Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Happy Easter to all of those celebrating!

It took all of my will-power not to name these “special” brownies. It is 4/20 after all…if you don’t know what I’m talking about then have fun googling it!

As profitable as it might be to start baking edibles, I don’t think that would be my wisest career move. That and the fact that I don’t live in either California or Colorado…I mean Canada is basically on par with their stance on da ganj but as much of a rebel as I might be, I’m not one to mess with the law. That and the fact that my parents are reading (hi guys!).

Black Bean Brownies I prefer my special brownies drug free. Unless you count beans and spinach as drugs in which case happy high times to ya! Apologies if all of this food porn gave you the munchies.

Fun fact, brownies are my least favourite baked good. I like chocolate as an undertone, not the star of the show. Chocolate chip anything sounds fab to me but anything straight chocolate overwhelms my taste buds. It’s like my mouth is begging for some peanut butter…which btw you need to smear a hella ton of peanut butter on these. Or eat them plain if you’re one of those people. Then again I’m the type of person who puts hides veggies in her brownies so I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to judge.

Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies 2 This post is officially all over the place. I’m starting to think I ate a few too many “special” brownies….uhhhh I mean Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies!

Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 12 brownies

Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T coconut oil, softened*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour**
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar***
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips****

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. 2. In a blender or food processor, combine black beans, spinach and almond milk. Add more almond milk if needed.
  3. 3. Once done blending, add to a bowl and stir in softened coconut oil, eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. 4. In a separate bowl combine cocoa powder, brown rice flour, baking powder, coconut palm sugar and sea salt.
  5. 5. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.
  6. 6. Add in chocolate chips.
  7. 7. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan with coconut oil or non-stick spray.
  8. 8. Add batter to pan and smooth out top.
  9. 9. Bake for 30-35 minutes (less time if you like them fudgier).
  10. 10. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting and removing from pan.
  11. 11. Store in refrigerator.

Notes

*or sub unsalted butter. **can sub in any flour EXCEPT coconut flour. ***or sub brown sugar. ****I use Enjoy Life dairy-free chocolate chips.

http://www.thehealthymaven.com/2014/04/gluten-free-black-bean-brownies.html

Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies 4 Favourite baked good? Are you celebrating 4/20?…just kidding…not kidding…kind of kidding…

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas w/ Tahini & Za’atar

I mentioned a few days ago that I redid my recipe index. It’s been on my to-do list for I don’t knowwwww, 3 months? Well now that the e-book is in full swing, I knew I had to get it done ASAP. So I spent about 2 weeks going through ALL of my posts (over 300) and re-categorizing them. Fortunately my theme has the code to easily put together a recipe page, but you need to make sure all posts are categorized accordingly.

I probably could have done it a lot faster, but I am very easily distracted. It was actually kind of fun going back and looking at old posts. I got to re-live a bunch of my Weekend Recaps (I kind of miss them, I think I may bring them back this summer!) and see my progression in both my writing and photography.

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Tahini Zatar Sauce I know I’ve said this a million times, but it’s literally crazy for me to see how much my photography has improved over the last year. The hard work I put in certainly paid off. One of the realities of being a food blogger is coming to the realization that it’s your pictures that will make or break you. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic but at the end of the day, people eat with their eyes so if you want people to make your recipe you need to make sure your pictures actually get seen using sites like Pinterest or Foodgawker.

There are times when I’m sad that no one will make some of my earlier recipes because the pictures make almond butter look like body scrub, but I refuse to ever re-photograph them. I LOVE that this blog tells my story. I occasionally cringe at some of things I have said or pictures I’ve posted, but at the time it was 100% authentically me. That is far more important to me than being a perfectionist. Plus I ain’t got time fo that!

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Tahini and Za'atar 2 One of the recipes I came across in my Recipe Index building was this one for Roasted Veggies with Tahini Sauce based on my favourite cookbook. I immediately knew what I would be having for dinner that night, but I was far too lazy to go to the grocery store. So instead I adapted it to what I had on hand, cauliflower and chickpeas! I think it may have turned out better than the original. Crunchy chickpeas = god’s gift to the earth.

