I cannot believe the holidays are over! The season always seems to fly by. This is one of my favorite times of year because it allows for extra moments with family & friends, relaxation, self-reflection, and a chance to reset. I also find I am busiest this time of year with errands, shopping, baking, house work, etc. I don’t know about you all, but I tend to have a lot of trouble balancing the two. Does anyone else feel this way? I never fail to generate an extensive “to-do” list around the holidays, and think I am going to feel better/accomplished/content, etc if I get it all done. I think I have developed a love-hate relationship with lists :).
I did a lot of self-reflection this year, thankfully before the holidays, to help me stop the never-ending cycle of being too busy and then feeling the season is suddenly over. Up until this year :), I would tell myself, next year I will slow down and really take the season in, or once I finish this (which is usually 10 things) I can relax. I realized thinking this way only sets me up for failure, exhaustion, and the likelihood of missing out on the people and experiences that make me love the season in the first place.
Last year I made a resolution to better my mental health instead of only my physical health. I absolutely still feel diet and exercise and crucial, but I frequently found myself making resolutions about a new workout class, eating better, etc. and neglecting my mental health. Our mind and body are closely connected, and both require an equal amount of attention and care. To kick-start my resolution last year I began writing in a journal to better sort through and process my stress, emotions, goals, etc. Through this I have learned a lot about myself and how to be a better communicator/partner/friend/daughter, etc. Having a journal has absolutely helped me become more intentional with my thoughts and actions, prevent me from feeling overwhelmed as easily, deepen my faith and improve my overall outlook on life.
I can happily say I have noticed a difference in myself this holiday season compared to last. I told myself it is OKAY if I do not get to something….most of the time no one will know but me anyways :). For example, I told myself I will let the dishes sit in the sink until tomorrow, and rather spend time with my boyfriend before he fells asleep on the couch at 8pm :). It never fails he has “assumed the position” on the couch and fallen asleep by the time I do dishes and clean up. We end up missing each other and feeling we do not have as much time together as we need. Side note – he does help around the house A LOT…not trying to paint a bad picture :). Anyways, when we put pressure on ourselves to “do it all” or fill our schedule/to-do list to the max we risk missing out on the moments that make the holiday season special in the first place. I told myself this year I will be intentional with my choices and ensure I leave time for the holiday activities I enjoy. I will take a day, or many days, to not race around, rather actually SIT (something my boyfriend says he rarely sees me do), wear my robe and comfy socks all day, make cookies with my mom, wrap presents, be with family, watch a hallmark movie(s) and RELAX. I am happy to say I did it this year :), and it felt really good. I was not perfect, and still had my “lesser” packed schedule full of “to-do list” moments, but there were fewer of them :). I can happily say my holiday season has been, and will continue to, not be defined by all the boxes I check off my to-do list, rather the quality time spent with family and friends doing the things that fill my heart.
As mentioned above, I did stay home to bake for Christmas this year, and thought I would share one of my favorite new recipes with you. I was introduced to Boars Head’s chocolate hummus over the holidays and fell in love. It is SO good. I enjoyed it with pretzels, red wine and a fire…not a bad night! The chocolate hummus got my mind thinking about other ways to create better for you chocolate desserts. You guys may have heard of, or had, chickpea/black bean brownies…I have had them and they aren’t bad, but a little starchy for my liking. I am sure there are great recipes for black bean brownies, as I have only tried a couple, but to my point this is where my idea came from (since hummus is made with chickpeas). I replaced half the butter with chocolate hummus and was very happy with the result. I made one batch on NYE with all butter, and another batch with half butter/half hummus for a New Years Day gathering at our neighbors. When comparing the two I honestly preferred the hummus version. I may actually up the hummus amount next time to make them even more fudgy, but wanted to start slow to ensure they did not have any sort of starch taste to them. I also use grass-fed butter in brownies to increase the nutritional value.
I thought a lighter brownie recipe would be a great way to start out the year, and hope you guys enjoy this. As I have said in my bio I am all about balance and moderation. I will never cut brownies out of my food circle, rather find ways to make them better for me. I wish you all an amazing year of health, happiness and peace!
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 25-30 Minutes
Total Time 60 Minutes
Servings 9 brownies
• 4 tablespoons grass-fed butter, unsalted and melted
• 1/4 cup Boars Head chocolate hummus
• 1/3 cup white sugar (or coconut sugar)
• 1/3 cup light brown sugar
• 2 eggs at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
• 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (Bobs Red Mill 1-1)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8×8 baking pan with spray and line with strip of parchment. Leave a few inches of overhang on each side to use as your handle.
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Add 1/4 cup, or 4 tablespoons of hummus, to the saucepan of butter. Whisk to combine until smooth. Your saucepan should be off the heat after melting butter. I keep it in the saucepan to cut down on bowls/dishes.
- Next whisk in granulated sugar (or coconut sugar), brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- Sift cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda together over a medium bowl. Add to the cooled saucepan/hummus mixture and fold together with a spatula.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Transfer brownie batter to prepared 8×8 baking pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. When brownies are set the batter should not giggle when you lightly shake the pan. Also, if you hit a chocolate chip your toothpick won’t come out clean :), therefore try a few spots. I baked mine closer to 25 minutes.
- Allow brownies to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Lift out via parchment handles and cool further on cooling rack. I pull my parchment out carefully from underneath the brownies at this point to allow for better air flow/cooling.
• If you cannot find the chocolate hummus you are welcome to add another 4 tablespoons of melted butter. I have not tried other fat replacements such as applesauce or yogurt.
• Dutch processed cocoa is very important in the recipe. My “science of baking” page goes into detail on the difference between the two. Unfortunately Dutch process can be hard to find. I purchase mine at Williams Sonoma. Some specialty grocery stores also carry it, or can always order off Amazon. I found this version at Kroger in the past. If you cannot find it do not worry! You can use regular cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, not baking powder. Baking soda is 3x stronger than baking powder, therefore you need less. Again you can refer to the science of baking page. Dutch processed cocoa is darker in color and feel it has rich/full chocolate flavor, but regular cocoa will absolutely work as well.
• Feel free to add more chocolate chips, coconut, etc. You can also drizzle the top with melted chocolate after baking :).