Calming Lavender Tea Lemon Cookies

Call me old school, but I adore the flavors of Lavender Tea and Lemon. There is something very calming and refreshing about the combination that just takes me away from the stress of the day. Lavender is believed to have multiple health benefits including its natural stress relieving ability, antiseptic properties, anti-inflammatory properties, reducing hair loss, reducing anxiety and depression, aiding digestive problems, and even effects for treating premenstrual symptoms.

This recipe was created with a breezy afternoon in mind. Imagine sitting on a porch swing, sipping some tea, eating some lovely Calming Lavender Tea Lemon Cookies. (eyes closed, picturing swinging in a hammock in the breezebirds chirping in the distance… smells of jasmine permeate the air)

Alright… now that you have the setting… let’s gather some ingredients.

Calming Lavender Tea Lemon Cookies

  • 2 tsp Lavender (Food Grade, dried)
  • 1 Lemon, zested
  • 1 cup Vegan Butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cup Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Notes:

  • You can experiment with shapes and do whichever is easier for you.
  • If you want to, you can also add jam and make these cookies styled like a linzer cookie

Are you ready to get our de-stress on? Let’s get started!

1)Preheat the oven to 375F. Gather together the Vegan Butter and Powdered Sugar.

2) Place them into a mixer and blend until light and fluffy. This will take several minutes.

3) Gather together the Lemon Zest, Lavender, and Salt and place into the mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined.

4) Gather up the Gluten-Free Flour. Place into mixing bowl and mix only until combined. Make sure that you scrape the bowl sides down in order to get all the ingredients well incorporated.

5) SLICE & BAKE OPTION: Remove dough from bowl and form into a log. (This can be any shape you would like) Cut into 1/4″-1/2″ thick slices and place onto a cookie sheet.

6) ROLL & CUT OPTION: Remove dough from bowl and roll out into 1/4″ thick. Cut with a cookie cutter into desired shape and place onto cookie sheet.

7) FILLED OPTION: Cut a second cookie the same shape per cookie. Cut an inset out of middle that will make an opening in the cookie for the filling to go into. Place the top cookie carefully on top of the base cookie on the preset cookie sheet.

8) If desired, you can place preserves or filling on top of the log cookies or in the filling portion of the cookies. Make sure to leave a rim around the edge of the cookie so that way it does not spill over the edge of the cookie.

9) Bake in a preheated 375F for 13-15 minutes or until the edges are light and golden brown. Allow to cool completely!

10) Pour yourself a nice cup of tea, sit back on the porch, relax, and Enjoy!

Living Free Expo Jacksonville Florida

Are you someone or do you have someone in your life that is touched with food allergies? Have you ever wanted to sample different allergen friendly snacks to see how are before you buy them? Have you ever wanted to get more information, advice, and tips on living with food allergies? Well then listen up! I have some news…

The Living Free Expo will be arriving in Jacksonville, Florida on May 18th, and you will not want to miss this. This will be an amazing show full of information, samples, and so much more. Make plans to be there!!! I know my family will be there and I hope to see you all there too! #LivingFreeExpo

Sensibly Decadent Macaroni & Cheese

Let’s be honest. When it comes to comfort foods, macaroni & cheese is at the top of a lot of people’s list. The cheesy, savory dish is a staple item for kids and adults alike. There is something super comforting about warm cheesy pasta goodness when you are really wanting to just feel at home. For the longest time, macaroni & cheese was one of the only items that my son would eat. As time went on, I tried to make versions of mac & cheese that was more nutritious than just your typical boxed variety. This would help me to know that he was getting some important nutrition and helping not cause a complete sensory overload.

When I had to make the move to gluten and dairy free, I was ultimately not prepared to give up my mac & cheese. Well after almost a year of sulking and wishing I could have macaroni & cheese that would not put me in the hospital, I finally decided to just suck it up and figure it out. So my mission was on to create a macaroni & cheese that not only I could eat, but my family would go gagga for. This recipe is not only designed for those people who must adhere to the Color Me Sensible Diet lifestyle, but will also be a great resource for sensory diets. Well, let’s get some ingredients…

Sensibly Decadent Macaroni & Cheese

  • 2 tbsp Gluten-Free Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups Almond Milk
  • 2 cups Shredded Non-Dairy Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz Gluten-Free Elbow Pasta (cooked and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup Roasted Butternut Squash

Notes:

  • You may Choose any shape pasta you want, or even a different type of gluten-free pasta like a lentil pasta to change it up
  • Almond Milk can be substituted with another dairy alternative as desired
  • While this recipe I used Cheddar style Cheese, there are so many possibilities!! Use Swiss-Style, Cheddar Jack-Style, or any variety you choose. Imagine the possibilities!
  • If you want to make this an even more amazing side dish you can add some mix-ins that will help create an amazing profile. Some ideas include: diced ham, broccoli, diced kielbasa, cubed chicken, and so much more!

