A Secret Ingredient Rarely Guessed – Kansan
Amish cook Columnist Gloria Yoder
Who likes healthy or gluten-free dishes? For years I was a little skeptical when biting into a new dish with the title “healthy”. While I was intrigued by the idea of it being healthy, it was that thing of expecting it to be a good notch lower than regular baked goods. You know how these gluten-free bars tend to be crumbly, not to mention zero sugar in them – not at all.
In an attempt to be kind to my body, I avoided indulging too much in sweet dishes. I experimented with natural sweeteners like stevia. We tried whole wheat flours, but my cookies still weren’t ideal. I gulped when I put a plate of brown-tinted cookies in front of my cookie-loving husband. I backed off when my bars fell apart as I handed them to our kids. Sigh. I wanted to be a good mother, I wanted to give my family healthy and tasty cookies, but it seemed that I would be shorter than otherwise. Ah, my dear husband, no, he would never complain. Yet, without him telling me, I knew how much he loved soft cookies with lots of frosting. Again he assured me that he really didn’t want me to use too much sugar or white flour for our growing family.
Even when we found recipes we enjoy as a family, I was a little wary of passing them on to you all. You know, what if that sounds like another dry, less-than-tasty affair. Then one day I received a kind letter from a reader in Inverness, Florida asking me why we use so much sugar.
I was like, okay, I have to be more specific about what we personally use for sweeteners. That’s the deal: the recipes I send you are the ones most people in our community use, then when I make them for our family, I switch to natural sweeteners such as stevia and our newest favorite, xylitol of birch. A doctor, who works with a number of Daniel’s family members, explained that birch xylitol offers many health benefits while sweetening any dish. As with many other baked goods, we buy it in bulk to get it at a better price. Besides, just like chocolate, do not give your dog birch xylitol, because his stomach is not made for it and could make him sick!
Julia, who loves to cook, got tired of always having to substitute so many items in one recipe. At her request, I bought a new cookbook (Thanks to a reader who sent me money to buy me something!)
This cookbook, Amazingly Simple, by Ruth Shirk, is the one she saw at my mother’s house. She said this would be just what she needed to make more baking for our family. True to her word, since the first day we got her, she’s used her more times than I could count! Seven-year-old Austin is on his heels, constantly wanting to bake cookies or bars. The color photos show them what the final product will look like.
And now, from a mother’s perspective, you know what it’s like to see your child struggling with physical or emotional needs. After years of trying and knowing something was wrong, we finally decided that as a family we were going to change our diet. For now, we’re cutting out sugar, dairy, gluten, eggs (we use our quail eggs because they’re easier to digest) and other things that tend to cause food allergies. The results have been worth the effort time and time again. I thank God, it is He who has heard all the calls day and night, for our little ones! There have been times when God has miraculously provided healing for the moment. We praise it for that, along with natural foods to nourish our bodies. He hears our cries even though dark times tend to last much longer than we often would. Keep looking up – every rainbow is the result of rain!
As you can hear, we have found some recipes that we really like, always with the name “healthy”.
Here is our all-time favorite. My cousin Regina, who does missionary work in Bolivia, shared it with us. We have done many full pots since then. We actually mix the dry ingredients, like 12-24 batches at a time, then I keep the mix in my canister and use it as a brownie mix. With our family size, I always make more than one batch at a time. We have this giant saucepan that Daniel’s parents gave us that contains four batches. That’s enough to last more than a day, giving me a break!
If you serve these brownies to your guests, they’ll never guess the beans are the secret ingredient.
Healthy Fudge Brownies
2 cups black beans, cooked and drained
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey or xylitol
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 ⁄2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon of stevia powder
1 tablespoon of instant coffee
Blend the eggs in a blender until frothy, add the cooked beans (hot or cold), then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a greased 9 by 9 inch pan. If desired, sprinkle with a handful of chocolate chips or chopped nuts of your choice. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
It is eaten hot out of the oven with fresh milk or ice cream. Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen. — Gloria Yoder is an Amish wife and mother of six
— Gloria Yoder is an Amish wife and mother of six from Flat Rock, Illinois. More can be found at www.amish365.com.