Dig in!

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas w/ Tahini & Za’atar

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas w/ Tahini & Za’atar

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 T + 1 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • For the Tahini Sauce:
  • 2 T tahini
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T water (or more if it needs more thinning)
  • 2 tsp za'atar
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Chop up cauliflower into florets and drizzle with 1 T of olive oil. Spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
  3. Drain and rinse chickpeas (if using canned) and dry completely. Peel off outer skins.
  4. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil on the chickpeas and spread out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Place chickpeas on middle rack and cauliflower on top rack. Bake both for 30 mins.
  6. Meanwhile, combine tahini, lemon juice and water. Stir to form a paste. If too thick add a bit more water.
  7. Remove cauliflower and chickpeas from oven and drizzle with tahini sauce.
  8. Top with Za'atar, and salt and pepper.
  9. Serve warm.
http://www.thehealthymaven.com/2014/04/roasted-cauliflower-chickpeas-w-tahini-zaatar.html

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Tahini Zatar Sauce 4 Thoughts on recipe re-shoots? What’s your favourite cookbook?

5 Tips To Improve Your SEO

I spend A LOT of time on google. Most of the time I am googling things like “do I have ______ disease?” or “behind the scenes at Kimye’s Vogue photoshoot”, but sometimes I use it for useful things like finding tonight’s dinner recipe.

I never really understood the mastermind that is google until I started a blog. Search engines are almost always the most important traffic referral to your blog. If it isn’t in your top 3, then you may want to research why that might be.

In your research you will likely come across the term “SEO”. Today I want to talk about what this means and some ways you can improve the SEO of your blog. I am certainly not the first person to post on this and there is a wealth of information on SEO out there, but I wanted to highlight 5 tips that have been helpful in improving my SEO and making search engines (mostly google) the #1 traffic driver to THM.

5 tips to improve your SEO First off, what is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, it means making your blog and your blog posts as optimal as possible so that they are easily found by search engines and have a higher page ranking on these sites. Aka how to make your post appear on the first page of google rather than on page 47.

So how can you optimize your blog for search engines? Here are my tips:

1. Start using meta tags. What are meta tags? Meta tags are data tags that are hidden within the HTML of a post. The text in these tags is not displayed, but can be uncoded by search engines to make it easier for them to understand what your page or post is all about. The most important of these is the “description tag” and some argue the “keyword tag” as well. To make it easier for you to input this information into your post, WordPress offers plugins that allow you to fill in this information so it is added to the HTML for you. I use a plugin called “Yoast” and it could not be more simple.

As you can see I just fill in the focus keyword and a brief description of the post. When I first installed this plugin my search engine traffic was 20% of my total traffic. After going through and filling out the meta tags for each post, it jumped to 40%.

yoast 2. Include keywords in your posts. Based on your blog’s niche and topics that people are searching for frequently, certain keywords will drive more traffic to your blog. Keywords deserve their own post entirely so I won’t get into it, but google everything you can on “Google Adwords” and start figuring out which keywords are traffic drivers to your blog and which ones you haven’t tapped into. You’ll find some blogs use A TON of keywords to the point where their posts are boring because it’s literally all keywords. Google will penalize you for that so try to find the middle ground.

3. Set up google authorship. Basically this means you’ve declared ownership over your blog and you get a cute little picture next to your posts when they appear on google. Google will see your page as a reputable source of information and anyone who they see as a trusted author is far more likely to appear higher up in a google search. You will need a google+ profile to sign up for google authorship. Once you have a google+ profile it is worth signing up for authorship using this tutorial. It could not be easier.

google authorship 4. Time to start using Google+. Okay, I am terrible about this. Mostly because I’m too lazy to sign out of my personal gmail and into my THM gmail account. But apparently posts that are also posted onto your google+ page improves that post’s SEO. Could someone please remind me to do this?

5. Use Rich Snippets for recipes. I swear I’m still speaking English here. This point is mainly for food bloggers. Ever googled a recipe and seen that some of the results will have pictures of the recipes next to them? Notice how these ones almost always appear on the first couple of pages? You can have your pretty little recipe image too AND improve the SEO of that post by using Rich Snippets.