Now that you have your creative juices going… Let’s get started!

1)Gather together the Ground Mustard, Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Salt, and Cornstarch.

2) In a medium saucepan, combine the Ground Mustard, Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Salt, and Cornstarch. Mix together well.

3) Slowly stir in the Almond Milk and whisk until smooth.

4) Turn the heat onto medium and heat mixture until boiling. Make sure you whisk the mixture to prevent scorching on the bottom. Keep on heat and mix until thickened.

5) Gather up the Butternut Squash and whisk into the milk mixture. Make sure to stir completely.

6) Remove the mixture from the heat. Gather up the shredded cheese and mix into the milk mixture. Whisk together until the cheese is melted completely.

7) Prepare the Gluten-Free Pasta per package directions.

8) In a large saucepan, place the cooked Gluten-Free Pasta into it. Pour the cheese mixture into the pot with the pasta in it. Stir completely in order to make sure the mixture is evenly mixed.

9) Enjoy!

Friendly Meat Hand Pies

Alright, so I admit it. Not everyone has heard of a meat hand pie. However, maybe they have heard of an empanada, beef pattie, meat pastelito, or something similar to that. Meat hand pies are in a sense a small pie that is handheld and full of meat goodness. Seems easy, right?

If there is one thing that I love about a good hand pie, it is the amazing versatility. You can put almost anything as a flavor profile for a hand pie that you would like. Truly the possibilities are endless. I have put together a simple recipe that is allergen-friendly for you to try. I encourage you to take your favorite flavor profiles and really mix it up. Let’s gather up some ingredients.

Friendly Meat Hand Pies

  • 3 cups Gluten-Free Flour (you may not need all 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 2 tbsp Vegan Butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Instant Yeast
  • 1/4 cup Warm Water
  • 1/2 almond milk, warmed
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 pound Ground Lean Beef
  • 1 small Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 small Onion
  • 1 Celery Stalk
  • 5 small Portabello Mushrooms
  • 1 medium Carrot
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic

Notes:

  • These ingredients are just a suggestion for flavor. Here are some alternative flavor profile suggestions to try: BBQ Pork, Spicy Sausage, Italian Hero, Reuben, Shepherd’s Pie, Supreme Taco
  • Depending on what your filling is, you can use a variety of sauces or gravies to add an even more intense flavor profile.
  • Made ahead, these hand pies can freeze well so you can have an easy snack or reheat meal
  • The filling makes more than needed for the dough recipe, take the extra filling and freeze for next time you make some hand pies. 🙂

So, now that you have your creative juices flowing, Let’s get started!

  1. Gather up the Warm Water and Rolled Oats. Place into a bowl and mix together to coat the oats. Let soak for 5 minutes.

2) Gather up the Honey, Almond Milk, Salt, Instant Yeast, and Vegan Butter. Melt the Vegan Butter.

3) Add the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the rolled oats. Mix well.

4) Add the Egg into the bowl mixture. Make sure to mix completely.

5) Add the Gluten-Free Flour 1 cup at a time. Be sure to only add enough Flour until the mixture forms a soft dough. (It may not take all 3 cups. I use King Arthur Measure for Measure and normally only need 2 to 2 1/2 cups)

6) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead together and roll into a ball.

7) Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm area to rise. The dough needs to rise to almost double its size. (Tip:If your house is cold, you can turn on the oven to the lowest temp possible and place inside for a little bit) This process can take up to 1 hour.

8) Gather up the Green Bell Pepper, Carrot, Mushrooms, Celery, and Onion. Grate the carrot up and finely dice the rest of the veggies.

9) Heat up some olive oil in a saute pan.

10) Place the Ground Turkey and Ground Beef into the sauce pan. Cook completely.

11) Once the meat mixture is completely cooked, add the Diced Veggies and Minced Garlic. Saute until the veggies begin to soften.

12) Add the Coconut Curry Seasoning to the pan and mix completely. Cook until the veggies are to the desired tenderness. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

13) Lightly dust a surface with Gluten-Free Flour.

14) Roll out the dough to about a 1/4″ thickness. Cut the dough up into squares that are the desired portion size.

15) Place the portion pieces on a greased cookie sheet.

16) To one corner of the piece, add a small amount of filling on top.

