Category Archives: 3-Eat

Protein Packed Black Bean Brownies

Just like Mom used to make.  Well…not exactly, but updating the time-honored tradition of baking brownies offers us a brand spanking new opportunity to add more protein to our diet in a seriously yummy way.  With beans, eggs, and your favorite protein powder, this is a power packed recipe.  With today’s modern appliances, mixing up some brownie batter has never been easier.  Ready for easy delicious fun, then roll up your sleeves and let’s get baking.

The Recipe

Ingredients
1 can of black beans
3eggs
1/2 cup butter
4 Tablespoons Cocoa
3 scoops of your favorite protein powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup of dates

Method
Rinse beans.

Add beans and other ingredients to the blender. Blend to the consistency of brownie batter.

Kitchen tip: To soften up the dates, so that they blend well.  Put then in a small saucepan.  Add just enough water to cover the dates. Bring water to a boil.  After +/- 1 minute of boiling, the skins will split and the dates will be soft. Drain the water.  The dates will now blend smoothly.

Additional Ingredients: After the batter is mixed, you can fold in lots of goodies.  Dark chocolate chips and shredded coconut are favorites. Or, you can add half a block of cream cheese to make marbled brownies.

Make a parchment paper sling for an 8″ x  8″ baking tin (or grease the tin with butter). Pour the batter into the tin.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or until a test toothpick comes out clean).

Cutting

For perfectly cut brownies, after baking, put the tin in the freezer for two hours.  After chilling, lift the uncut brownies out using the parchment paper and place on a cutting board or cutting sheet. Then, use a pizza wheel to cut straight lines, without any crumbling.  If you notice brownie accumulating on the pizza cutter, rinse it off with hot water, then continue.

Eating

After a workout with a glass of milk is a good option.  Sometimes I put a dollop of peanut butter on top too.  They are easy to wrap and bring with you to work, the gym, or for after the game.

Storing

If you don’t scarf down all the brownies in one sitting, make sure you refrigerate them for proper storage.  Leaving them on the counter is not a good idea, as they can get moldy.  Word to the wise.

There you have it a new twist on an old favorite.  With quality and convenience, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.  Mom’s all smiles, as you honor the past by preserving this classic tradition…and, after one taste of these delicious protein packed black bean brownies, you’re gym buddies will stop teasing you about wearing an apron.

For related STRETCH EXERCISE EAT posts SEE:

Going With Option 3 – DIY LÄRABARS

EAT: Weird and Wonderful Avocados

Protein Cookies That Don’t Suck

Jamaican Carrot Juice – The Remix

photo by: HaoJan

Do you eat a wide variety of foods? After 6 weeks of tracking my food (just what I eat, not how much), I’ve discovered that I don’t. I am a very consistent (read as boring) eater. At breakfast, this lack of variety stems from an efficient routine that builds a meal in a limited amount of time. The problem: How to add a dash of variety to breakfast without upsetting the morning routine? Here is one way that I have succeeded in doing this.

healthy Jamaican carrot juice

Inspired by a recommendation to try traditional Jamaican carrot juice, I came up with my own breakfast recipe:

Ingredients:
1/2 can of coconut milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup frozen mango

Method:
Step 1 – In the order listed above, place ingredients in blender.
Step 2 – Start blender on lowest setting and cycle through to high.
Step 3 – Blend for 30s on high.
Step 4 – Pour, drink, enjoy!

I don’t strain out the carrot pulp.  Too much work.  I swapped coconut milk for the traditional sweet condensed milk and the frozen mangoes for the traditional brown sugar.  The mangoes make the drink sweet enough for me, but if you don’t have mangoes, substitute orange juice (you probably won’t need a whole cup – add a little at a time until you get the right consistency).

My next experiment…adding half a beet to this recipe for a healthy morning Madras.

more:
How to Mix a Madras
No Blend – Double Deuce Carrot Juice Recipe

Variety…It’s What’s For Dinner

Variety Misunderstood

That’s not variety, that’s just a lot of different ways to cook potatoes.  Now, my Dad is a man who understands variety at the dinner table.  Cornish game hen, swordfish, lamb, venison…you name it and he has probably cooked it or eaten it.  He was served duck eyes at a formal dinner in China…they’re chewy.  Plus, he keeps a garden so, fresh herbs and vegetables abound.  Asparagus, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, snow peas, beans, tomatoes, onions, and a multitude of peppers are just a few of the things that he pulls out of the garden.  By the way, if my Dad offers you one of his special peppers be afraid…be very afraid.

