Red Velvet Protein Brownies


It’s been a while since I’ve written a post with more depth than just a recipe. Today is the first time in about 3 weeks where I feel like I actually have the mental capacity to do that, and it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about two things that I haven’t done so well these past few weeks: managing stress and maintaining focus. AND, I have a new dessert recipe that is just the bomb. I got some new protein powder this week, caught the baking bug last night, and it resulted in delicious, decadent red velvet protein brownies. YUM.

March Madness (Not the Fun Kind)

A little recap of the month of March for me: my life has been full of SXSW, a funeral, no rest on the weekends (because I’ve been busy doing what I love: cooking for people), and a work project I’ve been churning on since August that is finally coming to fruition. Essentially, it’s been go-go-go at 100 miles per hour for the last three weeks. Top that off with a few big decisions that I need to make in the next couple of weeks and major life events that are coming up this year (PS: I’m gonna be an AUNT this September!), and I’ve lost focus on two of my biggest priorities/passions: coming up with fun, healthy, new recipes to write about and giving 110% in the gym. My emotional state has been a little off this month, and I know it’s because I haven’t been mentally OR physically available to spend time doing what I love. In short, it’s time to refocus.

Sure, I’ve been keeping up with my daily workouts and haven’t dropped the ball on cooking — in fact, I’m doing MORE than I ever have before — but since my mind is elsewhere, I don’t feel like I’m able to enjoy it as much. I haven’t quit on myself by any means, but I’ve felt like I’m just going through the motions. I find myself more irritable during the week, less focused during my workouts (and I’m wearing a giant scrape with a nasty bruise on my left shin as a result of my mind wandering during box jumps — oops), and it’s been much harder for me to fall asleep every night. All of this because my stress levels are a bit higher than normal.

More Stress, Less Muscle?

Some science-y stuff that I learned from Train magazine this week: cortisol (the hormone that your body releases when under stress) can actually hinder your body from absorbing protein, making it harder to build muscle. Additionally, it can cause fatigue, a lack of concentration, and slower recovery from injury; all things that I’ve been experiencing first-hand throughout the last few weeks. BAD NEWS BEARS, people. I don’t want any part of that, so after doing some introspective thinking yesterday, I decided to do a couple of the things that calm, center, and refocus me: looking back on my progress and baking things.

Looking back at my progress reminds me of my “why.” The me of today is a completely different person from me year and a half ago, both inside and out. Back then, I was passive. I didn’t take ownership of my own decisions, I had no confidence, and I hid behind food and alcohol. I didn’t really know how to put myself to good use. There was no focus, and I ignored stress through binge eating and drinking too much on a regular basis. The end result? An overweight, despondent girl who didn’t know (or care about) her purpose. The last 15 months have brought light to what I DO care about, what makes me happy, and what I can do to feel fulfilled every single day: cooking healthily, working out, and motivating other people to improve their health. Recognizing all of this and thinking about where I started brings my focus back to what matters most.

Being in the kitchen — whether it’s making healthy chicken enchiladas or baking some brownies with protein powder — brings me this inexplicable feeling of purpose and calmness. So, last night, I cut my post-boot camp weight session in half, went back to my apartment, and fired up the oven. I haven’t had the time to let my creativity drive what I cook in the last few weeks, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until last night. The joy that I find in throwing a bunch of random stuff together without following another person’s recipe is one of my top 5 my favorite things on earth, and it usually results in badass treats, like these brownies. I had 2 last night with a little extra cream cheese and a giant glob of Cool Whip on top and bypassed my usual Arctic Zero/Oreo dessert. Wise, wise move.

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Needless to say, I’m back to my happy, well-rested, less-overwhelmed self today. Nothing a good night’s sleep and a protein brownie can’t fix, apparently. :o)

Red Velvet Protein Brownies

These are a little less sweet and not overly rich, making them perfect for a nightly treat to satisfy that nagging sweet tooth without sabotaging your fitness goals.

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Nutritional Overview (per brownie):

Calories: 82
Fat: 3.6
Carbs: 8.9
Protein: 5

Serves: 16 brownies
Cook time: 25 minutes (5 active, 20 baking)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • 2 scoops (60g) Cellucor Red Velvet protein powder
  • 2 tbsp Love Bean Superfood Fudge Spread (found at Whole Foods and made in Austin — Nutella is a good sub if you can’t find this one)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 oz Neufchatel cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup Stevia
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp sweet cream butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
  • Red food coloring

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray
  2. Drain and rinse your chickpeas, then place in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the beans are finely processed (it’s not a big deal if there are a few small chunks)
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to your blender or food processor and blend until combined. You should end up with a brownie batter-ish consistency
  4. Pour batter into your prepared baking dish and bake for 20-22 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean)
  5. Top with Cool Whip, cream cheese mixed with a little bit of Stevia, or nothing at all. Any way you choose to eat these will result in an instant taste bud party.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Red Velvet Protein Brownies”

  1. Do you think you could replicate this same recipe with chocolate protein powder instead and it come out just as good? I’m want to try this out but just bought some chocolate protein powder!!

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