Thursday, April 5, 2012

Whole Foods - Whole Flops!

For health reasons, I've been trying a new whole foods, low-gluten diet the past several weeks.  I've read a lot about substitutions and healthier options, and I've felt inspired to try out some things.  Sometimes I have success in my new endeavor, but more often than not, I learn what NOT to do.  

My first attempt was rice milk.  An inexpensive alternative to paying $3.50 or more for a gallon of cow's milk greatly appealed to my food budget, so I pulled out my little 8-year-old, inexpensive blender and set to work.

We've made the switch to eating all brown rice, and since it's supposed to have superior nutrition in addition to being high in fiber, I chose the brown rice over the white for this experiment (a mistake for someone without a high-powered blender, to be sure).

You can see in the photo how all the little rice pieces settled to the bottom of the blender, leaving a thin, milky-white watery substance at the top.  This stuff tasted even worse than it looks, and not even the sweetest of smoothies could cover up it's obnoxious flavor!

Whole foods: 1.  Me:  0.

My first flop behind me, I was eager to try something else. 

I came across this recipe for black bean brownies (I skipped the first paragraph of the post and moved right on to the recipe below).  I was intrigued, so I cooked up some black beans, tossed them into the blender per the recipe instructions, and went about trying this rather odd recipe.  The reviews raved about it, so even though at first I was skeptical, by the time I pulled these from the oven, I had developed high expectations.

My biggest worry was that the consistency would not be right for brownies - I mean, isn't the gooey, almost-cooked-but-not-quite-done goodness the best part of brownies??  When I cut into these and discovered that, amazingly, they seemed to be extremely brownie-like, I was thrilled.

Until I tasted them.

I do admit that I probably used WAY too much spinach (I think I remember accidentally dumping in close to double what the recipe called for), but I don't think even using half the spinach that I did would make up for the bitter, green taste of this...stuff.  I don't even know what to call it, since "brownie" doesn't come close to describing the odd flavor.

We tried again, this time using Food Network's black bean brownie recipe.  These were much more palatable (though I exchanged the oil for butter - yum!), but even these, without spinach and a very small amount of black beans, didn't cut it for us. 

My conclusion?  Black beans don't belong in brownies.  Eat black bean burritos for dinner and indulge in a regular brownie.  If you're concerned about health, eat a smaller portion of chocolately goodness, because a "healthy" brownie leaves a LOT to be desired.

Despite these first two setbacks, we persevered in trying to include more whole foods in our diet.  The easiest way we've found to do this is to drink smoothies for breakfast.  We found a decent recipe:

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I make my own in the crockpot, which saves a ton of $$)
1/2 cup milk (or to taste - we like a thinner consistency and add a little more)
1 banana
1 cup (give or take) any fruit of your liking (we use frozen strawberries or frozen raspberries)
1 T ground flax

Blend it up, and you're done!  

This was working really well for us.

Until the frozen strawberries flying around in the blender cracked the plastic carafe. 

And delicious strawberrie smoothie goodness ran down all over the base of the machine and shorted out the motor.


We ended up investing in a bare-bones VitaMix blender, and we're very happy with it.  So happy, in fact, that I might - just might - be willing to try making rice milk again.



  1. I love hearing your stories! I tried low carb brownies made with soy flour once. ONCE, they were horrible!

    1. So glad to hear it wasn't just me who couldn't get "healthy" brownies to work!!