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Amazingly healthy and low-fat black bean brownies

Back in my fit and sportsy days in college, I had made a post about black bean protein brownies. That recipe had included large amounts of artificial sweeteners and whey protein.

Since then, my tastes have changed and I very rarely use even Stevia as a calorie-free sweetener. Instead, I have been enjoying the natural sweet taste of regular sweeteners, such as honey and maple syrup. I’ve also cut down on the protein consumption, eliminating my use of whey. However, I still love using black beans in my brownie recipes.


While these brownies aren’t necessarily the nicest-looking on the block due to the mix of ingredients, the taste is a completely different story. In my experience, black beans have been excellent as a base for gluten-free chocolatey desserts, since I’ve found that cocoa doesn’t fit in well with coconut flour or rice flour-based recipes. Black beans enhance the dessert with an earthiness that pairs well with cacao, and one can argue they are much healthier than their grain-heavy counterpart.

Freshly out of the oven

After much experimentation, I’ve also figured out how to keep the brownies nice and moist despite the low fat content of the overall recipe. One of the keys is not to overbake.

The entire batch is 5g fat, 228g carbs, 76g fiber, and 69g protein. Behold, excitement, for the recipe is below.

1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
3 Tablespoons quick-cooking oats
chocolate chips and nuts, to taste

(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish or muffin pan.
(2) Puree the beans, pumpkin, cocoa, maple syrup, coffee, vanilla, and salt in a blender until the mixture resembles paste.
(3) Fold in the oats and chocolate chips/nuts if using.
(4) Pour mixture into the baking pan or divide between 8-9 muffin cups. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the mixture comes out barely clean.
(5) Let cool for at least 10 minutes before consuming. Overnight is even better.


Dai Dai

Milk chocolate disc reviews

A while back I had compared two unsweetened baking chocolate brands and examined the flavors and mouthfeel capacities for snacking and using in desserts. Today I have two milk chocolate brands suited for the same purposes.

Madecasse chocolate

I had high hopes for the Madecasse chocolate since it was my favorite as an unsweetened chocolate. However, with the milk chocolate discs, they tasted more like a smashed up version of the 100% cacao with milk and sugar instead of a smooth blend of the ingredients. I also wasn’t entirely convinced that the fruity flavors of the Madegascar beans were a good fit with milk in the first place. Also, these discs also had some chalkiness in the mouthfeel which was slightly unpleasant.

Ingredients: cane sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla powder.

Gaia chocolate

The Gaia discs were smoother and much less chalky than the Madecasse discs. The cacao flavor in the Gaia was more toned down and earthy, which made for a nice pairing with the milk and sugar. In my opinion, these discs represented a good, solid milk chocolate that is neither too sweet nor too milky, and is perfect for any kind of use and consumption.

Ingredients: organic sugar, organic milk powder, organic cocoa butter, organic chocolate liquor, organic soy lecithin, and organic vanilla.

Chocolate discs

The baking disc idea is pretty fun. I personally like discs better than chocolate chips. They melt in the mouth a lot easier, which then translates into an easy process when melting for a dessert recipe.

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‘Uala latkes

As my Throwback Thursday, I’m making a tribute to my “How to cook ‘Uala” post with a latke recipe.

Latkes are traditionally prepared with regular potatoes, for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. Basically they are potato pancakes that are comprised of a mixture of potatoes, egg and onions and pan fried until crispy, usually served with a dollop of sour cream or applesauce. I figured it was time that I put a spin on this by using my favorite starch: the ‘uala. Considering many island desserts use coconut along with this Hawaiian/Okinawan sweet potato, I chose to use coconut as the flour and oil accompaniments to this recipe. I could not have been happier about the coconutty and starchy results.


The latke pictured above is a little burnt since I was running low on oil for my last batch. I dislike using too much additional oil on final batches because any leftover oils left in the pan after cooking goes to waste. Plus, I was being a very silly and ravenous person and had already eaten the first batch while cooking the second. Directions below indicate proper amounts of cooking oil that don’t skimp like I do, assuming also using a pan big enough to fit enough batter for just two batches.

1 lb ‘uala
1 egg
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp coconut oil

(1) Peel the ‘uala. Shred and squeeze out any excess moisture on paper towels. Combine with egg, coconut flour, salt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
(2) Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil on medium-high in a pan. After a few minutes when it is hot, drop large scoops of the batter into the pan. Flatten to 1/2-inch thick rounds with diameter of approximately 4 inches. Cover and fry for about 4 minutes or when the edges start to brown.
(3) Flip the pancakes over and continue to fry, covered, an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer latkes to a plate.
(4) Heat the other 1 Tbsp of coconut oil in the pan and repeat the cooking process until the remaining latkes have been formed and cooked.
(5) Turn off stove and allow the latkes to cool slightly before serving.


