I’ve Moved

Good Morning Friends, Family & Foodies!

I am pleased to announce the launch of my new food blog, Beans Greens & Grains. I will no longer be publishing on Just Indulgence, so please visit my new blog for future food posts and to join the mailing list.

Thank you so much for reading my recipe posts and I hope you enjoy what I’ll be cooking!

Cheers,

Andrea

Getting Healthier with a Plant-Based Diet

Most people we know would have said my fiancé and I couldn’t possibly get any healthier, and I honestly thought the same (except to maybe cut out a few pounds of my weekly chocolate consumption). That was until I started watching documentaries on the food industry…

Vegucated

Vegucated follows three average meat-eating Americans as they take on a vegan diet for six weeks. The documentary attempts to debunk the myth that vegans submit themselves to a lonely diet more suitable for bunny rabbits than humans, and tries to expose the cruelty to which millions of animals are subject every day in the current meat, seafood, eggs and dairy industries.

I have always believed humans are omnivorous and killing animals is not morally wrong yet simply a fact of life, but the filthy and miserable conditions of today’s industry standards are immoral, not to mention utterly nauseating. I prefer not to get into the contemptible details, but reasons for not wanting to ingest meat or their products after watching Vegucated are the same reasons one would not want to ingest a Parisian sewer rat – it’s just plain disgusting.

Indeed, there do exist farms that provide their animals with humane living conditions, but there does not exist an agency or means of regulating what is considered to be humane. One basically has to do his/her own research about the particular farm from which the animal products are sourced – which I did and surprisingly found a transparent local farm that satisfied my personal standards for production methods.

And then I watched another documentary…

Forks Over Knives

Forks Over Knives explores the life works of physician Caldwell Esselstyn and professor T. Colin Campbell, who assert that animal-based diets are the cause of most degenerative diseases and that a plant-based diet can control or even reverse them. Though the research is rather convincing, one cannot claim with 100% certainty that animal products cause cancer and heart disease, but I would like to suggest that the average vegan is healthier than the average meat-eater, and therefore I choose to err on the side of caution.

Having never seen health as an obstacle to being a foodie, I am profoundly excited about my forthcoming culinary transformation as I explore less obvious sources of protein, learn to cook/bake without eggs and milk, perhaps inspire a few others to give plant-based meals a chance, and ultimately just get even healthier!

Chocolate Coconut Black Bean Brownies

This is a treat I’ve been wanting to bake for the longest time. With last-minute dinner plan changes last week, I found myself with an extra can of low sodium black beans, so I figured I’d give it a go! I am so happy with the results; they are coconutty, chocolatey, super moist and don’t taste the slightest bit like beans! It really is astonishing how perfect they are as a brownie, not at all a pretty-good-healthy-substitute. I really hope you try to make these for yourself, or for any gluten-free/dairy-free guests you may have!

I wanted to keep these brownies as healthy and low calorie (only 68 cals per brownie) as possible, so they really aren’t very sweet, but if you’re craving more sugar, then mix some chocolate chips into the batter or sprinkle a handful over the top.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 – 540mL (19 fl oz) can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 tsp stevia
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

DIRECTIONS

  • Blend all ingredients well in a food processor or high-powered blender (LOVE my Vitamix!).
  • Pour batter into an 8″x8″ brownie pan sprayed with oil.
  • Bake at 35o degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes 16 brownies.

Per brownie: 68 calories – 11 g carbs – 2 g fibre – 2 g fat – 3 g protein

Mega Moist Banana Blueberry Muffins

As you can see in my lack of recent posts, I haven’t cooked much as of late. Family Thanksgiving gatherings in Vancouver, training for / running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, and business day trips out of town have somehow all gotten in the way of me and my kitchen. So when I finally had a weekend at home to sort myself out, all I was craving was the simplicity and comfort of never-fail bananas, blueberries and maybe some carbs (still trying to kick my carb addiction after running that darn half!). This recipe uses whole wheat flour, but you could easily substitute oat (for gluten-free), spelt, (dare I suggest) white or any other flour you like.

My mother used to (all the way up until I moved out of home last year) make us fresh muffins for breakfast every second day and would always put chocolate chips in mine (you’re the BEST, Mom!). But rather than crack open the Costco-size bag of Chipits in my freezer (cause once they’re open they, quite pathetically of me, become my go-t0 afterwork snack) I opted for the bag of frozen blueberries, which may have been even better than the chocolate. Okay no, who am I kidding, chocolate always wins, but the blueberries are pretty darn good.

