I could fill up at the water fountain so I packed that. (This was better than loading up on pop, you know!) I also packed up contraband. A nice Peanut Butter Larabar and...

some roasted almonds with my protein powder in a reusable to-go container. It all fit in my small wallet so I was very happy.
There we sat in the bleachers for over an hour watching the Braves and the Cubs warm up.

The non-ticket holders were standing outside the ball park fighting over stray balls. It was very comical indeed.
There were actually 5-7 baseballs that made it over so it was a fun playhouse for these grown men. The game was relatively low key until the 8 inning when it looked like it was possible that the Cubs were going to win the game.

But alas, as I predicted, the Braves came through and scored 2 home runs on the Cubs. It was another depressing game for the fans. Even though I had to take breaks from the intense heat, I returned after the 7 inning when some thunder clouds covered the scorching sun. I was already tanned I have to say but my water kept me hydrated for sure! I DID enjoy a salted pretzel since that seemed to be the only concession food option I could choose. I know it was white flour but I enjoyed it with mustard and knew that it was not something I was doing for a LONG time.

Are you the type to sneak in your own food or do you load up on carbs??

After the game ended, we traveled an hour to get to our restaurant reservations near Rockford. I knew by then I would be famished and craving some greens and protein. I feel like I have been more patient with myself, choosing the right foods when nothing much was available. When I am the only vegan among 7 family members, my choices tend to be on the slim side. My mother-in-law was in charge of choosing the restaurant and she sent me the menu link and asked if the place had enough choices. I looked like I could deal with it and be creative.

Weber Grill Restaurant is a steakhouse and grill with actual grilling stations as we entered the place. It was a very stylish place and smelled really nice. It was kind of strange enjoying that smell since I have not had meat in a while.

The place offered grilled vegetable skewers, steam spinach, steamed broccoli, grilled mushrooms and a veggie burger as vegan options. I tried to concoct a dish and asked the waiter if it would be an issue. I technically asked if I could have the veggie burger, bunless, with grilled mushrooms and onions (in oil) and a side of the grilled vegetables skewers. Since I had a pretzel and a roll at the game and at the restaurant I figured I did not need anymore carbs.

The waiter returned and said that my choice would be doable. Our evening was full of laughs and conversation until the eats came around. My veggie patty turned out to be a patty made from brown rice and black beans with some veggies, but it came on the pretzel bun. Well that was easily resolved. This patty was very crumbly and would not have made a good burger but it was great on its own. The mushrooms and onions were OUT of this world and the skewers were a mix of squash, pineapple, red onions, and mushrooms. The iced tea was fantastic made with tropical black leaves. All in all, I feasted well and enjoyed it. If you end up in the area, this is a can-do vegan place even if it means being limited.

No problems with the tummy!
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