Destitute Diva

A diva on the inside, but slightly destitute on the outside

Ginger Brownie Recipe

Recently, I have decided to hop aboard the chocolate bandwagon. I wouldn’t call myself a fanatic just yet, but I will admit that chocolate does have its benefits. I am referring, of course, to dark chocolate which I believe includes chocolate that contains at least 60% cacao in it.  Its numerous benefits include, but are not limited to, boosting your mood, curbing your sugar cravings, and keeping your energy up.  I was most interested in these particular benefits because I:

1) Sometimes need a surge of endorphins (and it has been too hot and humid to engage in any form of exercise)

2) Sometimes have a random sweet tooth that can’t be satiated with fruits (and I have no desire to succumb to …candy).

3) Sometimes feel that 2pm slump (I believe this is a thing, right?)

Now, naturally, if I was going to look for a chocolate bar to snack on, it would have to be organic.  In addition to buying mostly organic food in general (which helps me eat less because organic is not cheap), I also realized that whenever I consume non-organic chocolate in any form, my face breaks out incessantly as opposed to when I consume organic chocolate (I use organic cacao in baking), my face stays the same (my skin, especially my face has a sensitivity for just about everything, but that is a topic for another post.)

Anyway, I contemplated where I could find the chocolate that I was looking for and finally settled on going to Fairway (I suppose that I could have also tried Whole Foods, but Whole Foods is the kind of market that makes me feel poor the minute I step inside. Fairway tends to give me a bit more hope). Fortunately for me, in the candy aisle, I found what I was looking for.  I stumbled across a brand called Green &Blacks.  It was fair trade, organic and on sale. I picked up a 70 percent dark chocolate bar and since I was feeling a little bit frisky, a ginger dark chocolate bar.  I didn’t actually try the chocolate until the next day, which was my mistake. I should have tried it while I was still standing in Fairway because OH MY GOODNESS, it was insanely good.  I had opened the ginger chocolate first because I wanted to enjoy them in order of cacao content and was pleasantly surprised by the taste.  I never would have thought that the combination of ginger and chocolate would be so good. I also never imagined that I would enjoy chocolate.  When I broke off a piece and took that first bite, I finally understood Juliette Binoche’s character in “Chocolat” for I truly savored that heavenly piece of chocolate  

   This chocolate is the equivalent of what I assume it’s like to have Roux (Johnny Depp) as your character’s love interest

But I digress…

The point is that it was delicious and immediately, I thought of a new type of brownie to bake when my *ahem* monthly chocolate craving hits.  So far, I have my spicy cayenne brownies and my floral lavender brownies, now I would try aromatic ginger brownies.  I also wanted to make them using my gluten-free flour so that my mom could have some. I gathered my ingredients and got to baking a small batch of brownies:  

 -3/4 cup organic brown sugar (I like using the organic Trader Joe’s brown sugar because it’s soft and moist which makes it perfect for baking.)

-3/4 cup organic coconut oil (butter and I are not really on speaking terms anymore)

-1/4 cup unsweetened organic cacao powder (Marshall’s/ Home Goods/ TJ Maxx are great for having organic stuff at lower prices.)

-1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I use Red Mill’s baking flour)

-1/4 cup milled flaxseed (so I don’t use as much flour)

-2 organic eggs

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-1/4 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt 

-3/4 tsp organic ground ginger

-1/2 bar of organic ginger chocolate (15 pieces, melted)

Dump all of these a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon and, voilà! You now have brownie mix. Just try not to eat it all when you taste it to make sure that you approve of the amount of ginger.  Once it’s approved, you are ready to bake it. 

I enjoy baking in my baby cupcake maker because I think that the small baked goods that it produces are cute and easier to share.   

 I was able to make 28 brownie bites using it. However, it is because I was using this machine that I opted to melt the chocolate first. Had I used my mini -loaf pans, which is what I normally use to make brownies, I simply would have broken up the chocolate into pieces and dumped them in.  

