Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Beans, beans the magical fruit.

I couldn't decide what recipe to list today!!! It was a tie between my delicious crepes and my newest recipe. 
Have you ever finally sat down on the couch after a long exhausting day of errands, vacuuming, dusting, cooking, and laundry. You feel so accomplished and successful. That is exactly how I feel after I open the oven and see a spectacular recipe baked to perfection. 
Now sometimes, looks can be deceiving. Like with my banana bread. It looked fantastic every time but needed to be tweaked several times before the inside tasted as good as it looked. It's so tricky baking with alternatives that it can be super frustrating to spend 10$ worth of almond flour on a recipe that doesn't rise, or set.
Talk about frustrating!!!!!!!!!! GAH!
So, I decided that after a few months of the same old same old huge grocery bill no matter how I plan it out.. I needed to change how I was making some things.
The most expensive things that we now buy are:
1. Produce
2. Almond Flour
3. Agave Nectar
4. Palm Sugar
Almond flour is super duper pricey in Canada, so I will be stocking up on my next road trip to the USA. However, that doesn't help me right now. The produce really can't be changed much. I used to buy more canned vegetables until the preservatives in the cans became worse than the cost of fresh.
Agave, I buy a min of 2 Liters a month. Only to barely scrape by the last 10 days because I have none left and using recipes that need it and don't get it become a disaster. The cost of agave is just a tad lower than almond flour itself.
Palm Sugar, I have found the last few times on a huge sale and then I seriously just buy the whole bin. That sale makes it cheaper to make palm syrup than to buy Agave Nectar and that never goes on sale.
All of this has lead to my last few posts on making your own sweeteners out of dates and palm sugar, and my pizza crust being made without a whole brick of cheese. It always costs more to eat better, yea I know/.
So, my drive to come up with a new recipe for my 3 favorite things is not determination. 2 days ago my first trial and error lead to me almost in tears. I used a recipe I had found, barely tweaked it at all and ended up with a huge disaster. I unfortunately have this bad habit of obsessing over a recipe that didn't work and making it work or at the very least understanding how and why it failed.

SO, this is what I came up with. My favorite things to make a few times every month is chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with my sugar free sprinkles. AND my delicious lemon cranberry muffins. (I have not posted that recipe online yet because I have been searching for a way to make them different then just straight out of the book). Don't worry. I will list that recipe soon but in the mean time I wanted to take that delicious recipe and come up with my own that is BETTER for you and CHEAPER.
I compared all of the nutrition from the lemon cranberry muffins made with almond flour versus my new recipe. I was shocked to say that making a recipe using beans as the binder, moisture and bulk of the recipe versus almond flour, almond butter or starch and coconut flour is lower in carbs by almost 50% and costs much much less.
It costs about $2.21 per cup of almond flour versus 2 cups of beans is $0.79. PLUS if you buy dry beans and cook them yourself it's only 3$ per 2 kg bag. This of course will vary depending on brand but my almond meal is about 1650 calories divided per 12 muffins cup versus 400 cal with beans divided by 15.
So why have I waited so long to use beans? I already use beans in my pizza crust, and my waffles..... I used them to make my dad's birthday cake at chirstmas!!! I am certain I could use it in pancakes also. (I will be trying those shortly) Why not in my muffins, and cupcakes?
So I searched Google for hours it seemed and finally stumbled upon a bean recipe without flour. PERFECT!!!!! Without flour is even better! Better for you, lower in carbs and economical. I did have to tweak the recipe in order to better the taste and to eliminate refined sugar.
Ta da! Here was my delicious Chocolate Cupcake Recipe, without ANY flour :)

Chocolate Bean Devil's Food Cupcakes - Grain Free, Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Starch Free 

In a food processor:
2 C or 1 lrg 19oz can Black beans, rinsed and Drained
3 eggs
3 t real vanilla extract 
Blend until creamy and no visible chunks 1-2 min

Add all at once:
3/4 C dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 C sucralose/Stevia**
3 T organic raw agave nectar/palm syrup/date syrup (please see my recipes)
1 1/2 t baking soda aluminum free
1 1/2 t gluten free baking powder
1/2 fine sea salt
1/3 C instant skim milk powder/organic coconut milk powder or 1C evaporated milk
Puree until thick

As food processor is running slowly pour in 1/2 C warm strong coffee.

Pulse until well blended, smooth and creamy. Line cupcake tin with parchment paper liners. Scoop 1/4 C into each mold. 350 degrees for 20-25 min.

They should be firm in the center when pressed and not caved in. I find the beans will rise high when baking and sink in if they are not cooked all the way through as they cool. 15 Cupcakes.

If you don't have a food processor simply puree the beans, vanilla and eggs in a blender or magic bullet and then transfer to a mixer.


MMMMmmm yummy. Chocolate cupcakes are delicious. AND the best part is they taste exactly like the recipe I was making with coconut flour that was very expensive but t o  d i e  f o r !!
The coffee gives it a devils food taste that I love, if you don't want to use it no worries. Water will give you a great chocolatey taste.
I do enjoy using milk powder in recipes. It saves on milk, which I also don't always have, suppose you would be able to substitute evaporated milk instead or perhaps just milk but that is not something I am able to judge the outcome of. Using beans is tricky, if there is too much liquid the outside edges will cook and the center will be gummy and raw. If there is not enough liquid the cake will crack and be dry. I find using the least amount of liquid offers a more firm cake.

