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In Peru two things made me search for recipes on the Internet.
- After years of hesitating, we finally bought a Coleman Oven. Luckily we met an overlander in Cusco who taught us how to bake the perfect bread (read here).
- We ditched animal products from our diet. This was quite a rigorous decision and we were in for a long learning curve.
One thing worked in our favor: being in Peru. This is a perfect country to become a plant-based eater because it offers a wealth of fresh produce as well as a diversity of legumes to try and figure out what you like and don’t.
Before this diet switch, legumes were never on our menu. In fact, beans – a staple in Brazil – gave me a bloated stomach. I learned a simple solution: to soak them for 24 hours, or longer, until my body got used to legumes. Nowadays, soaking for 8 hours or so is good enough.
Coincidentally, around that same time we started trail running (read here). In many ways Peru was a country of change for us. To learn more about food and running, Google brought me to No Meat Athlete, a fantastic site about running and plant-based food. It details Matt Frazier’s search in becoming a marathon runner (then ultra), which he partly achieved by changing his diet. Over the years he cut meat and other animal products. It was a slow process with a fair share of pitfalls.
For a while, his sister Christine experimented in the kitchen to make tasty, nutritious vegan dishes, and that’s where I stumbled upon Black-bean Brownies.
Yes, you hear that all right: vegan brownies, made with black beans.
And you know what? It’s delicious! That’s just not our opinion. We’ve made it for numerous other overlanders, sharing it without telling its main ingredient and nobody guessed – they just loved it.
So, here it is, the recipe for you to try out and, hopefully, enjoy.
Below is the link to the original recipe, which is a bit different from how I make it.
I cut down on the sugar considerably and vary with nuts, because hazelnuts are not that common where we travel. Walnuts and almonds both work fine. I don’t use canned beans but cook dried ones. Also, I have not always been able to get the instant coffee powder (without having to buy a whole pot) or vanilla, so – as usual – I vary a bit with the ingredients as I go.
Improvising – I’d say that’s simply a part of Overland Cooking…
Ingredients for Vegan Brownies
- 1,5 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1,5 cups (raw) sugar
- 1,25 cup cocoa
- 4 tsp instant coffee powder
- 1,5 cups chopped nuts
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- 1 tsp vanilla
- about 1 cup of water
- Preheat the oven, to 350 degrees F.
- Mix all dry ingredients.
- Cook the beans (I use a pressure cooker) and puree them (here’s our hand blender).
- Mix the pureed beans, water and vanilla into the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter into a greased pan/oven dish and put it in the oven.
- It may take 25-30 minutes to bake (depending on how thick the batter is). When the brownies are finished they should be firm in the center and the edges will be slightly puffy and start to pull away from the sides.
- Take out of the oven and let the brownies cool down.