Vegan and Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Blondies

My friends started having kids a few years ago. At first, during our Girlie Brunches there was no talk of babies. Then gradually as more friends had sons and daughters, the talk over waffles and bacon turned from heart-breaks and gossip to diapers and child-rearing. Last December, during my 8th Annual Xmas Brunch I barely got to talk about anything not kid related. I was annoyed.

Couple of weeks ago we had another brunch at my girlfriend's place. This time I could not stop talking about babies. 

So, today I wanted to write about food and pregnancy. I know it's not really in the style of this blog, but it's something that is close to my heart. And there's a delicious, easy, and healthy recipe as a bonus at the end.

Back in the day didn't think that eating healthy would be a problem for me if I ever got pregnant. I used to eat pretty healthy (-ish), at least that's what I thought. I liked how I felt, I liked my body, I knew exactly what clothes would fit me. Of course, I wanted to be 10 pounds smaller, but not enough to do something about it. Over the past 5-7 years my weight stayed the same, maybe 2-3 pounds more or sometimes even less, but on average it was stable. 

I didn't use pre-made foods in my cooking most of the time. On occasion I bought organic pancake or scone mix, but not those hydrogenated fat laden cake mix boxes. I cooked almost every day. I had lunch out maybe 2-3 times a month and we'd go out for dinner very rarely. Breakfast during work week was usually plain greek yogurt or small oatmeal. I had leftovers for lunch or a sandwich with some veggies on the side. Dinner was easy and fast - roast chicken, meatballs, sausages with veggies and some side. If I had heavy pasta one day, then the next would be a vegetarian meal. I didn't shy away from empty carbs like white pasta, rice or sugar, but I tried to use less of all the "bad" foods - less sugar than the recipe called for, less oil, less butter, less cheese.

These Vegan and Gluten-free Blondies are not only delicious, but also healthy. Made with dates, maple syrup, peanut butter and chickpeas

And then I got pregnant. And then the morning (I mean all day) sickness started. First I couldn't eat or drink anything. Then it turned out that I had to eat every 1.5-2 hours or I felt horrible. The foods that I was able to consume were... carbs... Not good carbs, but those bad-try-to-avoid-eat-in-moderation carbs. I ate pasta with butter, potatoes, bread, rice, and more potatoes. I could not stomach any meat, I could barely eat any fruits or vegetables. I gained 10 pounds within six weeks.

It's much better now. I can eat everything, but my body still has crazy cravings when nothing but a bagel would suffice. 

The reason for this post is because I see articles that proclaim "5 easy ways to keep your figure during pregnancy" or "10 foods to enjoy for healthy pregnancy" or many more that make me feel angry and sad. I was one of those people who thought that eating right during pregnancy would be easy - just use common sense and your normal self-control. Yet, this is not how it turned out. So, maybe this blog post would help someone. Someone who didn't expect the kind of morning sickness that leaves you empty and drained; the kind where you don't care about what you eat as long as it makes you stop hurting. It's ok. It happens. It will get better! Don't stress about food when your body and mind is already under stress. If you can eat healthy - it's great! And if not, then just know that you are not alone. 

These Vegan and Gluten-free Blondies are not only delicious, but also healthy. Made with dates, maple syrup, peanut butter and chickpeas

This recipe is me desperately trying to eat at least a tiny bit healthier. I was thinking a couple of weeks ago that if brownies can be made with black beans, then why can't blondies be made with... chickpeas! I quickly googled to make sure that I wasn't completely crazy and it turned out that people actually do it. I used a lot of maple syrup in the first version that I tried and although it was good, I felt bad using all this delicious golden goodness for baking. I buy my Dark Amber Maple Syrup at the One of a Kind Show once a year and treasure it like gold, so using half a cup in a recipe seemed preposterous. This version uses dates and maple syrup for sweetness. The first time I tried it I also used ground oats, but I found that I didn't like the after taste as much, so I omitted them in this recipe. However, my husband didn't taste the difference. So, if you'd like to boost the fiber content, then you can add 1/4 or 1/2 cup of oats to the recipe too.

The batter comes together really quickly. Drained chickpeas, peanut butter, dates, apple sauce, and maple syrup get processed until smooth in a food processor. Then chocolate chips are added and this concoction is baked for about 1.5-2 hours. Easy-peasy!

These Vegan and Gluten-free Blondies are not only delicious, but also healthy. Made with dates, maple syrup, peanut butter and chickpeas

Vegan and Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Blondies

makes 1 8x8 square pan

Chickpeas, drained - 1 cup (540 ml)
Dates, pitted - 1/2 cup (about 8)
Peanut butter - 1/2 cup
Apple sauce - 1/4 cup
Maple syrup - 1/4 cup
Baking powder - 1 1/2 teaspoons
Chocolate chips - 1/2 cup
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  • Drain the chickpeas. Save the chickpea liquid for a delicious and unusual recipe that will follow shortly.
  • Add the chickpeas and the pitted dates to the food processor and pulse until smooth.
  • Add the peanut butter, apple sauce, maple syrup, and baking powder and process until smooth.
  • Add the chocolate chips and mix in with a spatula.
  • Line a square 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
  • Pour the batter in and smooth the top.
  • Bake for about 1.5-2 hours depending on your oven. The batter is pretty liquid, so it'll take a long time to cook. Check after an hour, depending on your oven it could be cooked already. If it's still too soft and the top is starting to burn, then cover with foil.

Comments

  • These blondies are delicious, but don't expect them to taste like the ones full of butter, sugar, and flour. 
  • As mentioned earlier, you can add 1/4-1/2 cup of oats to boost fiber content and process until smooth.
  • I used regular Kraft peanut butter, and it has some sugar in it already. If you are using natural peanut butter, then you might add a bit more maple syrup or more chocolate chips.
  • My oven takes longer to bake, so I had them in the oven for more than 2 hours, but I'm pretty sure that regular oven would be done faster.
These Vegan and Gluten-free Blondies are not only delicious, but also healthy. Made with dates, maple syrup, peanut butter and chickpeas
These Vegan and Gluten-free Blondies are not only delicious, but also healthy. Made with dates, maple syrup, peanut butter and chickpeas
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Posted on June 14, 2016 and filed under Personal, Recipe, Baby.