Deceptively Decadent Brownies

Decadent healthy brownies. Which word does not belong? The answer is that they all belong, because there really is such thing as a decadent yet healthy brownie! Don’t believe me? Well, the proof is in the pudding… I mean batter.IMG_3508

It took many tries, but I finally perfected a recipe for the perfect brownies. I sacrificed myself as a brownie taste tester, and had to eat upwards of six different brownies and batters- what a rough life! It ended in triumph though, as this recipe was crowned the winner of the best brownie… possibly ever.IMG_3506

The best part about these brownies? They’re also secretly healthy, or at least healthier than most other brownie recipes floating around the inter web. How? Well first of all, they’re vegan so they’re not chock-full of artery-clogging, high calorie butter. Second of all, they have a healthy secret ingredient in them. Hint: it’s a ~trendy~ leafy green. If you guessed kale, you win a virtual brownie!IMG_3503

Yes, kale brownies. Am I crazy for creating these? Only slightly. I promise they don’t taste like kale though. Seriously. They just taste like gooey, cakey, chocolatey goodness. I got the idea of sticking veggies into dessert from the cookbook Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. The whole point of the cookbook is to encourage parents to sneak veggies into their kids’ diets, and you already know I love it. Anyone who likes desert but is trying to be a little healthier, or wants an excuse to eat more brownies, will love this recipe. They’re “healthy,” so you can eat more of them- right?!DSC_0010DSC_0046IMG_3505

FYI, these brownies are definitely more cakey than crunchy or chewy- they’re pretty tall and thick. That just means there’s more to love! But if you’re a fan of a very crunchy, chewy, crackly-topped brownie than these might not be for you. I encourage everyone to give them a try though, because why not be a little insane and sneak some vegetables into brownies?IMG_3504

Deceptively Decadent Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup oil (canola or vegetable)
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 cup KALE WATER*
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. First make the kale water* by combining ½ cup water and 1 cup raw kale in a blender and blending on high for a minute, or until the kale is completely blended.

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3. Mix together the dry ingredients, from flour to baking powder.

4. Add in the wet ingredients, aka the rest of the ingredients including the kale water. Mix until just combined and add in a ½ cup of chocolate chips.

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5. Pour into an 9″ X 9″ oiled brownie pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the brownies. Let cool for like 15 minutes, then cut and enjoy!

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Give these a try and let me know how you like them! Take a picture and tag me @peanutbutterandle on Instagram or email it to me at peanutbutterandle@gmail.com.

And lastly, how do you feel about sneaking vegetables into desserts? Do you like it, or are you offended at even the idea of it?

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decadent brownies

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Six-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Fact: Americans eat an average of six pounds of peanut butter per person per year with children being the largest consumers.

Fact: Peanut butter is tasty, heart-healthy, and protein-packed.

Fact: Peanut butter is one of the greatest food inventions of all time.

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Peanut butter covers all the food craving groups: salty, fatty, and sweet. It can be used for sweet or savory purposes in baked goods, in frostings, in stir-frys, spread on toast or fruit, or in a classic peanut butter & jelly sandwichMy favorite way to eat peanut butter, besides by the spoonful? In these cookies.

I love these cookies because they are super simple to make, and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. I made them with ingredients I already had in my dorm room.

dsc_0046dsc_0055You really have no reason not to make them, because even if you don’t have an oven, you can at least make the dough and eat it all (since it’s vegan so no fear of salmonella!). Or better yet, you can try to make them in the microwave by microwaving balls of dough for a minute. They won’t taste as good as the oven version though. The microwave can’t give you those crispy edges like the oven can.

Give these cookies a try! Peanut butter lovers will rejoice at this sweet, delectable, and soft yet crispy cookie (p.s.- my article first appeared on Spoon University).