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Lotus carrot pancakes

One of winter’s best vegetables in traditional Chinese medicine is the lotus root. Its cold nature serves to counterbalance the excess of indoor heating, while being great for pushing blood through the system and clearing out the lungs for those winter colds. Starchy and filling, lotus generally makes a great comfort food in the winter, and this winter for me is no exception.


Lotus roots are pretty unusual-looking once cut. Filled with holes, the lotus can make dishes look pretty and delicate when cut properly at the cross-section. However, while most Chinese traditional dishes make use of the beauty of this vegetable, the recipe I’m presenting today is one that does not since it is whittled down through grating.

Lotus roots typically come in multi-sectioned sticks, similar to sugar cane. The one pictured is only one section of a root. At the Asian markets, they can be found both sectioned off or as a whole root. In order to select good ones, make sure that there are no deeply blackened or discolored spots on the root. Black streaks are typical since these are grown in mud.

Lotus and carrot

Root vegetables are especially good for making crispy pancakes. Their starch helps to keep the vegetable stable during the frying process, which leads to a sturdy, yet crunchy texture. In the lotus root pancakes I’ve added carrots for some sweetness and color.

I had mentioned before that I’ve begun to use the shredder attachment to my food processor. It has been working wonders with shredding raw vegetables in very little time, with these root vegetables being no exception.

Lotus root cake

With the size and scope of the recipe below, I was able to fry eight cakes in two batches in my 14-inch skillet. I did not work hard to form all the cakes into nice, round shapes, but they cooked evenly just the same. For crispier cakes, these can be made into much smaller pancakes at smaller thickness in the same amount of cooking time.

Lotus root cake

1 section of lotus root, about 1/2 lb
2 medium carrots, about 1/4 lb
2 medium scallions, about 1/2 cup chopped
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp cooking fat (I used olive oil)

(1) Peel the lotus root and carrot’s outer layers. Shred each vegetable and squeeze out any excess moisture on paper towels. Combine in a large bowl.
(2) Roughly chop the scallion and add to the vegetables, along with the egg and salt. Mix well.
(3) Heat 1/2 Tbsp cooking fat on medium-high in a pan. After a few minutes when it is hot, drop large scoops of the batter into the pan. Flatten to 1/2-inch thick rounds with diameter of approximately 4 inches. Cover and fry for about 5 minutes or when the edges start to brown.
(4) Flip the pancakes over and continue to fry, covered, an additional 2-3 minutes.
(5) Heat the other 1/2 Tbsp of cooking fat in the pan and repeat the cooking process until the remaining cakes have been formed and cooked.
(6) Turn off stove and transfer to a plate. Allow to cool slightly before serving.


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Dirty cauliflower rice with organs

While browsing through the farmers’ market last weekend, I was reacquainted with an old friend. This friend’s name is cauliflower.

Yellow cauliflower

While the farmer had a huge batch of white cauliflower laid out on tables, the yellow and purple ones jumped out at me with their beautiful and unusual colors. I ended up taking home this yellow one due to two reasons. First was that the purple and yellow cauliflower bunches tended to have a higher mass in the florets rather than the stem. Stems are harder to “rice” than florets for cauliflower rice. Second was that the yellow ones I found at the market tended to be larger than the purple ones. If I buy a whole cauliflower for $3, I might as well look for a heavy one.

As I continued with my shopping at the nearby Whole Foods, I became reacquainted with a couple more old friends: liver and gizzard. I had not had any for the last couple of months and I felt that a heavy dose of vitamins was in order. A quick decision at the market and I was headed in the direction of dirty rice, low-carb style.

This time on the cauliflower I decided to save myself the pain of using the food processor’s pulse function and, instead, used the shredder attachment that I had stored in the back of the cabinet. I was quite surprised at the difference it made! Not only did I not have to worry about pulsing in batches, but I also did not have to put so much effort into cutting the florets into evenly sized pieces. I will definitely using my shredder in future cauliflower rice recipes.

Dirty Rice

The liver, while small in quantity, really gave the whole recipe a rich flavor boost. While it is possible to also add some sausage to a dirty rice dish, I wanted to keep the recipe a bit more neutral in flavor, especially since the recipe already had so many flavors coming from the vegetables and cajun spices. However, Your Mileage May Vary.

For the recipe below, the jalapeño is optional if spiciness is desired. I left it out in mine because I can’t handle spicy food very well.

