Impossible to Make Brownies Healthy AND Tasty?

I decided to give these healthier brownies another try to see if I could make them fudgier and reduce the sweetness a bit. This is what I did:

2/3 c. canola oil
1 c. honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cocoa
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Mix together oil and honey. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt. Mix, add cocoa, mix, and add flour. Mix well, and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. I used a greased glass baking dish (9 in. x 13 in.), and had I used a metal pan, I would have baked them at 350 degrees.

From the previous brownie experiment, I reduced the honey by 1/2 cup, used 2 eggs instead of 3, and increase the cocoa from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup in hopes of making the brownies chocolatey enough to eliminate the “need” for a chocolate topping.

After trying them while they are still warm, here is the verdict. Fudgier they are. I believe they also taste chocolatey enough. However, they are not excellent or even very good.

Maybe it is just because I have grown too accustomed to eating white-flour desserts, but I am not going to lie and say these are delicious. They are edible, though, and this time I’m not going to top them with anything. They might be kind of good over ice cream or warmed with milk on the stovetop, but this weird, rubbery-ish concoction will not be repeated.  **Edit: When I tried them later, after the initial tasting, I didn’t think they were that bad. They could just take a little getting-used-to, so if you don’t mind being a little adventurous with your taste buds, give them a try!**

It makes sense that it’s probably impossible to make healthy brownies that are truly yummy–otherwise we’d be eating them a lot more often. Still, someday I’d like to try this experiment one more time just to see if I can perfect the recipe to my taste. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Somewhat Healthier Brownies

Today my baking experiment involved brownies. I wanted to make a batch using honey and whole wheat flour instead of sugar and all-purpose flour. I used parts of two different recipes (one from a friend and this one), and the result was actually pretty good. However, they did turn out more like a chocolate cake than brownies. Next time I will make some adjustments to make them fudgier.

They didn’t have quite enough chocolate for my taste, so I added a topping of butter melted with chocolate chips, thereby reducing how nutritious they are….

Here’s how I made these brownies:

2/3 c. canola oil
1 1/2 c. honey
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. cocoa
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Mix together oil and honey. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt. Mix, add cocoa, mix, and add flour. Mix well, and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. I used a greased glass baking dish (9 in. x 13 in.), and had I used a metal pan, I would have baked them at 350 degrees. For the topping I’m guessing that I used about 2 tbsp. butter and maybe 1/2 c. chocolate chips.

I’d love to know if someone else has found a good brownie recipe without sugar and all-purpose flour. I’ll keep experimenting with this one.

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Potato Pancakes

Since I like potatoes and love most kinds of pancakes, I naturally enjoy potato pancakes, especially when I need to make some meatless food. Recently I’ve been mixing them up using leftover mashed potatoes, or in Friday’s case, leftover mashed potato “filling” (mashed potatoes baked with a beaten egg, bread chunks, and sauteed onions stirred in). I don’t think they turn out as tasty as frying the cakes using grated raw potatoes, but they are much faster. Normally I stir an egg or two into my leftover potatoes, add some flour, salt, pepper, and garlic and onion powders (adjusting for the amount already in the potatoes). For these I just added two eggs and a little whole wheat flour since I was using the potato filling. How did they turn out?

I was wondering how you make your potato pancakes? Any delicious, yet simple, recipes? More elaborate ones are welcome, too, but I don’t promise to use them….

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To Phone or Not to Phone

Help me out here. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but after listening to Devra Davis on public radio a while back, I’m concerned about the possibility that cell phones emit harmful levels of radiation.

I know, I know. There are tons of things in our environment that are probably hurting us, but using a cell phone is avoidable for many of us. In her radio interview about her new book, Disconnect, Davis claimed that using a headset while keeping the phone away from your body is a much safer way to use a mobile phone. I recently read the customer reviews for the book, and several of the one-star ratings discredit her claims. One reviewer heard that headsets can actually increase the amount of radiation to the head.

How does the average consumer know what to believe? Is Davis simply supporting a conspiracy theory? What would she have to gain by scaring people? And what if she is right? I hope she isn’t because I have had far too many long conversations with a cell phone pressed to my ear, but if she is not making this stuff up, I want to know what people can do to protect themselves. Scientists, doctors, anyone in the know, please step forward and clear this up so that we can either change our phones habits or quit worrying about it. It shouldn’t be a debate.

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Good, but It’s Ghost-written….

Perhaps this is going to turn into a blog about books I’ve read, and I’ll delete my previous posts. Since this is still in the experimental mode for me, I’m not sure what will happen with it yet.

To the topic, I’ve just completed my first Emilie Loring novel. In Times Like These (1968) was a book my sister recommended to me and one owned by my grandmother. The book was definitely more mystery than romance, which I appreciated. Not that I dislike romance, but it’s best mixed in with other genres. It is set in San Francisco and New York in the Sixties, providing a patriotic and anti-hippie eye into the culture of that time. I’m eager to try another of Loring’s novels to see if all of her works are page-turners. A Key to Many Doors will be the next, but I have a couple of books that need to be read before I get to that one.

A little check with Wikipedia told me that Emilie Loring actually passed away in 1951, well before In Times Like These was published. Apparently the novels published after her death were based on her unfinished works and ghost-written by Elinore Denniston. Interesting. I wonder how much of these books is the writing of Emilie Loring and which parts are Denniston’s. If I ever have the chance to read Loring’s earlier books, maybe I’ll be able to distinguish a difference between what Loring wrote and what Denniston wrote. However, Denniston wouldn’t be a very good ghostwriter if a difference was obvious.