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Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes around 20 cookies

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. This will take around a minute of quick mixing.
  3. Add in the flour a 1/3 of a cup at a time. Mix the batter after each 1/3 cup is added.
  4. Mix in the baking soda.
  5. Mix in the water. If batter seems extremely thick, add in a Tbsp more of water.
  6. Roll the cookie dough into 1 inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown and firm.
  8. Once cookies are out of the oven, flatten them with a fork in 2 different directions to give the classic criss-cross pattern.
  9. Let the cookies cool for at least 5 minutes before taking them off the pan and enjoying them.

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Maple Glazed Pecans

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Have you ever heard the soundtrack for “Hamilton: an American Musical?”

I finally started listening to it this past week (better late than never) and I. CAN’T. STOP.

It is so dang good. The tunes are catchy, the writing is phenomenal, and the singers are so talented as they rap AND sing. I used to not like rap very much, but after this listening experience I like it a lot. I maybe don’t like trap rap… but I’m in love with the “Hamilton” rap. If you haven’t listened to Hamilton, this is your friendly suggestion to listen to it as it will improve your life.

The “Hamilton” music is getting me through my final exams, which are this week and next. Any time I don’t think I can make it through exams, I listen to Hamilton and think about how I’m going to study hard so I’m not not “Helpless” and that “I’m not throwing away my shot.” I think that I’ll “Stay Alive” through exams if I study “Non-Stop” but also “Take A Break” or two. I’ll be “Satisfied” if I get good grades. Ok I’ll stop with the Hamilton references now.

dsc_0018You know what’s also keeping me sane through the midst of final exams? DEEZ NUTS (sorry, I had to).

These nuts, though. They’re sweet and salty and utterly delicious. What’s not to love about pecans glazed with maple syrup and roasted in the oven until they’re caramelized? Pecans are full of protein and magnesium, which reduces blood pressure. It’s good to reduce blood pressure now as it will probably spike during exams due to stress.

The sweetness in these nuts makes them addictive. They taste like fall. They make a great snack by the handful, and they are wonderful added to salads.

My call to action for you today is to 1) listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, and 2) make these maple-roasted nuts. Both are addictive and will change your life for the better. img_6212

Maple Glazed Pecans

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then spread out the pecans on it.
  3. Drizzle all the maple syrup over the pecans, making sure to really coat each pecan.
  4. Sprinkle salt over the pecans.
  5. Bake the pecans for 35 minutes, taking out every 10 minutes to stir, until maple syrup hardens.
  6. Let cool, then enjoy! These keep for a few weeks when stored in an airtight container.

Happy Wednesday!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Wow it’s been a hot second since I’ve blogged. It’s good to be back though!

In the time that I haven’t blogged, I’ve…

  • been running avidly! I am a member of the running club at my college, so I’ve gotten really into running this fall. Last weekend, our team drove 9 hours to Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA for collegiate running club nationals. I ran the most challenging 6K ever- hill after hill after hill, but I PRed (got a personal record) which was exciting. That weekend we also explored downtown Harrisburg (the capitol of PA), toured the Hershey candy world factory, and saw a political protest. It was quite the weekend.
  • went to multiple Big Ten college football games.
  • did a corn maze with my family when I went home for the weekend.
  • went on my first Uber ride.
  • met multiple other vegans, either in class or in the community kitchen near my dorm.
  • baked multiple times in the community kitchen.
  • and last and probably the most noteworthy, I got hit by a flying table.

Wait what?!

Okay so here’s the backstory. On Halloween weekend, I went to a fraternity party because why not try new things in college. I was standing with a crowd of people on the lawn outside the frat, facing away from the house, when ALL OF A SUDDEN someone threw a WOODEN COFFEE table out a second story window. When it fell, it hit the entire back of my legs and ankles with significant force. Needless to say, I fell down, cried, and went inside and yelled at a bunch of people in the frat because one of their members THREW A TABLE OUT A WINDOW AND INTO A CROWD OF PEOPLE AND IT HIT ME (and really only me). The table scraped up my legs, my calves and ankles swelled up to double their size, and my legs became badly bruised. It was hard to walk for the first week after it happened and I wasn’t able to work out, BUT I got super lucky because the table didn’t break any of my bones. I had to get an X-ray to check.

