Black Bean Brownies

We're currently in the midst of a busy summer working (we also work as English teachers) and  come mid-morning we find we're in need of a snack that's both energising and delicious. These brownies have been the perfect choice recently and keep us going until the early afternoon. If you've read any of our blog before, you'll know that cacao is one of our favourite ingredients, and we love the rich flavour that both the cacao powder and cacao butter bring to the brownies. 

If the idea of black beans in a brownie seems weird to you, please don't worry! Whenever we share these brownies with people they have no idea that they're made from beans. Also, we promise this is what gives them their incredible gooey texture and makes them so satisfying due to the high amount of protein and fibre they contain. We hope you enjoy them! 

Black Bean Brownies
Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients
1.5 cups of cooked black beans
1/2 cup of spelt flour
1/3 cup of local honey (or sub with maple syrup)
3/4 cup of raw cacao powder
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1/4 cup of melted cacao butter (you could sub with more coconut oil)
1/2 teaspoon of good quality salt
1/3 cup of oat milk (or any other nut milk)
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of walnut pieces

Method
1. Pre-heat your oven to 190 celsius (gas mark 5) and line a small square baking tray with baking paper. Our tray is 8" by 8". 
2. To a food processor, add the beans, flour, cacao powder, salt & baking powder. Blend until well combined. 
3.. Add the remaining ingredients (except the nuts) and blend again until smooth. 
4.. Stir in the nuts. Spread evenly on your baking tray. 
5.  Bake for 18-20 minutes. Using the baking paper, lift the brownies out of the tray and allow to cool on a rack before cutting into squares. Enjoy! Store in an air tight container. 

VEGAN BLACK BEAN BROWNIES

Have you ever tried beans in brownies? We'd love to hear your thoughts! 

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Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds

We're back with another fermented recipe ... this time, it's our favourite sauerkraut recipe - made with purple cabbage and infused with fennel seeds. We love eating this with just about anything, it's such a delicious addition to a meal. You can make this recipe with green cabbage too, but we love the vibrant colour of red cabbage & the fact that it's more nutritionally dense. In fact, we recently read that purple cabbage actually has more vitamin C than oranges, as well as so many antioxidants that are healing for the body. 

Eating sauerkraut regularly has really transformed my digestion over the past couple of years. During a difficult patch of stomach issues a few years ago, I dove deep into so many nutrition and holistic health books/podcasts to try and find a cure. Once I started to uncover how much our digestion is linked to our entire system, I became so determined to heal my gut and find balance again. It's pretty fascinating that our gut bacteria is so related to our brain function, immune system, happiness and so much more.

Food can be such a powerful medicine if we look at the source of illness instead of trying to suppress the symptoms. Alongside avoiding stress, one of the most important ways to strengthen our digestion is to feed our guts with friendly bacteria. Making your own fermented foods at home is such an affordable and tasty way of doing this. Especially as it's been shown to be more beneficial if the sauerkraut has been made and fermented in your local area. This is due to the relationship between the bacteria in your environment and the original bacteria in your gut. If you buy a sauerkraut that has been produced far from where you live, you may not receive the full benefits. For more fermented recipes, click here!

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Vegetable to salt ratio - the magic formula for ferments
After a lot of experimenting, we've reached a good understanding of the salt/vegetable ratio for pickles and ferments. As a general rule of thumb, we always weigh our vegetables, then add 1.75% of this weight in salt. For example, 1kg of cabbage will need roughly 17.5g of salt. 500g of cabbage will need roughly 8.75g of salt. For reference, 1 teaspoon of salt is 5.7g. 

To make 1 large jar you'll need:
1 large jar, sterilised with boiling water
1 large red cabbage, sliced finely
1.75% weight ratio of good quality salt (see above)
6 whole peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Method

1. Before you chop your cabbage, peel away 1-2 of good quality outer leaves and put to one side for use later.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so that the salt is thoroughly mixed with the cabbage. If you have time, leave it for 15-30 minutes - this will help draw the moisture out of the cabbage. 
3. With clean hands (or with gloves if you don't want purple stained fingers!) begin to mix and massage the cabbage. Continue for around 5-10 minutes, until liquid squeezes out of the cabbage. This purple liquid will help the fermentation process.
4.Add all the ingredients to your sterilised jar, pushing down as you go so that no air is trapped in the bottom of the jar. Keep pushing down as you add more cabbage (the back of a wooden spoon is helpful for this). The idea is to pack everything really tightly into the jar. 
5. Once you've added all the cabbage to the jar, continue to push it down until the cabbage is submerged in some of its liquid. If your sauerkraut seems dry, leaving the jar for an hour or so between pressing down can allow more of the liquid to release. 
6. Fold the cabbage leaves you set aside at the beginning to form a 'lid' that will fit in your jar. Place this on top of the sauerkraut and again, push the ingredients down with the back of the wooden spoon. Add a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in liquid. We use a small glass with some weights inside. Cover the jar with a fine cheesecloth. 
4.Now it's time to let the cabbage ferment! Around 7 days is the perfect amount of time. If you live in a very hot climate then you may need less time. Everyday, check on your jar and firmly push down the sauerkraut with the back of a wooden spoon. You should see air bubbles rise from the bottom of the jar. The cabbage should remain submerged in liquid.
5. After around 5-7 days, taste the sauerkraut to see if it suits your taste buds. 
6.Once your satisfied with your flavour, secure the jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge. It's now ready to be eaten and shared and should last for months if sealed well. The flavour generally improves after the sauerkraut has been in the fridge for a few days. 

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Have you ever fermented anything at home? We'd love to hear your experiences! 

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Favourite Books

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We're both huge book lovers...forever students. There is so much wisdom out there to be uncovered.  This is a list of thought-shifting, eye-opening, inspiring books that have influenced us :

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HEALTH/NUTRITION
How Not to Die by Dr Michael Greger
Healing Wise - The Wise Woman Herbal by Susan Weed
The Yoga of Herbs by David Frawley
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss
The Transformational Power of Fasting by Stephen Harold Buhner
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide by Rosemary Gladstar
The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates

SPIRITUALITY  & LIFE LESSONS
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Invincible Living by Guru Jagat
Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Science and Spiritual Practices by Rupert Sheldrake
The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake
Active Hope by Joanna Macy

PLANT MEDICINE & INDIGENOUS TEACHINGS
Food Of The Gods by Terrence Mckenna
The Cosmic Serpent: DNA & the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Intuitive Herbalism: Honouring our Indigenous Plants by Nathaniel Hughes
The Wizard of the Upper Amazon by Bruce Lamb  

ESSENTIAL READS FOR WOMEN
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estรฉs
Love your Lady Landscape by Lisa Lister
Woman Code by Alissa Vitti
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie
We should all be Feminists  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 


INSPIRING STORIES & FICTION
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London
Rumi Selected Poetry
As I Walked Out One Midsummer's Morning by Laurie Lee
The Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

What are your favourite books? We would love to hear your recommendations! 

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