5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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Unbelievable Brownies! Half Healthy, All Insanely Good!

The truth is, making a cake from scratch isn’t a big deal and doesn’t even take much longer than a cake mix. And brownies? Seriously exactly the same as a mix. The other advantage of making a cake or brownies from scratch, particularly brownies (because they’re always chocolate!), is that you can use cacao powder. That’s like cocoa powder before all the antioxidants are stripped from it. Cacao powder can actually have more antioxidants than blueberries! You know that whole, “But chocolate is good for you…” line we’ve been hearing for a few years. It actually can be true. But no, not a milk chocolate bar. Sorry!

This is what it looks like:

Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Powder Raw Chocolate

The Duncan Hines brownie mix I used in the following recipe isn’t exactly healthy like cacao powder. However, with the secret healthy ingredient, the brownies are definitely in a different league than they would have been made with eggs and oil! And what is that? Black Beans! I know a lot of people have been trying this black bean trick lately. This particular mix (found on was a new one for me.

Brownie Mix-Black Bean Brownies Recipe Brownie Mix-Black Bean Brownies

Brownie Mix Black Bean Brownies

1 can (15 oz) black beans

1 cup water

1 brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines 13 x 9 pan Chewy Fudge Brownie mix)

1 cup chocolate chips, divided (I used Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet mega chunks)


Heat oven to 350. Blend the black beans and water in a blender. Place the dry brownie mix into a large mixing bowl. Add the black bean puree and mix completely. Add half of the chocolate chips. Spray non-stick spray on a 13 x 9 pan and pour in the brownie batter. Spread the rest of the chocolate chips on top of the batter. Bake at 350 approximately 25-30 minutes until the edges have pulled away from the pan. Be careful not to overcook. The chocolate chips on top will not be melted.

Let cool for 15-30 minutes and dig in! The warm melted chocolate is insane! I read all of the positive comments online and still had my doubts. I’m telling you. Do not doubt the black bean! My peeps had no idea until I told them. They’re BETTER than plain brownie mix brownies!

In the future, making black bean brownies from scratch with cacao powder is best. In the meantime, if you need the mental ease of a brownie mix or need to use up what you have in your house, MAKE THESE NOW!

If you are looking for a black bean brownie recipe to make from scratch, try these from Chocolate Covered Katie, with whom I am currently obsessed!

Finally, here’s a picture of my results. Yum!

2015-02-05 12.09.08

What are your healthy hacks?!

12 Ideas/Recipes for a Healthy, Yummy Superbowl!

Get Super Bowl Ready – No Guilt or Stomachaches Later!

We all know the typical Super Bowl fare. I’m getting heartburn just thinking about it!

There are other options out there!

The number one requirement for Super Bowl food is that it can be eaten easily while watching tv, right? Recipes that don’t require utensils to balance with your plate of food and beer are also helpful.

Here are some quick and easy healthy suggestions! Something on this list should strike your fancy.

spiked appetizer

  • Fruit kabobs with fruit in rainbow order.
  • Veggie kabobs in rainbow order.
  • Homemade white bean dip
  • Bread and bake strips of tofu to dip in marinara sauce.
  • Air popped popcorn with a little coconut oil spray and sea salt.
  • Healthy tostada bowls. Bake organic corn tortillas into bowls. Place beans and salsa at the bottom, warm and then top with shredded lettuce, avocado and vegan sour cream.
  • Pitchers of ice water (or seltzer) with frozen raspberries and pineapple in one and cucumber and mint in another. The frozen fruit acts as ice cubes, and either presentation looks fancy for company and helps with digestion! You can also make ice cubes into shapes, using fruit puree.

2014-06-24 18.44.22 2014-06-24 17.15.30

granola bars and chocolate chip cookies

  • Chia pudding
  • Berries and non-dairy whip (It doesn’t get easier than this!)
  • Fun with Fruit! (Could also be an activity for any bored kids) 2014-06-25 17.13.00

Have a great time!


Because you keep asking…Reboot/Juice Cleanse Final Conclusions!

Because you keep asking…Reboot/Juice Cleanse Final Conclusions!

So, what’s my final pronouncement/opinion about the Reboot with Joe, and similar juice cleanses? You keep asking, so here it is. Sorry for the delay, but I really wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed and time to think before attempting to guide others.

First, if you haven’t already read my previous posts about my own Reboot cleanse, you can read the first one here (my invitation to cleanse and a cleanse 101), my Day 1 post, and my Days 1-5 post.

Island Green Smoothie

Here’s what you need to know:

1. The concept of the Reboot cleanse is to drink only fruit and vegetable juices for 3, 5, 10 or 15 days to reboot your system and start fresh and healthy. They do recommend adding a protein powder to your juice if you’re going to reboot longer than 15 days and also have plans that combine food (again, only fruits and vegetables) with juicing.

2. Juicing takes the fiber out of fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps keep us full and regular. Many people who go on juice fasts have problems with constipation. Smoothies, which contain fiber, will fill you up more than juice. However, it still doesn’t replace the chewing function that signals our brain that we’ve eaten.

3. My experience: I tried the 15 day fast that starts out with a combination of food and juicing and culminates in only juicing. I felt fantastic the second and third days. Then I started to get dizzy from a lack of protein. I added some nuts here and there and that helped. I lost 7.5 lbs in 10 days and then didn’t really keep to the cleanse for the last 5 days (although I continued to eat well and didn’t gain any weight). I missed food! I like chewing. I like enjoying my food! I also turned most of the juices into smoothies using my Vitamix (once you’ve bought a Vitamix, you’re not going to spend money on a juicer too!). I did strain some of them into juice to make them more palatable. I’ve cleansed eating only whole foods and lost the same amount of weight in a much more balanced and enjoyable manner. In fact, I’ll probably recommend a specific cleanse to you shortly.

carrot Apple Ginger

4. Cleansing in an extreme Reboot manner can be appropriate for people who can’t trust themselves to eat only what they should if they even open up that door to chewing or eating anything other than fruits and vegetables. In addition, some people really need to give their digestion a rest. Juicing can help with this. In addition, for people who don’t like fruits and vegetables, gulping down a juice may be a helpful way for them to get those nutrients.

5. I don’t see any reason a person would need to (only) juice for more than three days. That’s a terrific reset time to get focused on eating mostly fruits and vegetables and realize how much snacking and recreational eating most of us do on a daily basis. When I realized how much food I’d be eating if I actually CHEWED the fruits and vegetables in the Reboot juices/smoothies, I realized that there was truly no reason to limit myself to juice, so I didn’t! If I want to eat well and feel better, I can do that eating mostly fruits and vegetables, with some seeds and nuts thrown in for protein and healthy fats. Of course we should all be eating this way most of the time!

Green Detox Soup

It just so happens that today’s Washington Post featured an article by nutritionist Ellie Krieger, Why Chewing is Underrated. Check it out!

6. And finally, if you have a very hard time limiting what you actually eat, you can still give your digestion a rest through intermittent fasting. Click on the link for more information about how to lose weight without restricting your diet.

If you have a cleanse or juice fasting experience to tell us about, head on over to the Healthy Family, Healthy You Facebook page and share!