The Twin traps of Convenience And Habit

It’s not easy to say this, but it’s true.  Compared to the variety of foods that my father fed his family, I am very nearly a complete failure.  I blame myself for falling into the twin traps of convenience and habit.  The grocery store is convenient and with year round produce, it is easy to form habits that lock you into shopping for and eating the same foods continuously.

As if that realization wasn’t bad enough, I recently read Food for thought: Cooking in human evolution a fascinating essay by Greg Downey on the Neuroanthropology blog.  Downey explains: One of the many interesting wrinkles in the evolutionary story of our species is that hominins went from being largely, perhaps almost entirely, herbivorous, to being staggeringly versatile eaters. Our hunting and foraging ancestors (and our contemporaries) found their calories all over the place, from sources that far exceed the variety that we can find today in a well-stocked grocery store. As I remind my undergraduate students, with their often chicken-beef-pork urban diet of constant repetition, our ancestors were getting their animal protein from such a variety of species that we can scarcely imagine the selection.

After reading that, I wasn’t entirely shocked, when I came across this passage in Dan John’s book Never Let Go:  Years ago at a workshop we were asked to keep a food journal for a few days and list foods we ate.  Not the volume, calories, protein, or anything like that, we were merely to make a column of the foods we ate during that time.  The point was simple: Most people eat about ten to twenty foods a week.  Don’t believe me? Keep the journal.

Oddball Item of the Week

I am going to keep the journal.  And, I am going to go one better.  I promise that each week, I will root around in the grocery store for one oddball item and try it.  This week’s oddball item of the week is parsnips.

For those wishing to take a break from their grass fed beef and experiment with getting their animal protein from…a variety of species I recommend the fantastic River Road Recipes Cookbook put out by the Junior League of Baton Rouge.  These ladies from Louisiana will have you cooking and eating deer, rabbit, squirrel, opossum, ‘coon, frog, ‘gator, turtle, etc. in no time.

Variety – It’s What’s For Dinner!

Going With Option 3 – DIY LÄRABARS

If you look hard enough, you can find pretty much anything in Seoul.  Last year, on my birthday I found a bottle of Portuguese green wine.  Here’s the rub, I paid $40 for what would be a $5 bottle of wine in Portugal.  Anything remotely considered a Western specialty or gourmet food gets a hefty mark-up.  On the other hand, Korean style gourmet foods are incredibly cheap – I cook with oyster mushrooms all the time…be jealous…be very jealous.

Photo by: Shoshanah

The Buzz

During the last year or so, I started reading on the interwebs about the awesome goodness of Larabars.  I’d never heard of a Larabar.  But, there was this collective Larabar buzz that couldn’t be ignored.  People were tweeting about them.  Raw food advocates were touting them.  Foodies were loving them…but, I wasn’t seeing them in Korea.

The Options

I bet if I went to the very posh food court at the Shinsegae Department Store, they would either have Larabars or could special order them for me.  I am also confident that the mark-up would be tremendous.  A sentimental bottle of wine on your birthday is one thing, but over-paying for a gourmet energy bar is something else entirely.  Which meant I was left with three options (1) I could look for another supplier – Amazon does in fact sell Larabars.  (2) I could do nothing and just skip the whole Larabar experience, or (3) I could create my own solution with a DIY Larabar.

Health Habits to the Rescue

Douglas Robb is a personal trainer in Toronto, a force on twitter (@HealthHabits), and the author of the Health Habits Blog.  After reading his post Homemade LaraBar Recipes, option 3 was the obvious choice.  Doug saves you a lot of leg work, as he has tracked down and linked to the best Larabar recipes on the web.

My Mad Methods

I had some early success with the Eat. Run. Do Yoga. Chocolate Coconut Pie recipe.  I also messed around with the Very Cherry Bars from WellSphere.  But, it wasn’t until Roger (who writes for Son of Grok and is another must follow on twitter @RogerDeRok), suggested that I try replicating the Cinnamon Roll Larabar that I hit a real home run.

What follows is the recipe that I worked out.  Be forewarned, I am not responsible for any resulting Cinnamon Roll Larabar mania that flows from your first batch.  I’ve got my own problems with family members hoarding the available supply and threats of bodily harm if an order for a double batch is not completed this weekend.  It’s like I’m cooking meth for Gus Fring.

The Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 of a cup of loose dates (I use whole dates, which take up a lot of space)

1/4 of a cup of walnuts

1/4 of a cup of almonds

1/4 of a cup of cashews

1/4 of a cup of raisins

1 Tablespoon of cinnamon.

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in your food processor or blender.

Step 2: Mix / Blend / Chop, until a relatively thick ball starts to form.  Don’t go too fast.  I gradually increase the speed from low to medium. If it looks too dry to form into bars, you may need to add more dates.