This is my trial recipe. They came out pretty well and they were delicious.  Using this recipe, I calculated that each brownie bite was about 104 calories. When I do them again, I plan on doing them a bit differently.  For example, I have made brownies using cooked, blended black beans instead of flour and it was quite tasty (it just doesn’t really rise).  I would also decrease the sugar just a tad; maybe take it from 3/4 cup to 5/8 cup because the chocolate bar does have sugar.  The last thing I would want to do is make sure to buy and use fresh ginger to take the brownies from “oh yea, I can taste the ginger” to ” this brownie is actually solving some minor digestive issues”.   


My Meatless Monday

Alright, so recently I jumped on the “Meatless Mondays” bandwagon. It is something that I do sparingly (mostly because my mom likes meat so much and she is usually off on Mondays which means she is the one cooking. And if she is cooking, there is a very likely chance that there is meat). But sometimes, I do get my way. This past Monday was one of those times. It started with a trip to Trader Joe’s. One of the best things about Trader Joe’s (or TJ’s for those of us that are fortunate enough to have one close by that we can frequent) is that you can always (in my experience) count on them to be serving samples of something to eat and something to drink. The day that I went to Trader Joe’s, they served samples of Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers topped with Corn and Chile tomato-less salsa.

I took one bite and I immediately grabbed both the burger package and the jar of salsa and threw them into my shopping cart. I mentally began planning a wonderfully meatless meal. This burger with the topping, along with salad and guacamole. It would be the perfect “Meatless Monday” meal. It would be healthy and more importantly, filling. A filling meal is very important. I like feeling satiated when I am finished eating dinner so that I don’t feel compelled to pick up a late-night snack.
The first thing that I did was put two burgers (one for me and one for my unsuspecting mother) in the oven. The burgers take about 15 minutes in total to be ready, but that plenty of time to get the rest of the meal going.

First the salad:
One of my favorite foods to mix into salad is bulgur wheat. It is quick and easy to make and it is very healthy. I cook it every few days.

I tasted this once when my mom made it as a replacement for rice and now I use it all the time. Goodbye rice and hello bulgur wheat. Just one of the few changes that I have been doing to become healthier. And this bag goes a long way (which is important for someone on a budget).

Step 1: Pour some olive oil into a medium saucepan and put on medium high. Let it heat up for about 20 seconds and add some chopped garlic and onions.
Step 2: Let the garlic and onions caramelize a bit and add some beans. Doesn’t really matter what kind. I just use whatever Goya beans I find in my cupboard.
Step 3: Add some spice. Could be a Knorr packet or a chicken bouillon cube. I usually put one cube for 1.75 cups of bulgur wheat (I like making extra so that I don’t have to cook it every time I eat a salad). Mix it all up and some water. For 1.75 cups of wheat, I put 2 cups of water. If I am feeling fancy, I sprinkle some Herbes de Provence in the water.
Step 4: When the water boils, put in the bulgur wheat. Mix it around for a bit using a spoon, then put the heat on low, and cover the saucepan ¾ of the way. It needs to cook but the water also needs to evaporate. This should take about five minutes.
Step 5: When the water is non-existent (do not let it burn of course and check to make sure that it is cooked. It should have a sort of chewy but grainy texture), cover it completely and remove from the stove. You now need it to cool down.

I think that this is considered 3/4 closed.