17) Gently fold over the dough to form a pocket.

18) Using a fork, gently press down the edges to crimp and seal the edges shut. Make sure to poke holes in the top as well to allow for proper venting. Place the pockets on a sheet pan about an 1″ apart. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and fully cooked.

19) Once they are finished cooking, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

20) Serve up a side dish and Enjoy!


Sensible Pumpkin Bread

Halloween ushers in a wonderful time of the year for me, FALL BAKING!!

Okay, I know I live in Florida and our fall is at best summer 2, but I love holiday baking season kicking in right after the Halloween pumpkins get carved up. In our family, Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin Muffins are a staple after Halloween. They have such a warmth and comfort to them that really makes us feel at home. As soon as we carve up our pumpkin I begin the process of making ALOT of Pumpkin Bread to hopefully get us through the week..lol.

I want to share with you guys the recipe that has been tried and true in our household for years. Of course, make sure to make any dietary substitutions that you need. Let’ gather up the ingredients!

Sensible Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Butter, melted
  • 15 oz Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/3 cup Almond Milk
  • 2 cups Gluten-Free Flour
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

Notes:

  • You can add any additional toppings or flavor elements you like. We added Dark Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries
  • This recipe works well as Loaves, Muffins, and even Little Muffin Tops.
  • Make batches ahead of time and freeze loaves in the freezer to use as desired
  • You can always substitute out the eggs as well to make this a Vegan Friendly recipe

Now that we have gathered all of our ingredients. Let’s get Started!

1)Preheat oven to 350F.

2)Gather up all ingredients.

3)Place butter in microwave safe bowl and heat until melted.

4)Bring together Melted Butter, Brown Sugar, Sugar, and Vegetable Oil.

5)Place into mixing bowl and mix on low speed until thoroughly incorporated.

6)Add Eggs, Pumpkin Puree, and Almond Milk to the mixer. Mix until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.

7)Add Ground Cloves, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, Salt, and Baking Powder into mixing bowl. Mix until incorporated.

8)Add the Gluten Free Flour into mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Make sure to scrape down the mixing bowl sides to ensure the mixture is mixed thoroughly.

9)Prepare Baking pans by greasing them thoroughly. Add mix into pans spreading evenly. Add any desired toppings at this time.

10)Bake in the oven at 350F for 50 minutes. Make sure that you test the center for doneness by using a toothpick and inserting into middle. When it comes out clean, the bread is done.

11)Allow to cool thoroughly on a cooling rack.

12)Enjoy!


Aftermath of Surgery

Well, November 9th I finally had surgery to revise my spinal fusion from 3 years ago. This was a surgery that I never really wanted to have, but had no choice but to do it. I think what scared me most about this surgery was what complications would arise due to my allergy issues. Leading up to the surgery I had this cacophony of unforeseeable issues that ranged from “what will they try to feed me in the hospital?” to “will my family know where to buy food for me?” and “am I going to have any issues with any of the medicines they try to give me?” Well, if you put all those together, you kinda got what happened..lol

Before my surgery, I did whatever I could to help my family prepare for my surgery.  I actually went to every store that I buy any groceries from and creating a master grocery list. You see, in my town, it seems like every store had a different selection of flavors and product lines than any other store. It is quite ridiculous actually. So I sat there and creating this cheat sheet of what type of food, what brand, what flavor, and where to buy. As ridiculous as I looked walking around grocery stores and taking notes, this would come into handy when my dad had to pick up reinforcements a week after my surgery.  This is also the day when my dad realized just how crazy and confusing shopping can be. When I created my lists, I made sure to include the exact brands and flavors of items that I could have. The reason I did this was because there are way too many ways that allergens can just slip into something, so I pre-checked and only wrote down the ones that I knew were good to go. Being a loving dad, he picked up a different flavor of ice cream for me to try, one I had not put on the list. Upon further review, I can’t have it, but it is awesome to see him trying to help me try new things.

When I packed up some stuff to take to the hospital, I made sure to pack some small snack bags of items that I could eat. When waking up in the recovery suite, they want to make sure that you can keep food and drinks down, so they encourage you to try some juice and crackers. It is because of this that I brought some packaged gluten-free crackers. They definitely came in handy when the hospital had nothing for me to eat when I was ready. While I was shocked that they would have NOTHING for me to eat, I was honestly not that surprised.