1/3 lb chicken gizzard
1/4 lb chicken liver
1 medium onion, about 1/2 lb
3 cloves garlic
1 small jalapeño, if desired
1 red bell pepper, about 1/3 lb
2 large stalks celery
3/4 lb raw cauliflower, about 3 cups “riced”
1 Tbsp cooking fat (I used lard)
8-10 sprigs parsley, about 1/2 cup chopped
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

(1) Clean the gizzards and remove the membranes. Dice the gizzard and liver into 1/2″ pieces.
(2) Dice the onion and mince the garlic and the jalapeno, if using. Dice the red bell pepper and celery. Set aside.
(3) Rice the cauliflower via grater, food processor, blender, or manual chopping method. Set aside.
(4) Heat cooking fat on medium-high heat. When hot, add gizzard and onion and cook until the gizzards begin popping, about 4-5 minutes. Add liver and garlic, stir to incorporate, and cook an additional 4-5 minutes.
(5) Coarsely chop parsley and set aside.
(6) Add the bell pepper and celery. Saute an additional 3 minutes.
(7) Add the cauliflower and stir for several minutes, until slightly browned. Turn down heat to medium and add parsley, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and salt. Stir to combine.
(8) Turn off heat and let stand for several minutes. Serve warm.

Bon appetit!

Dai Dai

Gluten-free, low-fat sesame cookies

Lots of healthy cookies. Who wouldn’t want that? Following my baking kick from a couple weeks ago on gluten-free low-fat orange cookies, I modified the recipe to incorporate different flavors that would also work well with the coconut flour. This week I am featuring an Asian flavor-inspired healthy cookies by using sesame.

Sesame is quite prominant in Chinese desserts. There are many dessert soups and pastries and I’ve noticed this flavor gaining momentum in the exotic dessert menus at restaurants and dessert parlors. My reasoning was, why not make a cookie?

Ground sesame

I used ground sesame that one can typically find in an Asian store as many traditional Chinese desserts and breakfasts use these bags of caloric deliciousness. I’d much rather use these bags of ground sesame as the pieces are more finely ground, similar to flour, than what one could achieve at home with even mortar and pestle. The only drawback is that the seed oils can sit for a long time and spoil. However, I’ve always used up these bags fast enough so that they never tasted stale.

Sesame cookies

These cookies aren’t too sweet, but I think they are pretty darn delicious due to the sesame flavor. The sesame taste is still prevalent in the cookie despite the tendency of coconut to be overbearing in a recipe, which is a nice win for another coconut flour recipe.

1 large banana, about 8 inches
1.5 Tbsp maple syrup or equivalent in sweetener
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tablespoons coconut flour
3 Tablespoons ground sesame seeds
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup milk
butter, to prevent sticking

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
(2) Mash the banana and mix with the maple syrup and vanilla extract.
(3) Sift together coconut flour, ground sesame seeds, baking powder, and salt, and add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.
(4) Add the milk. Mix well to incorporate.
(5) Butter a flat cookie sheet. Spoon the batter onto the sheet and flatten into 1 1/2″ rounds. These will not change shape in the oven.
(6) Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the outside of the cookies are barely browned.
(7) Cool 5-10 minutes before consuming. The longer the sit, the better it tastes.


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Righteously Raw minis

I’ve been a big fan of raw chocolates for a while. Not because of the entire raw food mentality, but the fact that raw chocolate tends to be more abundant in flavor per bite than their processed counterparts, albeit quite untamed. When I found the Righteously Raw minis at Whole Foods, I felt it would be fun to try out a variety of raw cacao flavors without breaking the bank, as they were individually wrapped and selling for $0.50. These typically come in huge boxes of 64 pieces online.


I couldn’t handle the synergy spice flavor and had to throw it out. There was way too much spice and I could barely taste the chocolate. Ingredients were organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic raw agave, coconut oil, organic vanilla bean powder, organic cinnamon, organic lucuma powder, cayenne powder, aji panca powder.

The 83% dark was standard. Not too much going on. Mostly earthy with a hint of fruitiness. It was also a bit chalky. Ingredients: organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic raw agave, organic coconut oil, organic vanilla bean powder.


The divine mint was my favorite flavor. It had a naturally minty flavor among the earthy tones of the cacao, resulting in a globally beautiful taste. Ingredients: organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic raw agave, organic raw coconut oil, organic vanilla bean powder, essential peppermint oil.

The maca was definitely the most interesting of the four. The maca bar is similar to white chocolate in that the only ingredient stemming from the cacao bean was the cacao butter. It had a malty flavor, of which I assume came from the maca and mesquite. I was surprised that there were no sweeteners, since it felt it could have been comparable to a darker milk chocolate bar. This was also the chalkiest of the four. Ingredients were organic cacao butter, organic maca powder, organic mesquite powder, organic vanilla bean powder, salt.

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