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Reading Paradise

In January I read my first Martha Grimes novel: Hotel Paradise. For those of you who despise digression and vague endings, you will probably want to steer clear of this fine read. However, I happened to love Grimes’s unique style of writing that had me turning pages faster than I had in months, years maybe. I was brought back to the pleasant feeling of being lost in a story’s mystical world, one that I remember experiencing often as a child and not so much as an adult (but I have also clocked far fewer minutes reading for fun during my adulthood). The novel is narrated by a witty and imaginative twelve-year-old girl with a passion for good food (usually cooked by her mother) and satisfying her curiosity. She waitresses in her mother’s hotel but finds plenty of time to wander her surroundings, as she works her way toward the resolution of a forty-year-old mystery.

Has anyone else read this amazing story or any of the follow-up novels? Another interesting thing about this book is that I had a difficult time pinpointing its time period. What do others think?

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Are Kids These Days Different?

It wasn’t all that long that I’ve been out of college, so maybe I shouldn’t being saying “kids these days,” but still, when I’ve been in schools in the past few years, I can’t help but notice a pitiful lack of respect toward authority. Sure, some educators have a knack for commanding that respect, gaining it regardless of their audience, however, most of us would like to enjoy the basic decent treatment provided to those who are trying to help others.

I volunteer in a classroom once a week, and week after week as I’m on my way home, I ponder how the students in that room can be so utterly disinterested in school, learning, and just doing their work. On top of that, as you could guess from my previous paragraph, they do not seem to care what adults think of them. Most of them are rude to teachers and rude to each other. Why, oh, WHY? And what can be done about this?

I don’t believe that children who misbehave are very happy. And I’m not implying that all well-behaved children are in a state of complete bliss. However, happy people generally do not go around trying to displease others. They are content and strive to stay that way. But if misery does love company, unhappy people seem to be good at bringing sadness, stress, and other unhappy feelings upon others. Why are these kids unhappy? Why don’t they care what the teachers think of them? Better yet, why don’t they care what their parents think? This final question is what most bothers me.

One of the students told me that the problem in his particular class is that there are no rules. Of course, rules do exist, but perhaps they are not clearly stated or enforced. I know teachers are responsible for creating lessons that are interesting and motivating, but do they have to be entertainers, too? Shouldn’t children have to learn that they are responsible for at least some self-motivation in completing work, listening in class, and respecting adults? Some might think that teachers should simply send these students out of the classroom (to the principal, behavior room, etc.) so that the remaining students can learn. I agree, usually. But when the kids get sent out only to return time after time to do the same misbehavior, aren’t they going to eventually act up just to get out of a boring day in class?

In the end, what makes students decide they would rather act out than do their work? How much of a connection is there between a kid’s life at home and their behavior at school? From what I’ve been able to piece together about the home lives of the students I work with (I’m aware that what they tell me may not be the objective truth), I am not really surprised that they have little motivation to behave appropriately in school. Lots of their time at home is spent alone, watching TV/movies or playing video games. Yes, yes, we’ve heard this complaint before, but honestly, aren’t we settling by allowing this kind of life for our kids?

If parents have to work late and cannot be home with their children after school, it would be nice if they could somehow provide their kids (I am thinking about middle-schoolers here) with supervision by adults who can be some sort of mentor for the young person. My child isn’t in school yet, so maybe I should be waiting to weigh in on this subject until I’m sure my own child isn’t one of those I’m currently wondering about. But I’m not going to wait because I would really like to know what parents of school-aged children have to say about this. I want to know what I can be doing to make sure my own children will respect their teachers and make the most of their education. Since I am a certified teacher, I am especially interested in knowing what exactly parents believe that teachers could realistically be doing to improve the behavior of their students in their classrooms.

And what do you think? Why do these problems with respect seem different from what teachers have faced throughout history? Are kids these days different from those of past generations?

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Today’s Gifts

I was wondering today why there are moments when I’m so moved by something that I am convinced it will change my life forever, and yet, the next day I act as if that moving moment never happened. It’s much like making big New Year’s resolutions that seem so important in January and are practically forgotten by the end of February. After reading about a man who lost his wife and unborn daughter in a car accident, what I was thinking about in particular was how I don’t want to take my family for granted. I don’t want to let my annoyances over the silly, insignificant things to take priority over appreciating what I have. Yesterday I was so sure of this (and I still am), but this morning I found myself falling back into my same old snippiness with my husband when something didn’t go quite as I wanted it to. This Lent I want to work on being patient with others and myself. And I clearly need daily reminders of this.

A couple of years ago I heard a suggestion to, at the end of each day, think of at least five “gifts” received from God that day. I interpreted that as recalling five things I’m thankful for every day. Over the years I’ve done this less and less, but every time I do remember to think about what I’m grateful for, I’m surprised by how easy it is–by how many good things are a part of daily life. And I find it interesting that after a relatively bad day, I can see how what I thought was bad, with a different perspective, could be seen as a lesson, as a gift.

So before I go to sleep, I’m going to try to listing at least five things I’m thankful for and hope that this will serve as my daily reminder to appreciate what I have, and perhaps I’ll soon be able to think of those gifts right away in the morning and set aside my usual ingratitudes.

How different would the world be if we could somehow remember to focus more on what we appreciate about our lives than what we want changed? Have any of you out there been successful with this?

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Practice Makes Perfect

I want to become a better writer, and I wonder if maybe this will help me improve by providing a home for practicing my writing bits. Sometimes I’ll post quick reflections. Sometimes I’ll take more time transferring my thoughts to print. I don’t promise the material will always interest you, but since somehow it will be important in my life, I appreciate your reading and commenting.

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