Shortly after I began waking up, I started getting nauseous and throwing up. While it was not a lot, it was worrisome. I have never ever had any issues with throwing up when recovering from anesthesia, so what was the issue this time? Well come to find out that the general anesthesia that they used for my surgery has soy oil in it. I AM ALLERGIC TO SOY! So how is it that the hospital was able to give me an anesthetic of an item that I am allergic to? Simple actually, there are not many, if any, other options. Luckily my reaction is more digestive and causes me to throw up and have very uncomfortable digestive issues, what if my reaction was more severe?

Has the pharmaceutical world really not caught up to the fact that they need to really make options for people with allergens? We mandate that food companies must list and label if their items contain any of the top 8 allergens, so why do we not require pharmaceutical companies to do the same?

While I do not know the solution to this problem, I do know one thing. I am glad that the anesthesia is finally completely out of my system, because that sucked. And I am thankful to have a family that loves me and is really willing to try to navigate this strange diet world with me.

Simple Quinoa Rice Pilaf

So I have a confession, I am totally in love with quinoa. There is such a nice flavor that comes from quinoa. It is almost a nutty and savory taste that is accompanied by a slight crunchiness that sends your tastebuds on a journey. When I first was introduced to quinoa I was hesitant, but after just one taste I was hooked. What makes quinoa so intriguing is that it is an ancient grain that is actually a good source of protein as well. Yes… you heard me right..  a grain that is a protein.  Let that sink in for a moment.

I have come up with a simple recipe that can accompany any great meal. There are so many ways that you can personalize your own special pilaf to suite your tastebuds, or even the occasion. Let’s gather up our ingredients.

Simple Quinoa Rice Pilaf

1 cup Quinoa

1 cup Brown Rice

4 cups Water

2 tsp Granulated Beef Boullion

1 stalk Celery, diced

1 medium Onion, diced

1 medium Carrot, diced

2 tbsp Garlic, minced

3 tsp Italian Seasoning

1 tbsp Vegan Butter

Notes:

-Quinoa comes in a lot of different varieties that each have a unique profile. Feel free to experiment and find the type that you like the most

-You can also add sliced nuts such as almond to the mix as well as cranberries or raisins. Remember, feel free to make this recipe your own.

 

Now that we have all the ingredients together. Let’s get started!

1)Gather up your vegetables and make sure to clean off the celery and carrot.

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2)Dice up the celery, carrot, and onion into small dices.

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3)Place the olive oil in a saute pan and heat up over medium heat.

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4)Dissolve the bouillon into the water, making sure that all the bouillon has been completely dissolved.

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5)In a rice cooker place the bouillon water, brown rice ,and quinoa. Turn the rice cooker onto cook. (You can also cook the rice and quinoa on the stove as per manufacturer instructions if you do not have a rice cooker)

 

6)Gather together the diced onions, diced celery, diced carrots, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning.

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7)In the heated saute pan, add the minced garlic and saute until lightly browned.

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8)Add the carrots, celery, and onion and continue to saute.

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9)Once the vegetables are softened and have a little color added to them, add the Italian seasoning and stir well.

 

10)Add the vegan butter to the pan and saute together until the butter is melted and the vegetables are just undercooked.

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11)Once the vegetables are done being sauteed, add to the rice/quinoa mix and stir completely. Allow the rice to complete cooking.

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12)Once the rice/quinoa mix is done cooking, mix together well in order to ensure that all the seasonings are completely incorporated.

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13)Enjoy!

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Sneaky Slider Crawlers

Okay, I admit it. I am not a fan of spiders…. PERIOD! However, I do enjoy getting into the spooky holiday spirit with my kids and thought that making some creepy sliders would really get people into the spirit. It is truly a basic slider recipe that you can create into your own fascinating twist. Let your creative spark go wild. For now, lets gather our ingredients.

Sneaky Slider Crawlers

1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey

4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 cup Gluten-Free Bread Crumbs

1 tsp Onion Powder

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Gluten-Free Rolls

Toppings for Sliders as Desired

French Fries

-Depending on what kind of creature you were wanting to make, you can change the kind of rolls you use for the sliders.

-You can also adapt the toppings and extra pieces depending upon the creature you make

Alright now that we have all of our ingredients together, Let’s get started!!

 

1)Gather up all the ingredients for the sliders.

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2)In a large mixing bowl, combine the Turkey, Worcestershire Sauce, Gluten-Free Breads, Onion Powder, Salt, and Pepper. Mix together thoroughly with your hands.

3)Using a scoop of your desired size, scoop out balls of the meat and place on a sheet pan.

4)Heat up a griddle pan over medium heat. While that is heating up, slightly flatten down the balls of meat to form small patties for the sliders.

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5)Once the griddle is heated up, cook the patties on each side for about 3-5 minutes, or until they are browned and cooked.