Even though getting a table thrown at me is bad luck, there is a silver lining to the story. I got lucky with the fact that the table only hit my legs. If I had been standing a foot closer to the house, it could have hit me in the head. That would have been bad, to say the very least. As in, I could have died (not to be dramatic or anything).

I’d say I’ve had a very interesting month or so since we’ve last talked. It’s been a good month though. Especially because I made these cookies.

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These cookies are a fall twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. They’re adapted from my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, the chocolate chip cookies in Chloe’s Vegan Desserts. I replaced half of the butter in the original recipe for pumpkin and added in a bunch of quintessential fall spices. It makes the cookies a smidge healthier and adds some flair to them.

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The whole recipe came about this past week when a few of my friends and I decided to bake together in the community kitchen. We made these pumpkin muffins (in cake form because we couldn’t find a muffin pan) and had leftover pumpkin so we decided to add it in to the cookies we’d planned on making. It turned out really well!

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Fun fact, we had to open the canned pumpkin with scissors and a knife because we couldn’t find a can opener, and we had to mix the cookie batter in a saucepan because we couldn’t find a mixing bowl. The cookies still turned out though.

I hope you like these cookies as much as we did, and I hope you can mix them in a regular bowl! Let me know if you make them, and let me know what you’ve been up to in the last little bit!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Chloe Coscarelli’s regular chocolate chip cookies in Chloe’s Vegan Desserts

Makes 40 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch OR 2 Tbsp more flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegan butter, softened (I use Earth Balance)
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s semisweet )

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cream together the butter, pumpkin, and sugars.
  3. Add in the water and vanilla. Beat the mixture, in a stand mixer or by mixing rapidly by hand, until it is light and fluffy (for around 2 minutes).
  4. Mix in the flour one cup at a time.
  5. Mix in the baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix until batter is just combined.
  6. Add in the chocolate chips. More is better!
  7. Roll the cookies into inch balls on a cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes.
  8. Flatten the cookies when they come out of the oven by slamming the pan hard down onto the counter once or twice.
  9. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!

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Happy early Thanksgiving! What are you making for Thanksgiving dessert?

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Chocolate Candy Halloween Bark

Halloween-themed candy bark that takes five minutes to prepare and tastes sinfully delicious? Yes PLEASE.

All you have to do is melt some chocolate, add your favorite candy into it, and refrigerate it for about an hour to make a simple, sugar-filled bark. It’s a fun and different way to eat Halloween candy.

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The nice thing about this bark is that you can tailor it to your dietary restrictions. Make it gluten-free by using certified gluten-free chocolate and candy (so leave out the Oreos and swap the pretzel M&M’s for crushed gluten-free pretzels). Make it vegan by using vegan chocolate chipsnon-dairy milk, and your favorite vegan halloween candies. No Whey Chocolate makes vegan versions of pretzel M&M’s and Reese’s piecescalled NoNo’s that you can order online and use instead of the originals.

I made this candy bark in my dorm room microwave but couldn’t find vegan chocolate candy on my college campus. Thus, the chocolate was vegan but the candy was not so I just gave it to some friends.

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There’s no reason not to make this chocolatey treat. It’s so simple that even the laziest college student can make it. As I said, I made it in my dorm room microwave! Plus, you can snack on the chocolate as you make it.

Gift everyone you know, from your friends to your arch-enemy, this treat (instead of a trick)!

Chocolate Candy Halloween Bark

makes 8 servings

this recipe was first published in my second Spoon University article!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 package pretzel M&M’s/ NoNo’s
  • 1 package peanut M&M’s/ 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1 package Reese’s pieces/ Pea”not” butter NoNo’s
  • 8 crushed Oreos

Instructions

Gather your ingredients.

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Measure out chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet) and milk (I used soy) into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture to smoothen it out. Add in more milk as needed.

Add the candy to the chocolate and mix everything together.