Now onto the rest of the salad:
You can omit or add something as you see fit, but these are the ingredients that make this salad addictive for me and those I make it for: sliced cabbage (red or green or BOTH!), Herb Blend Salad from Earthbound Farm (a basic Spring Mix that includes parsley, dill and cilantro), chopped carrots, and corn (I buy it frozen from Trader Joe’s and I cook it myself). I never forget the bulgur wheat. You can add as much as you want. I am usually satisfied with four to five tablespoons. I don’t do salad dressing (those Hidden Valley commercials always make me cringe) but I love olive oil (especially if it’s Greek) and sea salt. I also recently discovered how much I liked flaxseed oil on a salad. I discovered this by mistake. I had just finished the olive oil and needed a little more. I thought the flaxseed oil was olive oil and I didn’t realize my mistake until I had already used it. Turns out that it was one of the rare occasions when a mistake worked in my favor. Now I can’t make a salad without it.
When you have added all of your salad ingredients to the bowl, close it and shake. The salad needs to be well mixed. You want the oils and the salt to touch everything.
The salad is now done. After you check on the burger, it is time for the guacamole:
When I am craving guacamole (which is often), I either do it right, or not at all. And unlike what people might think, I do not need chips to eat guacamole; just a fork.  Technically the most important ingredient is avocado, but for me, they are all important. The ingredients are:
2 Avocados
½ lime,
3-4 garlic cloves (crushed using a mortar and pestle)
1/4 Vidalia onion chopped into small pieces
Jalapeno pepper (how much you chop up and add depends on how spicy you want it)
A couple dashes of sea salt
1 tomato (I usually use plum tomatoes.  They are easier for me to chop up into small pieces)
A dash of black pepper
A small handful of cilantro (chopped up)
A dollop of Greek yogurt.
Mix it all up with a fork until it is the consistency that you need it to be and that’s it: You have your guacamole.
Now you have all of your parts and by now your burger should be ready. Now place everything on your plate and enjoy!

The complete meal on a plate. Just looking at this picture makes me remember how delicious it was. I need to make another run to Trader Joe’s.

Satisfying my craving: Brownie Edition

I am not exactly what I would call a “chocolate-lover”.  I know, it’s weird, a girl who doesn’t like chocolate.  Every time I mention this, I get weird looks.  But chocolate (unless it’s breakable white chocolate) is not my thing.  However, sometimes, I find myself craving the very thing that I am not fond of: chocolate.  But, I don’t just want any type of chocolate, I want it (I need it) in brownie form. Neither a truffle nor a piece of chocolate cake will do; it needs to be a brownie.

In the past, as soon as I would have my craving, I would buy some brownies.  This would usually result in an immense amount of guilt because it was not exactly conducive to my attempts at leading healthy life.  So, I decided that instead of ignoring my cravings (which would end up making things worse because I always would succumb to them in a gluttonous fashion), I would satisfy them with my own creation.  I do love to bake and to cook, so it only made sense that if it was within my abilities to make something that I would do just that.  All I had to do was find a simple brownie recipe, and then make it my own by substituting healthier ingredients and then adding something a little extra.

When I make brownies, I make two different kinds:  A spicy brownie (it contains ground cayenne pepper) and the other is a floral brownie (it contains lavender).  I have tried different measurements and ingredients (including using black beans instead of flour), but this is my favorite.  It could be healthier, but it is at least guilt free (especially if you don’t eat all of it at once).

So the ingredients that I use are as follows:

¾ cup of natural sugar (I try to use anything but fully processed white sugar. I like organic, raw, brown sugar the best.)

¾ cup of organic coconut oil

¼ cup of organic raw cacao powder

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tsp of almond extract (mine actually is from Haiti is called “Essence Noyau” but I believe it’s the same thing.  It smells like almonds)

2 organic eggs

½ cup of whole wheat flour

¼ cup of milled flaxseed

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp sea salt (Since I have started using the Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, I have never looked back)

2 tbls Godiva Liqueur (I use the white chocolate one, but I am sure that the other flavors would work as well.)

¾ tsp of ground cayenne pepper/ ¾ tsp whole lavender (depending on which kind of brownie you are making)

The ingredients can be added in any order.  The order in which they are written just happens to be the order that I use. Just make sure of two things:  1) the coconut oil needs to be melted and 2) the eggs needs to be beaten.  As I add the ingredients, I use a wooden spoon to mix them.  I prefer using a wooden spoon to an electric mixer (so old school, right?) because of how the texture of whatever I am baking turns out.  The electric mixer tends to make the texture of my cakes/brownies too smooth.  But that’s just me.  If you prefer very smooth, I would suggest using an electric mixer. 

            This recipe can serve about 10 with each serving being about 265 calories. 
This is right before I put it in the oven. I used mini loaf pans.

