Black bean brownies with salted caramel and toasted coconut {guilt-free and low-fat}

 

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I hate beans.

I think it stems back to when I was little. I remember going to a Mexican restaurant with my dad and (at the time) stepsister and stepmother. The next thing I remember is my stepsister throwing up refriend beans later that night all over the carpet in her bedroom. That image has since been engraved in my head… for the past 13 years. I have even convinced myself that every time I eat beans I’m going to throw them up too. That being said, I’m now about to contradict that statement because I have found a guilt-free brownie recipe that’s high in fiber, protein, antioxidants and is absolutely delicious! And– the catch? It’s made with black beans!

 

photo (36)The past month and a half I have been working my butt off…literally. I am going to Vegas this coming weekend and I’ve been trying really hard to watch what I eat and push myself harder than I ever have at the gym. And my hard work has finally paid off! I am down 10 pounds since March and am in the best shape of my life. The one thing that has been a struggle though is cutting out the sweets. I LOVE pancakes (as you know), baked breads, cupcakes, cookies, brownies. You name it, chances are I love it. But this past week I decided I needed some sugar back in my life. So I researched and researched and found healthier alternatives you can use in baking…for example…instead of butter, applesauce. Instead of flour, ground oats. Instead of cake batter, black beans. So I figured I may as well give it a shot! And I ended up creating a recipe that was so good, my roommate and I ate the whole batch in one day! You would never be able to tell they’re made with black beans because they’re so fudgey and chocolatey. And stick some caramel in there and sprinkle sea salt on top? DONE! That’s why you too need to make this recipe. NOW!

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Pizza with gorgonzola, fresh figs, smoked prosciutto, arugula and balsamic glaze {organic, healthy and the best homemade pizza you’ll ever have}

Once upon a time I had a dream that I went to Whole Foods and spent under $100.00. Bad news is that still remains a dream. Good news is I left with the ingredients that made the BEST PIZZA EVER!

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I’ve always been a fan of pizza with a tomato-based sauce.  I’ve never cared much for white pizzas. My favorite part of a slice of pizza, aside from that first super cheesy bite where the cheese always manages to come off of the entire slice and land on my white shirt, or right next to where the napkin is, is that bite right before the crust where it’s just a well-done sauce. I don’t need anything fancy, just a plain cheese slice with some red pepper flakes and some  garlic powder. Unless you’re my roommate Alex, who in Austin, Texas, after a night of having one too many, dumped an entire jar of garlic powder on her slice of plain pizza, and not remembering she did it herself, blamed the pizza place for making a pizza with too much garlic. The best part about that? The new perfume scent in our hotel room that followed us into the cab the next morning… that made its way onto the plane. Those poor passengers…

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Anyway, this pizza. OMG. The nuttiness of the arugula with the bitterness of the gorgonzola with the smokiness of the prosciutto that resembles a crispy slice of bacon perfectly paired with the mild sweetness of the fig and on top of it all?! The sweetness of the balsamic glaze that brings all of the flavors together perfectly. It’s honestly one of the best combinations of flavors I’ve ever had in one bite. Have you ever watched Food Network and pictured yourself competing on one of the shows? Well I always do and I picture If I ever had to make an amuse bouche to win a competition this would be it. This would be the one bite that would win me $10,000 on Chopped. Or the bite that would make me the Next Food Network Star. Or at least one step closer to meeting Michael Symon. What? He’s a famous chef AND he has tattoos! What more could you ask for?

Anyway…on with the recipe for the best homemade pizza. Ever.

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Oat and banana flax pancakes

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What better way to start my blog than with a confession. It’s like a therapy session…only there’s no one talking back, or sitting across from me taking notes…and I don’t have to write a check at the end of the session!

But, really. If I’m going to share with the world my passions, my favorite things in life, my thoughts and feelings…I may as well get it all out in the open in the beginning, right?

Ok, anyway. On with the confession.

…Drumroll please….

I have an obsession with pancakes.

No…seriously. It’s a sick obsession. I wake up and think about pancakes. I determine the brunch spot by the pancakes on the menu. When I’m stressed, I make pancakes. When I’ve had a few drinks and it’s 2 am and there’s a pizza joint across the street, I go home and make pancakes. Before I can go on a first date, one of my first questions to him is if he can make pancakes. And on top of it all, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these pancakes I ate one morning before snowboarding at Hunter Mountain in New York. Forget the frostbite, forget the bruises, forget wiping out after getting off the lift and bruising my tailbone, but my goodness. I could never forget those pancakes!

This is the place that changed my outlook on pancakes forever.

Maggie's

And this is the pancake that changed my life forever.

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My mouth is watering just looking at this picture! Who would have thought, a cafe in the middle of nowhere Tannersville, NY with Krooked floors that makes you feel like you’ve had one too many to drink when walking to the restooms, would have created such a masterpiece. I mean, really. Just look at that beauty! A perfect mixture of oats and toasted grains, bananas, flax. It’s like a mouth-watering dream come true!

I have tried for months and months to re-create these pancakes. I’ve even called there pretending I had a food allergy and asking if they could tell me what’s in them. I’ve tried blowing up the picture and studying it until I thought I needed a new eyeglass prescription! But they refuse to tell me what’s in them. Well, listen here Maggie’s…you don’t want to tell me, fine. YOUR LOSS. I’ll just create my own version!

And so I did.  Continue reading