Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting

These Coconut Zucchini Brownies are rich, decadent, and sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. And the best part is, no one will realize they’re healthy!

Well, healthy-ish. 

Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Made with smooth coconut butter and loaded with two cups of zucchini, these brownies offer some antioxidant punch from the cacao powder and dark chocolate, and they're simply sweetened with pure maple syrup.

Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting

I'm topping these fudgy brownies with a luscious, dark chocolate frosting. It's a cinch to whip up and the rich, creaminess is thanks to avocado!

Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting

If you have food sensitivities, these brownies may still fit the bill as they're gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. And even if you don't have any dietary restrictions, please give them a try. I promise, you won't taste the vegetables!

Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Ingredients:
Brownies:

  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 cup coconut butter, homemade or store bought
  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (I chop up a dark chocolate bar, such as Alter Eco's Dark Blackout)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Frosting:

  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line an 8x8 glass baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, mix ground flax seed and water together to make a flax egg. Set aside to thicken.
  4. To a food processor fitted with the S-blade, add coconut butter, zucchini, maple syrup, cocoa powder, chocolate chunks, vanilla extract, and baking powder. Add thickened flax egg.
  5. Process on high speed until all ingredients come together to form a smooth batter, about 1–2 minutes.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes, then cool before refrigerating to set completely.
  8. For the frosting, add the avocado, cacao, maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt to a food processor fitted with the S-blade, and process on high speed until all the ingredients have come together and the consistency is smooth and creamy.
  9. Spread a generous amount of frosting on the chilled brownies and enjoy!

Blushed Tips:

  • Brownies may appear undercooked after 50 minutes, but this is normal. They will set and firm up once cooled and refrigerated.
  • Store brownies in the fridge for up to five days (if they last that long!) or the freezer for up to three months.
  • Before I start making the brownies, I like to shred the zucchini in my food processor because it only takes seconds!
  • If you don't have a food processor, you could probably make this recipe in a blender, although I have never attempted it myself.  
Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Probably the best "healthy" dessert I've ever made, these Coconut Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Avocado Frosting have become my go-to if we have guests over, a special occasion, or even just a Saturday! If you try these out (you won't regret it), please let me know what you think! 

How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY

How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY

A couple years ago I was introduced to kombucha, a fermented sweet tea that is rich in probiotics. When I had my first sip, I actually couldn't believe how much I liked it! It had the crisp carbonation of pop, wasn't overly sweet, and was incredibly refreshing.

Because kombucha has gained in popularity over the last few years, you can find it in a variety of delicious flavours at most grocery stores for around five dollars a bottle.

Believe me. I know.

Five bucks for a drink is a little expensive, especially when you like to drink it as much as my fiancé. The high price tag and the fact that Curt liked it even more than I did, is why I decided to take a go at making it myself. I've now been consistently brewing kombucha every two weeks for the past two years, and I love it!

How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY

Kombucha is quite simple to make using green or black tea, sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY, sometimes referred to as a mother or mushroom, is a live culture that transforms the sweet tea into a healthy probiotic beverage by feeding off of the sugar and caffeine, and populating the liquid with beneficial yeasts and bacteria.

Now, you might be wondering, where on earth do you get a SCOBY? 

The neat thing about kombucha is every time you brew a batch, a new SCOBY forms on the surface of the tea during the fermenting process. People who regularly brew (like me) often have an abundance of SCOBY so it's not uncommon to see them offered for free on buy and sell websites. You can also purchase a dehydrated SCOBY online, or do what I did and grow one yourself.

How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY

It takes about four weeks to grow a SCOBY, but it's very inexpensive and fairly easy. All you need is a bottle of unflavoured, raw kombucha and some sweet tea. When you combine the sweet tea with the bottled kombucha, the good bacteria and yeasts found in the kombucha thrive on the sugar and caffeine in the tea, and a SCOBY will begin to form. It's pretty neat!

