Katie Green's Food Blog: Black Bean Brownies
I can no longer hide from the truth or pretend to be something I'm not. I admit it. I'm a morning person. My internal clock refuses to let me sleep in, despite the fact that I might have stayed up late, or that I have absolutely no reason to be awake at 6am. But there I am. Me, the sunshine, and the birds. Or, at least me and the birds. There is a joke in the athletic training room that I peak at 7am. While I'd like to think my day doesn't go downhill from there, I do thrive in the morning hours. I'm one of those perky morning people that most groggy coffee drinkers despise. While research has shown that being a morning versus a night time person is pretty hardwired into us, I don't think the reason for my upbeat mornings is a secret: Sleep. A full night's worth. Many of us sacrifice or compromise on sleep for a variety of reasons (studying, work, socializing, tv, video games, social media), but more and more research is demonstrating that this can go beyond making you unpleasant in the morning. It can also take a significant toll on your health.
There are two ways sleep deprivation can affect you: 1) Your physical representation and perception of being tired, and 2) The hormonal and metabolic changes that you can't see or feel. Feeling tired is a huge de-motivator and can impact many of your decisions, from whether or not you workout to how much willpower you have to eat healthy, while putting you at a significantly increased risk for a car accident. Even after only 6 weeks of sleep deprivation (5.5 hours/night), significant metabolic changes have been shown to occur: Blood sugar increases following meals and your overall metabolic rate decreases. These can result in altered insulin secretion by the pancreas, setting up conditions for diabetes, while also leading to weight gain and eventually heart disease and stroke. A small research study even demonstrated improvements in sprint speed when collegiate basketball players at Stanford were asked to increase their sleep to 10 hours/night. In addition, recent research from UW is showing the increased influence of your genetics on your weight when you get fewer hours of sleep.
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, but that time should lie between 7 and 9 hours (If your alarm is waking you up, you're probably not getting enough). Getting sufficient sleep every night and not just trying to make it up on weekends should be a priority for both your health and your performance as an elite athlete. Don't let sleep be negotiable. However, if you're going to bed early enough but lying awake unable to sleep, consult your athletic trainer or team physician. This is a common problem with many possible causes and solutions.
But, if you have to be up late and you're looking for something to do, make some brownies. Because, once you start eating these, you won't want to stop; it's going to be a long night. As the name gives away, these do contain black beans. A lot of black beans. I even made sure when I was searching for recipes, that this was the case. They are a very fudgy brownie, and because of the beans, loaded with protein and fiber. So try not to eat too many.
Black Bean Brownies
Adapted from anorganicwife.com
· 4 cups black beans (2 - 15 oz cans)
· ½ cup melted butter
· 3 eggs
· 2 tsp vanilla
· 1/8 tsp salt
· ½ cup cocoa powder
· ½ cup sugar
· 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
· 1 tsp freshly grated orange rind
· ½ tsp cinnamon
· 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Drain and rinse the black beans (a colander works best). Pour the black beans into a blender (or food processor) and puree for about a minute. Add the melted butter and eggs and blend until completely smooth. No one wants bits of beans in their brownies.
Pour the mixture into a bowl. Add the vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon, orange zest and sugar. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts if using.
Transfer batter into an 8-inch square pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted into the center. The brownies will still be soft, but it should come out clean.
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