At the very least the blueberries do cut out enough sugar and fat that these muffins only have 121 calories each, meaning you can have not one, but TWO, for breakfast and still have room left for yogurt or fruit. Or enjoy the best of both worlds and do half and half chocolate-blueberry!

INGREDIENTS

Dry

Wet

and 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
  • In a medium bowl, or large liquid measuring cup (as above), mix all wet ingredients.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until dry are moistened.

  • Fold in blueberries.
  • Pour batter into muffin tin (for 12) sprayed with oil.

  • Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick pushed into the centre comes out clean.

Just look at how golden these guys come out of the oven!

  • Let cool for 10 minutes in pan before removing to cooling rack…or skip the cooling and just dive right into one!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes 12 muffins.

Per muffin: 121 calories – 26 g carbs – 3 g fibre – 1 g fat – 4 g protein

Creamy Avocado Dip

Man is this post overdue! The past month went by in a flash, but not without some great memories: bike riding around one of the world’s greenest cities (Copenhagen), lunch at the world’s best restaurant (Noma), catching up with the best of friends (Stockholm), exploring one of the greatest capitals (Washington), and running a 10K PB through the Rockies (Banff).

Needless to say, I haven’t had much time in the kitchen, so Just Indulgence has been rather neglected. But I’m back home and back at it with a phenomenal recipe: creamy avocado dip!

I was not expecting this dip of a few veggies, avocados and greek yogurt to come out so decadent, but after tasting the spatula I was honestly torn between jumping for joy and going in for a re-dip. So huge thanks to Dave’s mom, Janis, for the recipe book that inspired such a beautiful creation.

I cut recipe’s salt in half and replaced the sour cream with non-fat greek yogurt, which couldn’t be a better substitute  - you cannot tell the difference! Plus it dilutes the heavy avocado calories and adds a punch of protein. Serve over rice cakes, on a sandwich, with veggies and pita chips or basically anywhere you’d throw traditional guacamole and you’ll honestly never go back!

A little tip to keep the avocado from going grey: save the pits and plop them into the finished dip. I have no idea how it works, but it’ll sure save the ascetics of your dip!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup 0% fat plain greek yogurt
  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled

DIRECTIONS

  • Toss shallot, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice and salt into a food processor and blend well.
  • Add greek yogurt and blend until smooth.
  • Add avocados and blend until smooth.
  • Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving and then enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION 

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Per tbsp: 19 calories, 1 g carbs, 2 g fat, 1g protein, 1 g fibre

Mediterranean Omelette

This is by far my new favorite way to eat eggs. I had had this for breakfast while on vacation last week and couldn’t wait to get home to make it in my own kitchen. Since Dave and I always eat the same thing for breakfast, I had to make them for dinner, which was a great excuse to whip up some kale tabbouleh on the side.

I used 4 whole eggs and about 4 egg whites, but you can swing the ratios to suit your calorie fat cholesterol protein profile.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 roma tomato, cut into eighths
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 egg whites (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp crumbled light feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat olive oil in medium pan over medium heat.
  • Toss in tomato, red pepper, onion and garlic and stir until onion softens, about 3 minutes.
  • Crack eggs into pan and pour egg whites around edges and to fill in gaps.
  • Turn heat to low-medium, cover and let cook until eggs cook through to medium (or as long as desired), about 5 minutes. Toss in feta, mint and pepper 2 minutes before eggs are done.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 265 calories, 8 g carbs, 15 g fat, 24 g protein, 1 g fibre

Watermelon Mint Feta Salad

Who knew getting engaged would be so consuming! I can’t believe it’s been 2 weeks since it happened (meaning 2 weeks since my last post!) – it’s still setting in! Dave surprised the heck out of me with the proposal, but I couldn’t be happier or more excited to plan a wedding with the man of my dreams!

Here’s a refreshing salad my mother mentioned she’d made the other night. Perfect for a hot summer day when you’re feeling thirsty and sluggish – four ingredients and that’s it! Even more, it’s so delicious you could eat it as a healthy dessert.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 4.5 oz (130 g) light feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix together in a large bowl, chill until serving and enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes 6 servings of about 2.5 cups each.