This is when it cool enough for me to cut and eat a small piece of each. And goodness, did I EVER enjoy eating this. I can’t look at these pictures for too long. My mouth is watering.

I am addicted to…Journals

The other day, Anthropologie had a really huge sale.  It could have been in the stores as well, but for sure, they had a huge sale online.  Now, let me tell you: Anthropologie DOES NOT have sales very often.  This thing about slashing prices and selling things at a fraction of the cost is NOT Anthro’s style, but there I was browsing their website and looking at all of these lovely low prices (may I remind you, reader, that this is a relative term.  “Low” at Anthropologie is still not very “low”, if you catch my drift.  It’s just low for them).

Anyway, I got so excited looking at their website. Then I started laughing because I realized something.  I had skimmed the whole website, but I was spending a lot of time looking at the books. More specifically, I was looking at the journals.  Only a couple of them were on sale, but I was staring at those journals and salivating.  It didn’t matter that they were plain (beautifully leather-bound, but filled with unlined paper).  It didn’t matter that I didn’t need them.  It didn’t matter that I already had a plethora of journals already in my possession.  None of that mattered, because in that moment, I had found exactly what I wanted to buy.  The one I had really caught my attention was a recipe journal that had handmade crochet on it.  It was on sale for ten dollars less than the original price and it was calling my name.  I had planned on making a D.I.Y. recipe journal book thingy but I quickly threw that idea out of the window when I saw that this one was on sale.  Before long, the recipe journal was in my shopping bag along with three other journals.  I was all set to purchase when something happened. My mom came over to me with her Ipad to compare shopping bags.  She wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any of the same things (we have similar tastes, especially in jewelry). When I saw her shopping bag, I got annoyed because I wanted to know why she needed more tops and necklaces.  Obviously, when it comes to fashion, we don’t really need anything, but I believe (this mostly applies to clothing) that you should try to get rid of at least one thing, before buying out a store.  Not abiding by this rule leads to clutter and an almost hoarder lifestyle. A huge NO NO.  I hate clutter.  I hate mess.  I hate anything that reminds me of hoarding.  So this means that I hate my mother’s room.

But I digress.  The point is that while all these thoughts were running through my head, it brought me back to my shopping cart.  I was about to buy more journals without even knowing what I was planning on writing in them.  Was I finished with any of my journals? No.  Did I have the shelf space for anymore journals? No.  So why was I buying them? The answer: I wasn’t.  I won’t be a hypocrite.  I decided that night that I would not buy a journal without finding a purpose for it first.

Most of my journals, fortunately, have a purpose:

1) Main Journal- I use this one to practice writing. It is used for answering journal prompts.

2) Dream Journal- If I remember a dream, I jot it down here.

3) Food Journal- I read somewhere that if you write down what you eat, you are less likely to overeat/eat unhealthily; and this could no be more true.  You don’t realize how much goes into your body until you see it on paper.

4) Money Journal- My weak attempt to keep to a somewhat strict budget (me being “destitute” and whatnot.)

5) Healthy Journal- Once I learn about the various benefits of any fruit, vegetable, spice, oil, or supplement, I write it down. This particular journal has a table of contents.

6) Online Journal- So much happens online and with so many social media networks, it is hard to keep track.

7) Quote Journal- If I hear it and I like it, I will write it.

8) Book Journal-  I remember writing book reports when I was younger.  I do not remember liking them.  Now that I am older, I see the benefit: I can remember the books better if I jot down some notes about them (favorite character, favorite quotes, a new word to add to my vocabulary etc…)

This should be it.  I believe that I have named all of them.  However, I still have at least four that are just collecting dust.  And don’t even get me started on the various notebooks that I own that represent each language that I am trying to learn (or brush up on).

My mom thinks I am weird, but I refuse to believe that I am the only one like this (about the writing thing, not the hoarding journals thing).  In this age where our eyes are constantly looking at screens, I find that it is nice to take a break and look at paper.  I don’t know about everyone else, but too much screen time hurts my eyes and gives me a headache.  Maybe that is why it took me FOREVER to start blogging…





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