Sexy Vegan Fudge Brownies

OMG How can something so healthy be so……delectable?? I love chocolate and when I crave it I really crave it!  I don’t mess around with drugstore candy-  I go for the extra dark, rich, exotic chocolate bars that you find in bookstores or coffee shops. I love the pretty packaging, the interesting names, the intoxicating smell, the thin shape, and the melt~in~your~mouth goodness of just one square.  Nothing else will satisfy me when I need my dark chocolate. Until now….When I tried these black bean brownies I wanted to shout out “YES! It worked! I’m satisfied!”  I get very excited about healthy food.

Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe courtesy of whole foods:

black bean brownies

2 cups cooked black beans, 10 medjool dates, 2 tablespoons raw almond butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon chia seeds, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. I was forced to splurge on a new one after  getting dates and beans stuck in my old one that gave up on me midway.

I bought this perfect size processor this weekend and the world’s best boyfriend bought me a matching waffle iron! Can’t wait to try that next Sunday!

food processor

I had to add a tiny bit of water with the dates and beans because they were really thick. The cocoa powder smoothed it all out.

cocoa powder

Spread mixture evenly in a lightly greased 8×8 baking pan and bake 1 1/2 hours at 200 degrees. I ALMOST messed up and kept my oven at 350. These need to cook low and slow.

brownie batter

Let cool slightly before icing with the following:

I melted 1 tablespoon coconut oil and 1/2 vegan chocolate chips (or whatever version you like) to spread over warm brownies

making chocolate frosting

The icing sort of melts into the brownie and gives it a sweet subtle coconut flavor!

black bean brownies

I am in love with these brownies!  Did you know chocolate releases the same hormones that we feel when we’re falling in love? Can that explain why we CRAVE it so much and have an almost worship-like adoration for the dark stuff?  I can’t wait to try these again and add nuts and also experiment more with my new food processor.

black bean brownies with icing

Go Green Burrito

What more can I say about the benefits of eating greens?? The most nutrient dense veggies are dark leafy greens like Kale, Spinach, Collards, Chard, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, etc  and provide our bodies with more calcium than MILK! Why not get more bang for your buck in the produce aisle and go straight for these instead of the white potatoes? Not that I have anything against white potatoes except that they are high on the glycemic index and don’t contain nearly as many micro-nutrients as greens. OK I do have something against them….

I throw greens into as many different meals as possible: Soups, salads, juice, smoothies, eggs, sandwiches, and tacos or burritos.

Start “sneaking” them into everything you cook! Spinach is the most mild in flavor and will not be noticed in most dishes even by picky eaters. Frozen kale is a great addition to smoothies too!

Last night I made this vegetarian burrito and it totally filled me up!  I started with cooked black beans , diced up a small baked sweet potato and combined them in a bowl.

slow cooked black beans

baked sweet potato

I added green salsa made with tomatillos for a tart spicy flavor. I love this brand that is found in most grocery stores. It’s not too salty and tastes pretty fresh for a jar.

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I layered the bean/sweet potato mixture onto a whole wheat flour tortilla. The TJ’s handmade ones are pretty good!

black bean sweet potato burrito

Then I topped with fresh baby spinach leaves and sliced avocado for some healthy fats.

spinach, avocado burrito

Before rolling up I added plain greek yogurt and some fresh cilantro.

fresh cilantro on burritoHealthy eating does not have to be fancy or complicated. With a few good quality ingredients and plenty of fresh produce on hand you can let your intuition guide you in the kitchen. Read about my accidental Greek Burrito here

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

How many times have you set a goal and within a short period of time forgotten about it? Or worse yet, get frustrated over lack of success and give up? New Year’s resolutions, diets, and contests with ourselves are sometimes the least the effective way to meet a particular goal. We set goals that may seem do-able at the beginning when we are motivated in some way, but then real life sets in and the challenge to meet those lofty goals becomes too much.

I have learned a great way to set goals for myself. It makes them manageable and it holds me accountable for each small step so that I’m not flailing about with no direction. S.M.A.R.T is the acronym for this goal setting technique and it works for anything you might want to achieve.

Smart-Goals

Here’s how to make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T

S- Is it Specific? Don’t just say “I will eat healthier from now on” instead try “I will eat one less serving of meat a week” that way you have a specific project in mind.

M- Is it Measurable? We won’t know if we’ve met our goal unless we have a way to measure it. “I will eat 1 less serving of meat this week” is measurable. We know at the end of 1 week if we’ve accomplished it or not.  Same goes for weight loss, weight gain, work-out progress, or saving $$.

A- Is it Attainable? Can you do this particular thing in the amount of time you’ve given yourself? Do you really WANT it? This is an important question to ask yourself. Make sure the goals you set are things that can actually be attained by you and more importantly, that you desire them. I mean, do I REALLY want to live on an island, eat fresh pineapple, and do yoga all day on the beach? Yes!

R- Is it Realistic or Relevant? Be really honest with yourself when you look at this aspect. Will you ever be a size 6? Do you want to be? Maybe your body isn’t built to be “thin” so don’t make that your goal, instead make optimal health your goal. Keep things real and be fair to yourself by being honest with your capabilities.

T- Is there a Timeline? Did you set a realistic amount of time to reach your goal? Do you have short term and long term goals? Goals can change daily, weekly, and monthly. Keep track of your progress by recording your progress. Remember, this is a process.

Lastly, Keep a Goal journal and write them down often. The act of writing makes things more “real” and perhaps will spark even more motivation or ideas for other goals. It is also nice to look back at goals you’ve accomplished and allow yourself to feel proud.