6)Once they are thoroughly cooked, place onto a draining rack to help drain off all the excess fat.

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7)Now it is time to assemble your sliders however you would like. Make sure to add any and all toppings to make it extra special that you desire.

8)Sit back and enjoy you Creepy Slider!!

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Sensible Tacos

Nothing says family night more than tacos! Okay well at least in our family. Taco night is a time honored tradition in our household. It may be because they are so delicious and it may be because they were the first food other than chicken nuggets and fries that my son and daughter would eat. Either way, they are full of delicious morsels of nutritious goodies.

This recipe is the first recipe I adapted for my kids to create a healthier and more nutritionally complete meal. It was not until the twins were teenagers that they discovered the secret, but it didn’t matter they loved them. As you will see in the recipe, my son knows the tricks and even helps make tacos now.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it to your liking. It can be adapted to be vegan, different veggies used, and you can also use a different meat. The possibilities are endless and totally up to you.

Sensible Tacos

1 pound ground turkey

1 pint baby portabello mushrooms

1/2 medium green pepper

1/2 medium onion

1 package taco seasoning of choice

2/3 cup water

 

Important notes:

  • You can substitute a different meat for the turkey, just use same weight.
  • You can turn this vegan by substituting a Ground Meat substitute mix found in your freezer section of the grocery store.
  • You can also substitute the turkey with diced tofu if you would like

 

Now time to get the fiesta started. Let’s get started!

1.Take your mushrooms and slice off the end of the stem.

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2.Using a food processor, finely chop up the mushrooms.

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3.You want the pieces to be about the size of ground up pieces of meat.

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4.Use the food processor to also chop up the onion and green pepper.

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5.Again, you are looking for very fine pieces to blend into the taco meat.

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6.Add 1 tbsp olive oil into a saucepot and turn on medium heat.

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7.Cook up the meat, making sure the break up the meat into small pieces, until it is about halfway cooked through. (It helps to have a willing assistant for this part)

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8.Once the meat is cooked about halfway through, add the veggies to the meat and continue to cook through.

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9.Once meat is completely cooked, add the taco seasoning and water. Turn the pot down and simmer for 4 minutes.

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10.I cook until the sauce has thickened on the meat and their is little water left in the pot.

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11.Place tortilla shells on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 3 minutes or until a golden brown. This helps them to be nice and crispy.

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12. Once shells are done, take them out and get ready to assemble the tacos to your hearts content.

13. Enjoy!

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Side Notes:

  • Topping ideas are endless, you can set up a whole spread and make it a create your own taco bar like we do.
  • You can use hard tacos, soft tacos, gluten free tacos, taco salads, or even supreme nachos with this. Let your creativity be your guide.

 

 

Sensible Decadent Fudge Brownies

So, have you ever wanted to be able to eat more than one brownie and not really feel guilty about it? Do you have a a loved one who loves sweets but needs more nutrition in their diet? Do you miss brownies or wish you could have them, but are restricted due to special diets? Then listen up, cause these are definitely the brownies for you.

Sensible Decadent Fudge Brownies

14 oz canned low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

2 large eggs

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon almond milk

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1 cup allergen free chocolate chips

1/2 cup kale, chopped

  • Special note: This recipe can be made vegan as well by substituting the eggs with an alternative , my preference for this recipe is with mashed avocado. For this recipe, you would use 1/2 cup mashed avocado.
  • You can also substitute spinach for the kale, it adds a great flavor profile.

Now, let’s get started.

1. Place chopped kale in boiling water and cook until tender(wilted). Drain when finished cooking.

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2. Rinse and drain black beans to remove the excess sediment off of them.

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3. Add the black beans, kale, sugar, oil, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, cocoa powder, almond milk, coffee into a blender.

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4. Blend until smooth. Make sure that you mix it several times to ensure that the whole mixture is smooth.

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5. Fold in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips.

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6. Now transfer batter into prepared pans. (you can use square pans, round pans, muffin tin, or even loaf pans. The possibilities are endless! If you are using muffin pans, make sure to grease them really good so that way they don’t stick and break in half. These are very tender brownies..)

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7. Top the batter with the remaining chips evenly amongst the batter.

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8. Bake at 350F until a toothpick comes out clean. The baking times will vary anywhere from 13 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on what the size of the pan is.

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9. Enjoy!

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* For extra flavorful fun, place brownie in a bowl and warm for 30 seconds, then top with your favorite ice cream and toppings for an ice cream sundae that is not only Delicious, it’s Nutritious too!!

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