Step 3: Expect greasy hands.  Chopped and mixed dates and nuts are incredibly oily.  You’ve been warned.  Scoop the mixture out of your food processor or blender and into a bowl.  Press the mixture to make it more compact.

Step 4: Break off portions from the ball and shape them into bars.

Step 5: Wrap the bars in plastic and refrigerate.

Pro tip: Prep your plastic wrap strips before your hands get greasy from forming the bars.  I hang mine from the edge of the counter, so they are ready to go when I need them.

Pro eating tip: Squeeze the bar out one end of the plastic wrap, then you can hold onto the plastic wrap as you take a bite and keep your hands perfectly clean.

Eat and Enjoy

In this case, option 3 really was the best choice, as a custom solution led to a collaborative effort, a fun kitchen experiment, and saved money.

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For related STRETCH EXERCISE EAT posts SEE:

Protein Cookies that Don’t Suck

Worse than 3 days Without Food – A day Without Tea

Tropical Snowboard Mix

Protein Cookies That Don’t Suck

Photo by: nettsu

The First Batch

Recently, I baked a batch of protein cookies and they were terrible.  Protein cookies, like protein bars are supposed to have lots of the good stuff, like protein and none of the bad stuff.   My protein cookies were dry and bland.  I ended up slathering them with honey, just to choke them down.

Back to the Drawing Board

Never one to be put off by humiliating failure (I once put paprika in a batch cookies…don’t ask).  I started brainstorming ideas for modifying this mess.  My instinct was to add apple sauce.  I figured this would help make the cookies moist and add some sweetness to the mix.  I mentioned my idea to Jules a co-worker and she helpfully suggested using pumpkin instead.

I love pumpkin cookies.  In the fall and at Christmas, I make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and the kids and I feast on them, so I added chocolate chips to my shopping list.  But, not just regular chocolate chips…DARK chocolate chips…you know for their healthful benefits.

Time to Experiment

As the foundation for this project, I started with Mike Mahler’s Vanilla Pecan Cookie Recipe, which you can check out here and ended up with this:

4 scoops of protein powder (vanilla flavor if you’ve got it)
3 tablespoons of peanut butter
3 tablespoons of milled flax seeds
1/4 cup of pecans
1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips
3/4 to 1 can (15 oz)of pumpkin
1 tablespoon of ginger powder
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of stevia
1 and 1/2 cups of water

Preheat oven to 425. Mix everything in a bowl with a spoon, clean hands, or whatever works for you.  Note, I gradually add the pumpkin and the water until I achieve a cookie dough consistency.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator for +/- one hour.  This stiffens up the dough and makes it easier to shape the cookies.  Shape dough into cookies. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes.

Wow – They Don’t Suck

Fresh out of the oven, I tried one and it didn’t suck.  I let the kids try them and they agreed this batch of protein cookies didn’t suck.  In fact, we got positive reactions all the way up to the they aren’t bad mark.  The pumpkin did its job.  The cookies were moist and the dark chocolate chips were a huge bonus.

Hot Rodding the Recipe

In light of these positive results, I will continue to work on dialing this recipe in.  Next up, cutting the ginger levels by half and substituting brewed coffee for the water.

Cookies and Milk

My new favorite post workout snack!

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For related STRETCH EXERCISE EAT posts SEE:

Confessions of a Food Faddist

Weird and Wonderful Avocados

Blanch Those Veggies

Confessions of a Food Faddist

My eating preferences are constantly evolving.  My diet is influenced by things I read, people I talk to, and experiments that I want to try.  This week I had a great conversation with Christopher of Paleo-ish.  At one point, he asked how do you eat? This post is a result of that conversation and a snapshot in time of how I am eating right now, this week…

Photo by: Thomas Hawk

A Model Daily Menu

0600 – Glass of water.

0630-Smoothie: melon, bananas, and cream cheese (half a honeydew, 6 bananas, and 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese).

1000-1030: 2 hard boiled eggs and some nuts (cashews or macadamia)

1400-1430: Cheese (Swiss) and fruit (apple or plum)

1730: Yogurt or cottage cheese

2000-2030 Dinner is variable.  Lots of zucchini, greens, onions, garlic, carrots, red bell pepper, mushrooms, eggs, broccoli, sweet potatoes.

Before bed: Small glass of water.

What’s Going on Here?

The eating preferences that are in play include vegetarian (no meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, etc.), limited grains (no wheat;  rice and oats occasionally), and fermented foods (yogurt, kimchi, cheeses).