Farmer’s Market Finds

Last week was the grand opening of my neighborhood 12South farmer’s market– Yay! This is the one I walked to so much last summer with my dog and bought fresh, local veggies like bok choy, squash, okra, etc to cook immediately. It’s where I was able to experiment so much in the kitchen with good quality produce. It’s a producer’s only market which means the food  is straight from the field and the farmer’s are there selling it- not vendors who ship it in. I am volunteering there this year and will be leading monthly activities around yoga and nutrition- SO excited!

LaChicaNegra LOVES walking with me

LaChicaNegra LOVES walking with me to the market

I am grabbing all of the fresh local strawberries I can because the season is so short. This is my 2nd pint in a week and I wish I had more. They taste NOTHING like the over-sized, rubbery, grocery store berries. They are smaller, sweeter, and juicier! I use them on oatmeal, salads, smoothies, and with yogurt.

local tennessee strawberries

I got these freshly picked organic beets with dirt still on them. I love the greens cooked with coconut oil. They are slightly more bitter than kale but soft like spinach. The beets will be used for, you guessed it- Juicing!!!

fresh organic beets and greens

Even though I haven’t been eating much meat lately, yesterday I was dying for chicken noodle soup. It was chilly and my throat felt scratchy from allergies and all I could think of was my stay-well chicken soup. My bf took me to the downtown farmer’s market to “Wild and Local” a fresh butcher who specialized in local, organic, natural meats of all sorts. I bought a 2.5lb hen and made the soup for supper.

homemade chicken broth

After boiling the whole bird, I de-boned and used the broth full of nutritious root veggies to cook the egg noodles. I threw in some kale leaves toward the end and was able to use my fresh garden herbs: Parsley, cilantro, and rosemary.

There will be many, many more farmer’s markets trips in the next coming months- stay tuned for updates on what’s growing!

Yoga vs The Gym

There almost seems to be 2 different types of people: Yoga people and Gym people.
The “gym people” have their world: Strength, sweat, mirrors, kicking ass, and grunting.  They think yoga is all about chanting and laying on the floor. “Yoga people” have one as well: incense, bliss, inner wisdom, vegetarianism, and bending their limbs into pretzels.  I am stereotyping of course but a lot of people really think that!

carole-ann mobley at studio dakini

As usual, I fit into all of the above:  I love both. I used to think I had to choose one or the other to really be focused.  I would flip flop between the two and take time off yoga when I was really into weight lifting and then I’d miss it so I’d go back to the studio and soon enough I would miss that intense burn I got from lifting. I had my “workout” friends who talked about protein shakes, fitness models, deep squats, and lactic acid. And I had my yoga friends who talked about chakras, alignment, breath, and shivasana.

It slowly dawned on me how much ALIKE yoga practice and lifting really are. How the focus, the commitment, the constant study and learning, the respect, the history, the unwavering passion and discipline that play an important role in both.

Why would anyone shun one for the other? Fear of change? Fear of stepping outside of their comfort zone and letting their minds and bodies experience something different? Everyone knows that cross-training produces the best results and mixing up our physical activity is important. Weight bearing exercise, particularly for women, is extremely important in helping to prevent osteoporosis and other bone fractures.  I’m not sure I can get that from yoga alone.

CA Mobley at Studio dakini

If “gym people” are reluctant to try yoga because they think it’s not going to be a good “workout” then they obviously have never tried Ashtanga, or Bikram which completely kicks my ass! I challenge anyone to try either of those styles of yoga and not be humbled by the mere physical strength and stamina they take. If  “yoga people” don’t want to go to a gym, think about this: the stronger your muscles in your chest, shoulders, legs, and back get from weights, the deeper and more fully you can go into the postures while protecting your joints. I was told once by a trainer I was too flexible and that was a dangerous way to be with no protection around my ligaments or joints. At the time I had stopped going to the gym and was doing only yoga.

I have finally found an equal and healthy relationship between weight lifting, cardio, and flexibility through yoga.  I am more balanced and my body feels better than it ever has. Can yoga build muscle? Yes, but not like weight bearing exercise. And stretching after a work-out is great but how many people really take time to do that properly?

Find what works for you and then try something new once in awhile. Our bodies change all the time and what once worked may need to be altered or changed for new results. Change is good!

Mashed Curried Cauliflower

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I made this super easy supper the other night: steam cauliflower and drain. Add 1/3 cup nutritional yeast, garlic, almond milk (about 1/3 cup), pinch of curry, turmeric, paprika. Stir well and slightly mash cauliflower to a soft texture. I served with kale and collard greens and a baked sweet potato. It was just enough for a warm spring evening.  Tonight was a different story- I was craving protein.

I honestly don’t think I’ve been getting enough since I haven’t had meat for quite awhile. I’ve been doing a lot of cardio too and I think that’s making my body crave more. It’s totally OK to listen to cravings and figure out what they mean. That’s the beauty of our bodies and how incredibly smart they are! They KNOW what we need and when we need it. And it’s not always ice cream and pizza, we can actually crave nutrients from healthy food.  Cravings can be a good thing!

After a hellish 30 minutes on Jacob’s Ladder at BF’s gym, I was persuaded to have a grilled chicken breast. I made it into a spinach salad with sprouts, avocado and tomato.  I’m happy to say it was super satisfying! Once again, my cravings were right.

grilled chicken spinach salad

I am also experimenting with posting from my Ipad and not sure I like it- that’s why this post looks different.  I have a love/hate/respect relationship with technology and sometimes it wins, sometimes I do. Please check out my facebook page for some new yoga videos I’m posting that show off my cute dogs too!

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