On December 13, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to “improve” the school lunch program. Some “Real Food” enthusiasts raise questions about the fact that the school lunch program is even tied to the Agriculture Department, a point Sally Fallon made in her address, “The Politics of School Lunch” at the 2010 Weston A Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions conference, which I had to miss (but am hoping to listen to soon. Read some highlights here and here.)
I know there is plenty to critique with regard to the USDA’s dietary guidelines and to school lunches, some of which I wrote about after participating in a conference call last February with Secretary Vilsack. The USDA is big on whole grains and low-fat dairy and isn’t exactly concerned about proper preparation of beans and grains or about nutrient-dense food from sustainable farms. But when I heard Secretary Vilsack mention on NPR that he’d been to a school that was serving “high-protein” black bean brownies, a lightbulb went off.
I had just soaked and cooked a bunch of black beans, per instructions on the beautiful bean and grain chart Monica Corrado is now selling at Simply Being Well (the chart is based on Nourishing Traditions). There were more beans than I needed for dinner, and I had friends coming over, so I figured I’d try putting them to sweet use.
Last year, for my Holistic Moms chapter anniversary party, my friend Sarah used this recipe for Black Bean Brownies (from Whole Foods Market). The treats received rave reviews from everyone (well, except from Petula Dvorak in her Washington Post article about the evening). I’ve been wanting to try making them since, and now was the time.
I adapted the WFM recipe (took a few hints from recipes at Living Without magazine, Foodie Reflections blog and GoDairyFree.com) to try one batch of brownies with carob and one with cacao from Wilderness Family Naturals (and both batches with properly soaked nuts). They were both delicious in my book. Even my husband, usually a reluctant carob eater, raved about them. Then he tried the chocolate version and said, “Wow, and I thought the carob was good!”
I reduced the sugar in these recipes quite a bit and added some Grade B maple syrup plus a little coconut milk, and I used coconut oil instead of butter since I am dairy-free.
Enjoy! And tell the head of food services at your school how much better off the kids will be if the school buys dry beans and soaks them instead of using canned!
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Flourless Black Bean Brownies
1.5 cups of black beans that have been soaked in whey, vinegar or lemon juice for 18-24 hrs. and then cooked 1-1.5 hrs, then drained. Note: most recipes call for a 15-oz. can of beans. This is closer to 12 oz.
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
2 (pastured) eggs
1/3 cup sugar – Rapadura, Sucanat, date sugar, or maple sugar
1/4 cup Grade B Maple Syrup
1/4 cup coconut milk (not low-fat)
1.5 teaspoons GF vanilla
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup cacao/cocoa powder or carob
1/2 cup walnuts or another nut (or 1/2 cup shreeded raw coconut, or 1/4 of each)
optional: additional chocolate chips
Combine all ingredients and mix with a mixer or in a blender or food processor. Pour into an 8×8″ (or close) baking dish greased with coconut oil. (I used a Pyrex pie dish and got a nice round of shallow brownies). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25-40 minutes. Remove when a fork comes out clean and the top looks set.
Please check out many other posts on Real Food at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdsay’s blog carnival.
And if you have a great link to share analyzing the new federal school lunch bill, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, from a Real Food perspective, please send it along!