Gluten-Free Gooey Double Chocolate Brownies

Gluten-Free brownies anyone?! Yes, you can have desert and still not break the calorie bank. I am not the type of person that likes to diet, but I do like to watch how much and what I eat. I will admit I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I am always looking for creative low carb snacks to munch on. In particular, I love chocolate and I wanted to find a snack that I could eat without feeling guilty, or feeling like I had to jump on the treadmill right away. After a search on the Internet, I took notice that there are a million ways to make bake goods without using butter, flour, or sugar. I heard about gluten-free foods, and when I tried it at a well-known gluten-free restaurant I was not impressed. I decided to go into my own kitchen to experiment with different recipes to see if I could add my own flavor to gluten-free dishes. I will say going completely gluten-free was short lived; however, there is one recipe that I still use to this day. After experimenting to create the perfect snack, I came up with a gluten-free brownie recipe. Eating healthy is not about following someone else’s dieting guide to the “T”, but figuring out what works best for you. With that said, I would like to share one of my favorite go to gluten-free snacks that is very simple to make, and taste great!

Gluten-Free Gooey Double Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients
3 eggs

2 ripe bananas (mashed)

2 cups of almond butter

2 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk

1 cup of raw honey

1 teaspoon of coconut oil, or butter softened

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ teaspoon of salt

½ cup of dark cocoa powder

¼ cup of dark chocolate chips

Yields: 6-8 people

Total Cook Time: 35 minutes

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix the banana, almond butter, almond milk, vanilla extract, egg, salt, baking soda, and honey together.

Once the mix is smooth, then slowly add the cocoa powder and dark chocolate chip cookies.

Grease a 13×9 inch pan with coconut oil (if you don’t have coconut oil, then use olive oil or margarine).

Pour the batter into the greased pan, and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. If you are unsure of when it is done, place fork in the center to see if it is flaky. If the brownie dish is flaky, then it can be removed from the oven.

Let it cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Try serving this delicious dish with vanilla ice cream, or gelato.

Enjoy!

Spicy Couscous with Chicken and Shrimp

I absolutely love to play with my food to make a new dish! I am not a fan of eating the same dish day in and day out. Eating healthy is very important to me, but it is also important that the food is full of flavor! When thinking about eating healthy some may assume that means tasteless food, and that is so far from the truth! This weekend, as I was rummaging through my kitchen, I ended up cooking the perfect dish. It was easy to make, and provided me with proteins, grains, and vegetables all in one dish!

Spicy Couscous with Chicken and Shrimp

2 cups of cooked couscous

1 cup of chicken stock

1 cup of green peas (fresh, canned, or frozen)

1 fresh tomato, diced

1 fresh lime

5 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of chill powder

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

2 tablespoons of parsley

1 pound of deveined shrimp

1 pound of diced chicken breast

Yields: 4 Servings

Total Cook Time: 45 minutes

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the diced tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper, and a drizzle olive oil on top. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a little brown. Later, we will add the tomatoes to the couscous.

In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the 2 cups of couscous and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of water. Let it cook until the couscous is tender, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Fluff the couscous with a fork.

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the tomato paste, salt, pepper, chill powder, dried Italian herbs, and garlic powder. Allow this seasoning mixture to cook for about 60 seconds. Add mixture to the couscous. Once spread evenly throughout add the diced tomatoes and peas.

Before starting this next step, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the shrimp and chicken, lime, salt, pepper, and parsley together. In a skillet, heat 2 teaspoon of olive oil. Toss the shrimp and chicken in the skillet, and let cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from the skillet.

Toss in the shrimp and chicken in with the couscous, and bake the dish in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Remove and garnish with additional parsley, and serve immediately.

Hot Spot Restaurant in Old Town Alexandria: Hank’s Oyster Bar

If you are an oyster lover like me, then Hank’s Oyster Bar is the place to go if you live, or if you are just visiting the Northern Virginia area. I came across this place after a spa appointment while I was exploring the local neighborhood.  This restaurant favorite is nestled in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. It is surrounded by tons of cute shops that range from selling furniture, paintings, antiques, or clothing.  Once you walk in to Hank’s Oyster Bar there is always someone to greet you at the door. Don’t be surprise that on a Friday or Saturday night it can get pretty busy. Usually if there is a wait, then you can grab a drink at the bar. They have a wide range of drink selections, and the drinks are reasonably priced.
While walking to your seat you will notice the different chalkboards displayed on the walls, which list the oysters that are on the menu for the day. The oysters are brought in fresh daily. Once you are seated, the waiter will bring you a small bowl of goldfish crackers for you to munch on while you decide on your dish. I think the goldfish crackers are such a nice touch, because it brings me back to my childhood days of having this as a snack. Beyond the nice selection of oysters, they offer a variety of other dishes if you are not an oyster lover, or you want to add to your meal. One of my favorite dishes is the lobster roll with old bay seasoned fries!

Ordering oysters is not intuitive for everyone! If you are beginner at eating oysters, then no worries the waiters are very knowledgeable, and will walk you through each selection. I have definitely been to some restaurants where the waiter has no clue, and is not very helpful…this is not the case at Hank’s. Before ordering the waiter will walk you through each option, and give you a good descriptor of each choice. For example, “Sweet” — When the oyster is somewhat mild and sweet instead of too salty versus “Copper” — When oysters have a very strong, acidic or rusty flavor. No worries if you can’t decide what to go with, then you can order a mixed platter to sample each one. I usually order a mix, and once I figure out my favorites, then I will go back and order more.

Once they bring out your oyster platter, it will come with lemons, horseradish, malt vinegar, and cocktail sauce. If you want to add a little extra kick, then ask for the tabasco sauce! I love to make a mix out of all the ingredients, and sprinkle a touch on top of the oyster. You want to avoid putting too much ingredients on the oyster, because it will overpower the actual flavor of the oyster. In my opinion, the sauces are there to give a little extra boost!

Check please! I love that once they bring the check they also bring you sweet treats. The waiter will bring out a bowl of dark rich chocolate. Beyond dark chocolate being good for both your heart and stress levels it is definitely a nice touch to end your meal at Hank’s Oysters Bar! To check out more about this restaurant visit Hank’s Oyster Bar