NEXT is my excellent Vanilla Bean Cupcakes. YES, this recipe was not even a tweaked one I searched for. It was completely from my own head. I of course did use my chocolate recipe and changed it slightly but in all of the right ways!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes - Sugar Free, Grain Free, Gluten Free

Add to food processor:
2 C or 1 lrg 19oz can White Navy or Great Northern Beans rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 t Real Vanilla Extract
Puree until smooth

Add to processor all at once:
 3 T raw agave nectar/palm syrup/date syrup
1 1/2 sucralose/palm Sugar
1/4 C coconut flour
1 1/2 baking soda aluminum free
1 1/2 gluten free baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C instant skim milk powder/organic coconut milk powder/1/3 C evaporated milk
Puree until thick

While processor is running slowly pour in 3 T filtered water. 

Pulse until well blended, smooth and creamy. Line cupcake tin with parchment paper liners. Scoop 1/4 C into each mold. 350 degrees for 20-25 min.

They should be firm in the center when pressed and not caved in. I find the beans will rise high when baking and sink in if they are not cooked all the way through as they cool. 15 Cupcakes.

MMmmmmm delicious!! They were moist, vanillla, decadent and you cant even tell by looking at them there is something missing. lol. 

Now of course to top off the cupcakes you want a delicious frosting with no added sugar, butter, starch, chemicals or flavors or there is no point in eating a good for you cupcake. Sooooo I was thinking, how can I make a frosting into a frosting without adding flour, nuts, agave, starch, chocolate, cream cheese or butter.
I didn't feel like whip cream today. And the coconut whip cream, no not that either. Meringue? bleh.. Kyle would rather die then eat it lol. Butter cream frosting is delicious but full of everything bad. Then there was a light bulb!!!!!!!!!!!

WHAT ABOUT YOGURT! You know how they make sour cream glaze and cashew cream? What if I use the thick part of the yogurt to make my frosting?? hmm yum.
So here it is:

Vanilla Yogurt Frosting - Sugar free, Grain free, Gluten Free, Starch Free

1 C thick plain unsweetened Greek or Balkan yogurt or yogurt cheese
1/2 C sucralose or stevia to taste
1 t clear vanilla extract
1/2 instant milk powder
2 T coconut flour (to thicken)* only add if wanting it to stay in shape

I put everything in a bowl and whisked it together. I let it sit in the fridge for 1 hour and then piped it onto my cupcakes. If you are just going to spread the icing on or don't care about looks omit the coconut flour and just drizzle it on. The coconut flour just keeps it thicker so when I pipe my pretty design it stands up.
Go ahead and make it any color or flavor. The best part is, it tastes similar to that jar of processed marshmallow fluff my mom used to buy when I was a kid.

AND last but not least, is my Cranberry muffins. MMmmm I love muffins for breakfast. When you don't eat bread you need something to go with your boiled egg. These are perfect. The best part, they are way easier on the wallet and the waist line.

Lemon Cranberry Muffins - Sugar free, Gluten free, Grain Free

In a food processor:
2 C or 1 lrg 19oz can pinto beans rinsed and drained
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
Puree until smooth.

Add to food processor all at once:
1/2 C blanched almond meal/chopped walnuts/chopped pumpkin seeds
1/2 C flax meal
1/2 C date syrup or 1/4 C raw agave nectar/palm syrup
1/2 C palm sugar/brown sugar sucralose blend
1 1/2 t baking soda aluminum free
1 1/2 t gluten free baking powder 
1/4 t fine sea salt
1/3 c instant skim milk powder/organic coconut milk powder
3 T lemon juice

Puree until mixed, add:
1 1/2 T cinnamon
1 C whole cranberries/blueberries/raspberries/strawberries
1 dash nutmeg
Pulse just until mixed.

Spoon into parchment muffin liners until 3/4 full. Sprinkle muffin tops with palm sugar before baking.350 degrees for 30-35 min.

Please invite me over for breakfast before you make these as I would really like some. These are fantastic. You can change the almond meal for more flax or any kind of seeds, or nuts you so desire. Whatever you want to add into your diet for the morning energy. If you want to add in fruit that is sweet such as a banana you will need to adapt the sugar measurements to accommodate. It will be a trial and error. If you want to bake banana muffins I strongly suggest baking my banana bread recipe in a muffin tin, well greased and perhaps floured.

I suggest following the bean suggestions I have offered.  If you can't find one of the bean types, navy beans are suitable for every recipe as they have a pale color and bland taste. I chose black beans for the chocolate mostly for the look and because they are very easy to come by. Pinto beans were chosen for the muffins because they are a light brown and pinkish bean which made a classic brown muffin batter. You could substitute even garbanzo beans for a nuttier taste if you like. Using a bean such as chick peas will give a chewier texture as they are harder to puree. Experiment.

Well..... I am off to work on some orders and then take the night off to play with Willa. I would appreciate your comments :)

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