A brownie taste-test

Greetings from the kitchen! I just want to start this blog post by thanking you all for reading over the last week or two. I’ve gotten a few emails giving me some great recipe suggestions, and some supportive feedback on my quest for healthier living, and it’s been so nice to know that you are taking the time to read about my journey. Especially after this last week that I’ve had, where it’s been hard to deny or compartmentalize the fact that I have cancer.

I don’t often have a lot of energy, which I think is a combination of having a very stressful job as a social worker, where I spend all day every day listening to other people’s (sometimes extremely serious) problems, plus the emotional and physical toll that having cancer has taken on my body over the last year. So when I do, I try and get in the kitchen to tinker around with some new and healthy recipes.

Recently I tried a raw brownie recipe. What made me to decide to ditch the usual ingredients? Well, I still have a sweet tooth, despite having cancer, and if I can fulfill that craving with ingredients that are a little bit healthier, then hallelujah! Does that mean that I’ll never have the “real” stuff ever again? Absolutely not. But if I can more often than not reach for something on the occasion when I want dessert that actually has some plant-protein, then all the better.

So as I mentioned recently, I’ve been following Ella Woodward at Deliciously Ella, and after watching her video on raw brownies, (Watch her YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnrJOJnSez4), I decided that would be an easy one to start off with. It literally takes 5 minutes to put together, and it’s a total of 4 ingredients. I was going to start with the sweet potato brownies, as I also mentioned in a recent blog post, but my friend EM gave me some good advice to start off with something that actually tastes a little bit more like a brownie (yeah, I had a feeling that the sweet potato brownie recipe probably wouldn’t).

The ingredients that you’d need to try this at home are: Medjool dates (which she insists really have to be medjool. However, SHL could only find regular pitted dates at the store, and they worked just beautifully), raw cocao powder (though I only had cocoa powder, which again was fine, though I needed to add just a little bit more than she advises. I am new to this way of eating, so am looking at the differences between raw cacao vs. unsweetened cocoa; one tid-bit that I’ve read says that “cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.” – See more at: http://iquitsugar.com/raw-cacao-vs-cocoa-whats-the-difference/#sthash.lrsg5MBG.dpuf, so I may need to look at buying some raw cocao), pecans (she says that you can use any nut, really, but because pecans have that caramel flavor, they’re great for brownies), and then the sweetener is optional. She uses pure maple syrup, but all I had in the house was agave, and that seemed to do the trick. In a food processor, you pulse a cup of the pecans for about 20 seconds or so, until they’re crushed, but not as fine as flour. Then you put in 2 cups of the dates (pits out), 2-3 tablespoons of the cocao powder, depending upon how mild or dark you like your chocolate, and 1-2 tablespoons of the sweetener, if you’re using that. You mix it in the processor until it forms almost a ball, and then pat it into your baking pan. Freeze for an hour and viola! You have raw brownies!
Pecans After raw brownies

Once they come out of the oven, you stick them in the freezer for about an hour to chill, and then cut and serve. I have to admit, SHL was picking at these right when I sliced them, and he’s not even much of a chocolate person! He says that he likes them even more than my “real” brownies! (Which admittedly have chocolate chips in them, so they’re very chocolatey). And I loved them too! While they don’t taste like a fudgy brownie, they’re sweet enough to be able to feel like you’re indulging in a real treat (in fact one night SHL was eating cookies in milk in bed and I was having a raw brownie, and I wasn’t even feeling like I was missing out on anything!), and the dates give it a nice ooey gooey textute. (I didn’t know that I liked dates, either. It’s exciting to be trying some new foods).

A few days after I made these raw brownies, I asked some friends for other comparable recipes that I may try, and my good friend EM in Seattle recommended that I try something called Paleo Coco Nutty Brownies. She got the recipe here, and I don’t think has tried them yet herself: http://www.paleobrownies.com/coco-nutty-paleo-brownies/.

This is what you’ll need to make ’em: Ingredients for brownies

I had some of the ingredients at home (organic eggs, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, almonds, and honey– though I didn’t have raw honey, and again, I’ll need to figure out the difference). What I needed was coconut flour, applesauce, and coconut oil. I was excited to have these new ingredients in my pantry (that is, before I took the “brownies” — if you can call them that– out of the oven!). Especially the coconut oil. It’s strange at first to be cooking with something that feels like shea butter, but I’ve heard that it can be amazing for skin, hair, and nails. Any tips on that please let me know!

Now of course I licked the spoon, excited at all of the yummy goodness in my bowl (uh, brownies with coconut? Only 2 of my very favorite things!), but I was disappointed at what I tasted, which quite honestly, was not a whole lot. Here is what they look like all cut up and ready to eat:
Paleo brownies

And how do they taste?! Blehhhh! Let’s just say, I couldn’t get more than a bite down. They taste like they have no chocolate flavor, and a whole lot of coconut oil, which is thick and doesn’t taste like butter, that’s for sure! (I guess it’s not supposed to). The verdict? Ding ding ding ding ding! We have the raw brownies miles ahead of the Paleo brownies (I saved you making them yourself EM!).

Despite the fact that the Paleo brownies are inedible, it was still a fun taste-test. Any others that I should try here in my kitchen? Comment here or email me please with any ideas!

Love and healthy eating,
Sam xoxo

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