How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Heat the water to just before a boil and pour it into a glass jar (I used a 500 ml Mason jar). 
  2. Add 1 tbsp of sugar to the hot water and stir to dissolve completely.
  3. Add the tea bag and let steep for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the tea bag and set sweet tea aside to cool.
  5. Once cooled, add 3/4 of a cup of unflavoured, raw kombucha to the sweet tea and cover the jar with a piece of paper towel or a coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
  6. Place the jar in a dark space (a cupboard works great) where it will not be disturbed for approximately four weeks.

Blushed Tips:

  • Ensure the sweet tea is completely cooled before adding the kombucha. Kombucha is a living liquid and if it comes into contact with heat, the beneficial bacteria and yeast will die, and a SCOBY will not form.
  • Sometimes when you open a bottle of kombucha, there is a "baby" SCOBY floating on the top. Add the "baby" to your jar to help jumpstart your SCOBY growth, although it's not necessary.
How to Grow a Kombucha SCOBY

As the SCOBY begins to grow, the surface of the liquid will first become cloudy and then gradually develop into a white, rubbery-like disc. Once you have a well formed SCOBY that is thick enough to handle (a millimeter or two thick) you're ready to brew your first batch of kombucha!

I'll give you a few weeks to grow your own SCOBY and then share with you the next steps: brewing and bottling your homemade kombucha. Stay tuned!

How I Clean My Engagement Ring

How I Clean My Engagement Ring

Curt and I got engaged in May of 2016, and he proposed with an absolutely beautiful ring. When he began to plan the proposal (a complete surprise, which he knew I always wanted), he put a lot of thought into the design of the ring and chose to have it custom made. He decided on a round diamond in a bezel setting of white gold. He really wanted the bezel setting rather than claws because he didn't want me to have to worry about losing the diamond if the claws became loose. He also chose that setting because it's flat on top, so the ring will never snag on my clothes or get caught on my winter gloves.

How I Clean My Engagement Ring

I absolutely love my ring and almost a year later, I still catch myself sneaking a peek at my left hand. Multiple times a day! In an effort to keep it as pristine as possible, I always take my ring off when I'm in the kitchen, showering, cleaning, etc. When I'm not wearing it, I keep it in a little ceramic dish so I don't lose it and put it back on immediately after I'm done my task.

Regardless of whether you wear your ring all the time or take it off often like I do, every now and then you'll want to give it a deep clean to restore its gleam and shine. And it's super easy!

How I Clean My Engagement Ring

What You'll Need:

  • 2 small bowls
  • warm water
  • 1/4 tsp of natural dish soap (I use Seventh Generation Natural and Clear)
  • a small, very soft bristled brush (makeup brush, baby tooth brush, etc.)
  • lint free cloth
  • eye glass cloth

Instructions:

  1. Fill two small bowls with warm water.
  2. Add 1/4 tsp of dish soap to one of the bowls and mix with your finger.
  3. Place the ring in the bowl with the soapy solution and let it soak for a couple minutes.
  4. Using a soft bristled brush (I use a small, clean makeup brush), lightly brush the ring to remove any buildup.
  5. To rinse, place the ring in the second bowl with the warm water only. Repeat if needed, with clean warm water. I like to rinse my ring in a bowl versus under a running tap so I don't risk dropping it down the drain!
  6. Use a lint free cloth to dry the ring, then lay it flat to dry completely, if needed.
  7. Before putting it back on my finger, I also like to polish my ring with a clean eye glass cloth.
How I Clean My Engagement Ring

After a good clean, you'll immediately notice a renewed sparkle in your ring because the light is able to refract and pass more easily through the diamond. I like to give my ring a deep clean before a special occasion, but I think I'm going to start cleaning it a little more often. Even though it doesn't get that dirty because I take it off so much, you forget just how sparkly it can be until you clean it!

Do you take your rings off depending on what you're doing, or do you keep them on all the time? How often do you clean yours?