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Recently a patron asked if I could make some date-sweetened brownies.

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A what? A patron? What's this? A patron is someone who supports me financially on Patreon by paying as little as $1 per post. In return, patrons can ask questions for me to answer on this blog, suggest topic ideas, request recipes, and more. But why would a blogger need financial support? Good question. Let me break down my answer into three parts.

1. ALL WRITERS NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT. Writing is one of the least lucrative endeavors you could possibly imagine. Yes, there are a handful of bestselling authors out there making huge bank, but for the most part WRITERS MAKE NO MONEY. What's worse is that writers are constantly being asked to write for extremely low or sometimes no pay. Imagine if our doctors were constantly asked to perform surgeries for free. Imagine if our teachers were asked to teach their classes simply "for the experience." Imagine if we went to a restaurant, ordered a five-course meal, and then explained to the chef that our budget is really low so we can't possibly pay for the meal, but we're happy to take a picture of the food and post it online to give "free publicity." This is what daily life is like for writers. I have worked as a freelance writer for about a decade and have been widely published during that time. You would be SHOCKED to know how little some of the places I've written for have paid me. I cannot emphasize enough how small a writing income is (despite the fact that I'm writing every single day). 

2. LIFESTYLE BLOGGERS NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT. If you scroll through this blog, you'll notice that I make a lot of food recipes and also a lot of DIY beauty and cleaning products. The ingredients for all of these recipes and products come from my own pocket. I do not receive any endorsements. I do not have advertisements on my page. I would love to keep my blog as ad-free as possible so everyone who comes here can see my content without being pushed to buy something. 

3. CREATIVE PEOPLE NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT. I can not emphasize enough how much of a one-woman show this operation is. I want to share what I've learned about fitness and nutrition. I want to provide you with information about everything from clean eating to half marathon training to resources for beauty products with less toxins. I want to share the ups and downs of my journey as I try to be healthy in this world. I want to make you feel good. I want to make you feel empowered. I want for this to be a place where you can consistently check in for the latest on my life and learnings. I treat this blog like it's my job even though I also have several other "real" jobs to do. There are times when I prioritize this blog even when it means turning down a paying assignment, because this blog is the place I come to be myself, share myself, and write about the topics I'm most interested in — not the topics I'm paid to write. I've been in so many situations as a freelance writer where I've had to write about topics that didn't inspire me. This blog is where I come to write about the things I am most passionate about. I think that passion shows. I know I can always tell when someone cares about her work. I care about my work. If that's something you value, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

Special challenge! If I get five new patrons on Patreon by July 1st, I am going to start doing ONE special Patreon post per week that ONLY my patrons can access and I will only charge patrons for that ONE post. That means that if you agree to pay me $1 per post, you will only be paying $4 per month. $4 per month! That's IT. $4 a month to see all my recipes, tips, musings and more — plus one special patrons-only post every week that will address the topics my patrons specifically request.

If you're convinced this is the greatest idea ever — trust me, it is! — please go to patreon.com/kristenforbes to sign up as a patron. Thank you!

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So, what about those date-sweetened brownies? 

Ah yes, the date brownies. So a patron asked if I could make a batch of date-sweetened brownies. "Sure!" I said before immediately getting into a situation that prevented me from being able to work on it for a few weeks (more on that in a later post). But never fear, today the day finally came when I could devote myself entirely to an afternoon of brownie experimentation.

The delayed timing of this turned out to be perfect because for the last few weeks, my husband and I have been discussing the idea of using our nutrition knowledge to create our own recipes to present on this blog, with the hopes of amassing enough to someday make a complete cookbook. We're excited about this venture because until now, all the recipes I've shared on this blog have either been someone else's recipe or a slightly tweaked version of someone else's recipe. My husband and I finally feel like we have the confidence in the kitchen to create our own recipes. So that's what we're going to do: create from-scratch recipes that reflect our desire to combine optimal nutrition and delicious flavors. We want to create real, clean food using fresh, whole ingredients — the kind of food that will make you feel amazing after you consume it. We also want to create food that tastes good, period. Those are our goals.

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Perhaps what's most exciting about this project is that my husband and I are merging our very different food backgrounds to give you a variety of options when making our dishes. I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years and am to the point now where my diet contains very little dairy or eggs. My husband is a carnivore from Belgium who loves fine food, good beer, and bold flavors. We have been cooking meals together for the last few years and you can often find a little bit of both our personalities in the dishes we choose. 

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So today we're presenting our first recipe from Krike's Kitchen (Kristen + Mike = Krike): oohey gooey brownies. I knew I wanted to make date-sweetened brownies, but I also wanted to see how else I could "healthify" a brownie recipe. I looked at black bean brownie recipes. I looked at avocado brownie recipes. I looked at date-sweetened brownie recipes. Ultimately, I decided to make a combination of all three.

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These brownies are about as clean and natural as you can get. No sugar, no oil, no flour, no butter. The sweetness comes from dates and a hint of maple syrup and vanilla. The creaminess comes from avocado and black beans. The intense chocolate flavor comes from unsweetened cocoa powder. This is a brownie you can feel good about eating. 

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I am a huge fan of keeping ingredients plant-based, especially when it comes to baking. I rarely use eggs or butter because I just don't feel like they're necessary to create delicious flavors. Mike will be contributing some meaty dishes in the future, so I think you'll find there's something for everyone in our recipe selections. 

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I had so much fun making these brownies because I was truly experimenting. I had no expectations of the outcome. I've learned to adapt to different scenarios in the kitchen, so I now have a much better idea of how to fix problems that arise. There are a few ingredients I added in the end that I wasn't originally planning to put in the recipe. Once I added them, it made all the difference. 

So how do you make these oohey gooey brownies? I'm so glad you asked. Without further ado, I present to you our inaugural From Krike's Kitchen recipe.

FROM KRIKE'S KITCHEN: CHEAP DATE BROWNIES
INGREDIENTS:
For the crust:
1 1/2 c pitted dates
2 c walnuts
For the brownies:
1 15 oz. can BPA-free black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c cashews
1 c pitted dates
1/2 avocado
1 pinch sea salt
2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c milk of choice (I used an almond/coconut blend)
1 T maple syrup
DIRECTIONS: 
First, make the crust. (Why do these brownies have a crust? The brownies themselves are delicious but so oohey gooey, so the crust gives them a solid base.)
Combine dates and walnuts in a high-powered food processor. Blend well. Use a spatula to blend crust into a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pop in the fridge while making the brownies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put all brownie ingredients in high-powered food processor. Blend well. Batter will be thick and creamy.
Pour batter over crust and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let fully cool and then refrigerate for at least an hour. This helps the brownies firm up. Even at their firmest, they will still be a little oohey gooey. Be prepared to get a little messy as you enjoy these amazing morsels.
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Done and yum!

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