Baking nurtures my spirit.

I made my first batch of cookies when I was about 8 years old  a required 4-H project. I can t say they were particularly tasty, but I can say that it was fun. I was hooked.

I don’t know what it is about baking that ignites a spark in me. Maybe it’s the challenge of creating something from nothing. Or the satisfaction of watching people enjoy my food. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Do you have a pastime or hobby that you love? Something you can totally lose yourself in and forget the world around you? Sorry, watching TV doesn’t count!

Make time to do what you love. Doing things that stimulate your creative juices can be a powerful antidote to stress and burnout.

I’m lucky. I discovered something that I love to do pretty early in life. I had a mom who would let me experiment in the kitchen to my heart’s content  as long as I cleaned up my mess.

These days I’m the chief cook and bottle washer at our house. While Steve enjoys watching the Food Network with me (shows like Iron Chef), he has absolutely no interest in cooking. That’s fine with me. I actually prefer to work alone in the kitchen.

He does like eating though! Thank goodness. It’s no fun cooking for people who don t like to eat.

For some reason, I never wanted to turn my passion for baking into a career. Somehow that would have tarnished the whole experience. I do it purely for pleasure. It helps me forget about everything else and relax.

What have you done lately that brings you joy? Something that makes your heart go “zing”, something that exhilarates you?

Create a daily ritual of disconnecting from your work by doing your favorite things. It’s crucial to your mental, emotional, and spiritual health that you make it a priority to participate in fun, rewarding activities. Something that doesn’t involve your job.

It’s also a key component of our ongoing mission of trying to live with An Island Perspective. We practice renewing our passion by following our bliss. This is one of the really fun parts of our journey!

To get you started, try baking a pan of my guilt-free  brownies. Here s a recipe for high protein, flour-less brownies. While they taste decadent, these are healthier for you than traditional brownies because of a mysterious ingredient that may surprise you. Yes, the secret ingredient is black beans! But but don t tell the kids.

Guilt-Free Fudge Brownies

Makes 16

  • 1 15-ounce – can black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350∞F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Place the drained black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts over the top. Gently swirl through the batter with a butter knife. Bake the brownies for 30 to 32 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares.

Enjoy! Let me know how you like them.