Per serving: 168 calories, 29 g carbs, 4 g fat, 7 g protein, 2 g fibre

 

Jicama & Mango Salad

Dave and I had dinner at my cousin Karen and her husband Shaun’s place a few weeks ago in Vancouver. They prepared an unbelievable dinner for us including this light crunchy tangy sweet salad. Who knew 4 ingredients could make such a delightful dish! Make it as a side dish or throw in some chicken, shrimp or fish and make it a meal.

Dave and I were even thinking it’d even make a great popcorn substitute if we cut the jicama and mango a little larger, and if we ever get around to watching a movie…

I had never cooked with jicama (a.k.a. yambean) before and I’m really sorry I’ve been missing out! This stuff is awesome! I’d call the texture a cross between a raw potato and an apple – though more like an apple in terms of water content. It’s ever so slightly sweet and PACKED with fibre. Here’s how it stacks up to 120g each of apples and potatoes:

Jicama   Apple       Potato

Calories                  46             62             83

Carbs                   10.6g       17.2g       18.9g

Sugars                   2.2g        13.3g         1.2g

Fibre                      5.9g          3.9g         2.0g

Protein                  0.9g             0g          2.2g

Most people have trouble getting enough fibre into their diets, but this salad contains nearly all of your recommended daily intake (25 g in a 2,000 calorie diet) in one serving. For sure a new staple in my house!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 mangos, julienned
  • 2 large jicama, julienned
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix in a large salad bowl, serve and enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 203 calories, 48 g carbs, 1 g fat, 3 g protein, 21 g fibre

Chocolate Coconut Clusters

Here’s another treat I made for the baby shower last weekend. Love that these are no-bake and totally remind me of chewy chocolate puffed-wheat squares, but coconutty and with a little more fibre. With only 69 calories per cluster, you can have a couple without feeling the least bit guilty.

I used sweetened coconut flakes, but I think you could get away with the unsweetened variety – these clusters were sweet enough!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups coconut palm sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup 2% evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (I like butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix sugar, cocoa powder, milk, butter and vanilla in a medium pot.
  • Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly.Bring to a boil for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in oats and coconut.
  • Use a 1 1/2 tbsp to spoon clusters onto a baking sheet lined in parchment. Leave as messy clusters or shape to your desire.
  • Let cool in the fridge for 30 minutes and enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes about 50 clusters.

Per cluster: 69 calories, 12 g carbs, 2 g fat, 1 g protein, 1 g fibre

Chocolate Covered Fruit Pops

On Saturday we celebrated the soon-to-be motherhood of one of my best friends. In preparation for the 53 confirmed guests, we got started cooking on Friday night and basically didn’t stop until 3 PM the next day (my feet were killing me from the kitchen tile)! With six pairs of hands we managed to pull of decorations, goodie bags, and 17 menu items! So expect a few finger-food posts this week.

These fruit pops were a total party hit! I saw them go by on Pinterest (where would we be without it) and thought they’d be a fun little treat for the guests. Plus the fruit and dark chocolate has got to make them kind of healthy… right? I’m actually thinking of making a chocolate-free version as an everyday frozen treat.

They’re really easy to make, but do require about an hour with all the fruit chopping, chocolate melting and pop freezing.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bananas, each cut into 12 pieces
  • 12 medium strawberries, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 pineapple, cut into 24 bite-size pieces
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, though any oil will work
  • 24 toothpicks
  • 2 tbsp each flaked coconut and chopped almonds for topping

DIRECTIONS

  • Skewer a piece of strawberry (on top), banana and pineapple (on bottom) onto each toothpick.
  • Arrange all pops on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for at least 30 minutes. I had left them over night to break up prep time for these.
  • Melt chocolate with coconut oil using a double boiler. You can also do this in the microwave, but use short 20 second burst to avoid burning the chocolate.
  • Remove pops from freezer and dip half of each piece in chocolate, press in topping (coconut or almond separately, or both together!) and return to baking sheet, standing them up on their side.
  • Return tray to freezer. Remove 5 minutes before serving to let soften and then enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes 24 pops.

Per pop (not including toppings): 50 calories, 8 g carbs, 2 g fat, <1 g protein, 1 g fibre