Like meta tags, this is a way of providing search engines with additional information about your web page so it can display more useful information to people searching for similar content. Once again, plugins to the rescue! For recipes to appear with a picture you must provide a certain amount of information in your post (more info here) but using specific recipe plugins and filling in the appropriate info will make your life easier. To my knowledge two plugins are effective for Rich Snippets, ziplist and easy recipe (can someone confirm this??). I love this post on Food Blogger Pro on the steps you need to take to get your recipe image to appear in google and improve your page’s SEO.

Rich Snippets Whew! That was a lot of info. Did I lose you there? Again, these are just some tips. This post is also extremely dumbed down and I’m trying to not be very technical so SEO wizards don’t hate on me.

I hope you learned something new. No need to implement any or all of the above. The #1 thing is that you create good, quality content. If you do that, people will read.

So tell me, did you learn something new? Are you already SEO pros or are you still completely confused?

The Best Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s hard dating a food blogger. People think C gets it so easy because he’s surrounded by delicious food pretty consistently, but we both know the truth. Yes, he is well fed and I take full-respsonsibility for this, but people don’t know what really goes down behind the scenes.

Now I’m not about to throw myself under the bus and C is far too considerate to do this either, but I will let you in on a bit of what goes down in the Maven household. Let’s rewind to this past Sunday.

The best grain-free chocolate chip cookies 10:00 AM-I bounce out of bed declaring I will be attempting round 3 of my cinnamon roll adventure. After a night out of drinking (happy bday Sam!) C was not entirely pleased by my peppiness.

10:05 AM-owwwww my head hurts. Proceed to complain about it for the next minute while insisting I will never drink again (by again I mean not until tomorrow). C nods in agreement.

10:20 AM-the entire kitchen looks like it was hit by a flour hurricane. C looks on in horror knowing he will be the one cleaning it (I don’t clean).

12:00 PM- Kick C out of the house so I can photograph in peace…I have to shoot alone (don’t ask). C surprisingly agrees.

The Best Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 2 Fast forward to later that day…

5:30 PM- Declare I am in a bad mood because of a bit of a fiasco over miso paste in the grocery store. C googles miso paste.

7:30 PM- Dinner is ready! But not before I spend 5 mins photographing my meal. C looks like he might eat my face off, bath salts stylez.

7:35 PM- Remind C that I splurged on fresh salmon for the 5th time in 5 mins and that he better like it. C tells me it’s delicious for the 5th time.

9:00 PM- Announce that I want to bake cookies. C is super excited.

9:01 PM- Discover I have no more flour so flourless it is! Spill almond meal all over the counter and scream “NOOOOOOO”. C has a look of terror on his face.

9:30 PM- Cookies come out of the oven and they are unreal! Inform C he can only eat one now since I’ve now decided I am going to post them and have to save them for a photo-shoot tomorrow…C looks like he might cry.

It ain’t easy dating me! Luckily I found myself a gem who puts up with my dramatic, crazy self.

Come home C! I have a full batch of THE BEST grain-free chocolate chip cookies waiting for ya :)

The Best Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 20 cookies

The Best Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp baking soda (divided)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened**
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce-warmed (20-30 seconds in microwave or on stove top)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chocolate chips***

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine almond meal, coconut flour, flaxseed, coconut palm sugar, salt and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl combine warmed applesauce with a 1/4 tsp of baking soda. Make sure it fizzles. If it doesn't, start over with fresh applesauce and warm up for longer.
  4. Combine applesauce mixture with coconut oil, egg, and vanilla.
  5. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  6. Add in chocolate chips.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  8. Roll cookies into balls and then flatten slightly on tray.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes (or longer for crispier) then remove and let sit on tray for 5 more mins.
  10. Remove from tray and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Notes

*or brown sugar. **or use softened butter. ***or I use enjoy life dairy-free chocolate chips.

http://www.thehealthymaven.com/2014/04/best-grain-free-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Featured On: Allergy-Free Wednesdays

The Best Grain-Free Chocolate 4 Who puts up with your kitchen shenanigans? Anyone else equally as dramatic as me?