Who likes healthy or gluten-free dishes? For years I was a bit skeptical as I bit into a new dish bearing the title “healthy”. While I was intrigued with the thought of it being healthy, it was that thing of expecting it to be a good notch inferior to regular baked goods. You know how crumbly those gluten-free bars tend to be, not to mention no sugar in them- none at all.
In an attempt to be nice to my body, I steered away from indulging too much in sugar laden dishes. I experimented with natural sweeteners like stevia. We tried whole wheat flours, still my cookies were less than ideal. I gulped when I set a plate of brown- tinted cookies in front of my cookie-loving husband. I cringed when my bars crumbled as I handed them to our children. Sigh. I wanted to be a good mother, I wanted to feed healthy attractive tasty cookies to my family, yet it seemed I’d come up on the short side more than not. Ah, that dear hubby of mine, no, he’d never complain. Yet, without him telling me, I knew how much he enjoys moist cookies with lots of frosting. Again he’d assure me that he really does not want me to use too much sugar or white flour for our growing family.
Even when we found some recipes we as a family enjoyed, I was a bit wary at the idea of passing them on to you all. You know, what if it sounds like just another dry, less than tasty deal. Then one day I received a kind letter from a reader in Inverness, Florida, inquiring why we use so much sugar.
I was like, okay, I need to be more specific as to what we personally use as sweeteners. This is the deal: the recipes I send your way are what most people in our community uses, then when I’m making it for our family I switch to natural sweeteners such as stevia and our latest favorite, birch xylitol. A doctor, who works with a number of Daniel’s family members explained that birch xylitol delivers many health benefits while sweetening any dish. As with many other baking products, we buy it in large quantities to get it for a better price. By the way, just like chocolate, don’t feed birch xylitol to your dog, as their stomachs aren’t made for it and could make them sick!
Julia, who loves baking grew weary of always needing to substitute so many items in a single recipe. Upon her request I bought a new cookbook (Thanks to a reader who sent money for me to buy something for myself!)
This cookbook, Amazingly Simple, by Ruth Shirk, is one she had seen at my mother’s house. She declared it would be just what she needs to do more baking for our family. True to her word, since that first day we got it, she has used it more times than I could count! Seven-year-old Austin is on her heels, constantly wanting to make cookies or bars. The full color photos show them just what the end product will look like.
And now, from a mother’s perspective of things, you know what it’s like to see your child struggling with physical or emotional needs. After years of trial and knowing that something is just not right, we finally decided that as a family, we’ll change our diet. For now we cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, eggs, (we use our quail eggs, as they’re digested easier), and other items that tend to cause food allergies. The results have been worth the efforts many times over. I thank God, He’s the One who heard all the day and night pleas, for our little ones! There’s been times when God miraculously brought healing for the moment. We praise Him for that, as well as natural foods to nourish our bodies.
As you can hear, we have found recipes that really do strike our fancy, still bearing the name “healthy.”
Here is our all-time favorite. My cousin Regina, who is doing mission work in Bolivia, shared it with us. We have made many a pan full since then. Matter of fact we mix up the dry ingredients, like 12 to 24 batches at a time, then I keep the mixture in my canister and use it like brownie mix. With our size family I always make more than one batch at a time. We have this giant pan Daniel’s parents gave to us that holds four batches. This makes enough to last more than one day, giving me a break!
If you serve these brownies to guests, they will never guess beans to be the secret ingredient.
Healthy Fudge Brownies
2 cups black beans, cooked and drained
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla (opt)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey or xylitol
6 Tbsp. cocoa
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. stevia powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
Blend eggs in a blender until foamy, add cooked beans (hot or cold), then add remaining ingredients and blend til smooth. Pour into a greased 9 by 9 inch pan. If desired, sprinkle with a handful chocolate chips or chopped nuts of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
We enjoy it hot from the oven with fresh milk or ice cream. Leftovers may be refrigerated or frozen.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish house-wife in rural Illinois. She is the third writer of The Amish Cook column since its inception in 1991. Yoder can be reached by writing: The Amish Cook, P.O. Box 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042.
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