How to Eat Healthy 100% of the Time

Growing up, my dad always would say the quote, “Everything in moderation.” As a child, I pretty much surmised that this loosely translated to, “I don’t know what else to say, so I am going to say this quote.”

It wasn’t until I was much older that this quote started to really make an impression. During college, I was pretty active. I tracked all of my calories and serving sizes. I monitored each calorie in and out as much as possible. It was in the summer of 2007 that I started to realize I might have a problem. I was working as a summer camp counselor teaching sports to young children. Each week I was assigned a different camp in a different area of the state.

During one particular week, I was assigned to teach a soccer camp to four-year-olds in the morning and a tennis camp to third, fourth and fifth graders in the afternoon. I had exactly 30 minutes to make a 30 minute commute during my “lunch break.” I planned my meals carefully, so after I got home and took a shower, I logged in my calories burned during work and my calories consumed during the day. I figured this would help me plan what my dinner should be. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that according to the online software I was using, I still needed to consume 1500 calories.

1500.

I usually only allowed myself 1200 for the whole day.

I had no idea what to do. How would I even consume enough healthy foods to make 1500 calories. How much salad is that?!?

I quickly realized that I was not living in a healthy way. Food had become an enemy and that was not okay. I promptly announced to my family that it was taco night (my favorite food) and that I was baking them all a cake to eat with me. I’m sure you can only imagine my dad’s remark! Thankfully, I have come a long way since that time.

I still live by the idea that I need to eat healthy 100% of the time. Just now I realize that healthy can take many forms. And yes, that includes a sweet treat or high calorie meal now and then. Sometimes I just want some General Tsao’s Chicken and an orange soda! And brownies!

Which leads me to today…

I ate so healthy all day long! (Healthy by the standard definition of all of my fruits and veggies and proper amounts of protein and carbs). Even though the temperatures were over 100 today and very humid, I still put Cupcake in the jogging stroller and completed my 1.5 mile route.  But then, a strong chocolate craving hit. This was coupled with a discovery of an unopened box of hot cocoa that was set to expire in just a few days. So, my momming brain went to work and I created a recipe for a brownie in a mug that helped me to use up some of the mix. (I will post the recipe tomorrow! I loved it so much I ate the whole thing without thinking once about snagging a picture for you all! Sorry. I’m not sorry).

That brownie filled me with so much joy. It tasted amazing; it was warm and gooey and magical. Seriously. And I do not feel one ounce of regret because it was healthy for me! It was good for my mental health.

Now, I’m not going to start eating a brownie a day just for my mental health. That wouldn’t even be good. It would take away the allure. The brownie would just be regular. Not special. But, sometimes people get so caught up with eating “healthy” that they lose the fun in food. There is a time and a place for brownies made from beans and a time and a place for the real thing. I’ve heard people suggest eating healthy 80% of the time and not worrying about the rest. I prefer to think of it as focusing on different aspects of my health, but to each their own.

I guess my dad had it right. Everything in moderation…

What are your favorite comfort foods to feed your mental and emotional well-being? Share them in the comments below!

Black Bean Brownies 

Since we will be moving in a short time, I have been trying to clean out our pantry. I have been saving a lot of money by not buying new groceries, but I have been missing baking quite a bit! When I looked at my pantry, all I saw was rows of beans. What on EARTH am I going to do with all those beans? 

I had heard that some crazies thought of the idea of turning black beans into brownies. I don’t know what possessed the first person to try this, but I had to know for myself. 

Let me warn you, if you are looking or the most delicious brownie recipe in the world, this is not it. However, it is a decent substitute for when you’re craving brownies while also trying to eat more healthy. The secret to this recipe is to make sure your beans are rinsed well and to not short-change the chocolate chips. This will make the difference between a brownie substitute and an odd chocolate bean salad. Trust me. 

Ingredients 

15 oz can drained and rinsed very well

2 T cocoa

1/2 c oats

1/4 t salt

1/3c maple syrup

1/4c coconut or veggie oil

2 t vanilla extract 

1/2 t baking soda

1/2c chocolate chips 

Directions 

Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in food processor until smooth 

Add chips and stir

Pour batter in greased 8×8 pan

Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes 

Black Bean Brownies

Let me start off by saying I adore baking. I also love eating all the treats sharing the treats I bake! I am a strong proponent of enjoying honest to goodness sweets with not too many modifications. I am against “diet” food pumped with fake stuff. It doesn’t taste as good for me personally, and it certainly doesn’t help quell my cravings.

So, typically I make real brownies. However, my twin toddler nephews were coming for a visit and I wanted to bake something that was healthy, yummy, and made with whole foods!

The recipe requires a food processor. Mine is itty bitty, so I do it in halves, and it still takes me only about 10-15 minutes to prepare (depends on how many little hands want to get in on the action).

Ingredients:
15 oz can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/2 c quick oatmeal
1/2 c maple syrup
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
2 T cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in bowl. Add to food processor and process until completely smooth. Return to bowl
3. Add chocolate chips and mix well
4. Smooth batter into 8×8 greased pan. Bake for approx. 15 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).

For my two handsome toddlers, I premeasured all of my ingredients like we were in a cooking show. I just called them to the kitchen to dump all the ingredients together!

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Cupcake joined in, too!

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(Don’t let this picture fool you. Two seconds later, Cupcake crawled over and knocked over part of the maple syrup cup and then tried to lick the floor where it spilled. It’s cool.)

Verdict? A fudgey brownie with no bean taste! The boys ate them up quick. I can’t lie- I prefer a typical, bad for you, brownie. However, these are a great treat for little ones, those watching their weight, or those just trying to eat healthier!

Try it and let me know what you think!