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Line a cutting board, piece of cardboard, or cardstock with plastic wrap. Pour the bark mixture onto the plastic wrap and smooth it out so it’s about a ½ inch thick.

Happy Halloween! Eat all the candy you want today and have fun seeing all the trick-or-treaters! Let me know the coolest costume you saw.

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Fall Travel Essentials

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The temperature is decreasing in fall, and with these colder winds comes an itch to leave, to fly away somewhere warmer and summery. At least that’s how the birds and I both feel. As much as I like this crisp season full of everything pumpkin and falling leaves, I miss summer and crave warmth like you wouldn’t believe.

I don’t have any plans to travel THIS fall except to go to my real home for Thanksgiving break, but that’s only an hour away. However, I made a list of my fall travel essentials for those of you ready to jet off to somewhere exciting. Check out my travel advice and carry-on essentials, and let me know where you’re off to on your next adventure!

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Travel Advice:

  • Wear comfy clothing that you can sleep and relax in. My favorite travel clothes are leggings, a graphic t-shirt, and a sweatshirt. The pants from Betabrand are also great to travel in, and they have options from cute travel jeans to yoga pants.
    • Remember to keep in mind the temperature of the place you’re traveling to so you’ll be prepared clothing-wise when you land.
  • Wear layers. The temperature in an airport can be hotter than the sun or colder than Antartica within the same hour . Wearing layers allows you to be comfortable at any temperature by either taking clothes off or putting them on.
  • Bring a carry-on neck pillow so you can sleep more comfortably in the airport or on the plane.
  • Bring a carry-on backpack full of travel essentials.
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Some travel essentials: a comfy sweatshirt, granola bars, a journal and writing utensils, a water bottle, hand sanitizer, and comfy tennis shoes.

Here’s what’s in my carry-on backpack:

  • an extra pair of clothing just in case my suitcase gets lost: a pair of pants, a t-shirt, and undergarments.
  • activities for the plane
    • paperback books
    • my phone and headphones
    • journal and pens to write all about my travel experiences so I can share them on the blog! Check out my travel log on my trip to Guatemala here and my Asia trip log here.
  • snacks
    • granola/ granola bars
    • nuts
    • dried fruit
  • mini hand sanitizer
  • lip balm and lotion because planes are SO DRY
  • a water bottle
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Can you tell I like LÄRABARS?

Want ideas of what to pack in your suitcase? Look here! Want more travel advice, especially about traveling on a special diet (like veganism)? Look here!

Good luck with your fall travel! Where are you going, or where would you like to go this fall?

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4-Ingredient Microwave Cookies + an Announcement

Hey and happy Wednesday!

Let’s get right to it- I have an exciting announcement. Have you ever heard of Spoon University? If you haven’t, it’s a food writing website for college students by college students. Colleges have chapters, and each chapter makes articles and hosts cool events like this one. I joined my school’s chapter and published my first post today (!!!!).

I am so excited about being involved with Spoon. How excited you ask?

THIS EXCITED.

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Here’s a pic of me and donuts the size of my FACE at an event our chapter hosted this past Monday. 

My article is a recipe of four-ingredient cookies that you can make in your microwave. They’re great for busy college students everywhere because they only contain four ingredients and take like six minutes total to make and bake. They’re healthy enough to make for breakfast, but they’re also a great healthy snack or dessert for those not wanting to gain the freshman 15. Give them a try and show “Cupcake Wars” that you don’t need an oven to make satisfying dessert!

Please check out my first article and tell me what you think! HERE‘S the link. 

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Four-Ingredient Microwave Cookies

Makes 6 cookies

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup nut butter of choice- I used peanut butter
  • 3 100 calorie packets of oats (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Mash the banana in a small bowl or mug.
  2. Stir in the nut butter.
  3. Stir in the oats.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Form the cookie dough into 2 inch balls. Place on a (microwave safe) plate and heat in the microwave for a minute and 10 seconds.
  6. Take out of the microwave, let cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!

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I hope your day is as fun as you are.

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