The most recent twist came when Colton tweeted about the Gracie diet.  I’d never heard of Carlos Gracie’s diet, but I took a look.  Many of the ideas were interesting or raised my awareness of potential issues.  One, eating and digesting food takes a lot of energy.  Two, spreading meals out by at least four hours, allows the stomach to fully empty.  Three, replenishing water upon rising and topping up before heading off for  6-8 hours of sleep intuitively makes sense.

The key concept with this diet is the careful matching of foods to maintain a neutral pH.  To accomplish this, the following chart is offered as a guide to the Gracie diet.

From Gracie Magazine: The Pioneer’s Menu

For me, the problem with the Gracie diet is that there is no explanation for why pH must be so carefully maintained.  Does it tax the body to regulate pH?  How does the chart work…Why are foods divided and combined in these certain ways?  Maybe some of you have answers that you can share in the comments.  I have no idea what is physiologically accomplished by eating this way, if anything.  Honestly, I have my doubts about the whole premise.

I have been following the guidelines anyway for the last 3-4 weeks.  I have not had any problems with digestion, but I seldom do.  Meanwhile, I feel well-nourished.  The first part of the schedule meshes nicely with my work day.  Towards the end of the day, things get a little compressed, as I want a snack before Tae Kwon Do and to have dinner after.  Also, in the interests of full disclosure, I do have occasional treats that violate the rules.  Last week, I had a Goo Goo cone (Korean ice cream) and a Black Velvet (Guinness with Champagne).  I also sneak some dark chocolate in as well.

If you are interested in experimenting with the Gracie diet, here is a page with some recipes.  I made the stuffed zucchini and it got a thumbs up all around the table.  I also made a variation of that recipe, by using zucchini as a pasta substitute and the stuffing as a sauce.  By the way, you can eat a lot of melon and bananas…lots more than I ever imagined!

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For related STRETCH EXERCISE EAT posts SEE:

The Underground Guide to Eating Right

Consult Your Biological Clock to Optimize the Effectiveness of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Blanch Those Veggies

EAT: Calories are Calories, But Achieving Acceptable Outcomes Is What Really Matters

Photo by: jujuly25

Diet is an endless source of controversy.  That’s what happens when culture, science, and personal preference collide.  One of the schisms in the Church of Eating Right involves whether to focus primarily on calories consumed (this group musters behind  the catch phrase: calories are calories) or whether to focus primarily on the impact foods have on personal performance.  Of course, both points are valid, so let’s develop this discussion a little bit more.

Nobody eats as much as CastleGrok.  He is also the consummate experimenter and chronicler of the effects of food choices on his athletic performance.  Based on the results of his experiments with different foods, he tweaks his diet for better performance as an endurance athlete.

On the other hand, the AthleteCreator tweets: Whoa! You mean all I have to do is stay within my weekly caloric guidelines for my goal and I can eat donuts?  Yup, as long as you eat sufficient protein and account for those calories in your overall total as well.  Brilliant!  He goes on to ask the question:  What’s the difference between 500 excess calories from a donut and 500 calories from chicken and veggies?

The AthleteCreator is correct.  There is no difference between calories.  Calories are just a unit of measurement.  500 calories = 500 calories.

But, CastleGrok is also right to be concerned with how particular foods impact individual performance.  Even from a mechanistic point of view, the type of fuel that you put in the tank will impact your engine’s performance.  Of course, the Athlete Creator is being provocative, he eats nutrient dense foods most of the time.  Just as he would not put 31,000 calories of diesel fuel into his Honda Civic, he is not advocating a junk food diet.  He knows that quality food is necessary for quality performance.  Similarly, with his high levels of calorie burning, CastleGrok could substitute a donut for some of his bananas or raw cauliflower and not expect to gain weight.

For both CastleGrok and the AthleteCreator, the goal is to achieve an acceptable outcome.  How you define an acceptable outcome depends on your individual interests.  If your primary interest is maximizing performance as an endurance athlete, then substituting low nutrient donuts for high nutrient kale likely won’t help.  If your primary interest is cutting weight (or maintaining a certain weight), but you find that a life without the occasional donut is not worth living, then you will have to balance these competing interests to reach an acceptable outcome.  As the AthleteCreator points out, you can enjoy your donut, as long as you don’t exceed your established weekly caloric guidelines (for more on this point, you should read the article 4 Ways To Ruin Your Caloric Deficit at JCD Fitness).

In either case, once you have defined an acceptable outcome, you can experiment with different methods that serve your interests and tweak these methods through self-experimentation.  Try different approaches to see whether they take you closer or further from where you want to be. Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.  -Bruce Lee

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For related STRETCH EXERCISE EAT posts SEE:

EAT: The Underground Guide to Eating Right

EAT: Consult Your Biological Clock to Optimize the Effectiveness of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

EAT: Do Nutrition Labels Increase Food Cravings

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