Zero Waste Groceries + Black Bean Brownie Recipe

The zero waste movement is gaining traction and I’ve decided to give it ago. According to Greenpeace, the average Australian produces 1.5 tonnes of waste each year. And, as an island nation, an innordiante amount of plastic ends up in our oceans. I honestly couldn’t justify the waste to myself. I wanted to make a change.

I’m not 100% zero waste yet, and I’m not sure when I will be. Being chronically ill, sometimes I need foods of convenience and, by and large, those foods come in plastic packaging. That said, I’m still wanting to reduce my waste and was overjoyed when a bulk foods store opened up in my area. Another amazing bonus is that they’re pretty vegan-friendly!

They had plenty of options in term of staples like flours (including gluten free optionss), pasta, rice, dried beans but also stocked plenty of snacks, treats and chemical free hygiene and cleaning products. A whole wall is taken up with assorted oils on tap. Everything is organic which is great for those with chronic illness who need to avoid processed foods or have chemical sensitivities. Depsite being organic, the prices are on par with or even cheaper than the supermarket.

I loaded up on beans, lentils, rice, magnesium bath flakes and vegan chocolate. So, naturally, I had to make black bean brownies with delicious mylk chocolate chunks!

I know what you’re thinking. Black beans? In brownies. Gross.

I understand, friends, I was like you, once. A total purist with my food (I hate different foods even touching on my plate) I originally balked at the idea of mixing black beans and chocolate – but it works! You get the nutrients of the black beans but I guarantee that you wouldn’t know they were there. I love getting people to guess the secret ingredient in these bad boys and no one ever does.

Ok, so evidently taking a photo of the brownies was an afterthought… after four brownies after… still, they look pretty good, right?

This is inspired by a recipe over at Chocolate Covered Katie, but I doubled it and made a few small changes. i doubled it because the brownies have very little rise and, as a result, come out pretty flat. I like a thicker brownie.

The only special equipment you need for this is a food processor. You won’t even need a mixing bowl – you just throw ingredients into the processor and let the blades do their thing! The limited number of steps is why this recipe is a favourite for days when I want to bake, but don’t have enough spoons for anything complicated or time consuming.

Another plus of these brownies is that, with very little tweaking, they can become gluten and sugar free which is great for those of you with food sensitivities.

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups black turtle beans (soaked overnight). You can also use two drained cans of black beans but dried beans are waste-free and much cheaper. If using cans – recycle!
  • 4 T cacao powder. (The original recipe calls for cocoa powder, but cacao has a lot of great health benefits. If you don’t have cacao, you’re welcome to substitute. Just keeep an eye out for hidden sugars)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (make sure it’s certified gluten-free if you have sensitivities or sub quinoa flakes)
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup. 1 cup if sugar-free (Emphasis on pure. Don’t fall for the ‘maple-flavoured’ cheap stuff. Your brownies will be oversweet)
  • 4 T raw sugar, if using.
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil. I prefer the unpressed, unrefined stuff, but if you don’t want too much of a coconut kick, pressed coconut oil is much subtler in flavour and scent. Personally, I think the coconut plays off the cacao really well.
  • 1 tsp baking powder (another ingredient to check for hidden gluten)
  • 1 1/4 cup roughly chopped mylk chocolate
  • Optional: roughly chopped nuts or more chopped chocolate to sprinkle on top.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 if using fahrenheit)
  2. Drain and rinse the black beans. Throw into the food processor and pulse (this is an optional step, but i prefer the beans to be finer)
  3. Add all other ingredients except for chocolate chunks and blend really well. This could take a few minutes depending on the quality of your processor. Use this time to get a drink, check your phone, pat your pets (and pity their inability to eat chocolate)
  4. Once the mixture is smooth, take out the blade and lick that sucker clean! Just kidding, please don’t lick sharp objects. Instead, use a spoon to scrap some back into the processor, and some into your mouth!
  5. Stir in the chocolate chunks
  6. Line a brownie pan with greasproof paper and pouur in the mixture.
  7. Top with nuts if you’re using them. I love to use hazelnuts.
  8. Bake for 25- 35 minutes. If you’re topping with more chocolate, sprinkle it on while it’s still hot. Wait ten to fifteen minutes before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.

I love having them fresh with a scoop of soy or coconut ice cream. If you like to snap pictures of your food, do it right away because these beauties will be gone fast!

I hope you enjoy the recipe. If you give it a try, let me know what you think in the comments. If you’re intereste in more recipes, let me know that, too!

My Morning Ritual

I like the word ‘ritual’ more than ‘routine’. To me, a routine sounds dull, monotonous. Mechanical. A routine is intentional, as minimalism is intentional. It is something I have crafted for myself to give myself a good start to the day.

To be perfectly honest with you guys. I am not a morning person. I’m not even an afternoon person. My chronotype is a bear, meaning I crave sleep and am most productive mid-morning. I have trouble getting up and am pretty eager to climb back under the duvet at the end of the day. In the mornings, I more or less resemble this:

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Suffice to say, mornings are rough for me. So I take them slow. My alarm goes off at about 5:30.

Yes. 5:30. While I need sleep, it’s about quality over quantity and oversleeping can damage the quality of sleep you have at night. The early wake-up ensures I get enough z’s but have time for an easygoing morning. That said, I don’t get up straight away. I like to have a leisurely stretch because my muscles will be tight and tender. I’ll start on the glass of water I leave beside the bed. After 15 minutes or so, I get myself up. Patrick is a night owl, so he’ll still be sleeping.

I’ll stick in some earphones and listen to a podcast or some upbeat music while I wash my face and brush my teeth. It helps to wake me up. Next I’ll do a yoga video (Yoga With Adriene on YouTube is my favourite) followed by some guided meditation on Headspace. Keeping calm is central to my health and gentle stretching is great for my body so I try and do both. Even if it’s just ten minutes apiece. Afterwards, it’s time to make breakfast. My current breakfast obsession is ‘cinnamon toast breakfast quinoa‘ by Cookie and Kate. I like to top it off with some chia seeds and blueberries. I make enough for two and try and coax Patrick out of bed to eat. If not, it goes in the fridge for later. I like it when he gets up, though. A few minutes with a loved one is a great way to start the day.

I’ll make up a mug of cold brew coffee to have with it and only then do I allow myself to check my phone if Patrick is still sleeping. Usually it’s to check out the headlines on my Flipboard app.

After breakfast, I get dressed. I have a shower and pick what I’m wearing the night before so it’s a snap to get ready. My makeup is pretty minimal because my medication makes my skin pretty acne-prone. Just some concealer under my eyes, some tinted moisturiser and brow filler and I am done. Then I usually have time to have a quick play with my cat, Leo, before it’s time to kiss my boys goodbye and head out the door.
How do you like to start your day? Let me know your favourite morning rituals in the comments.