Jump-starting the New Year with RED KIDNEY BEAN CUPCAKES

It is not easy to eat healthy nowadays!

Every minute of the day we are bombarded by images of mouth-watering food in television, the internet and social media. These food and beverages are packed with either bad fats (saturated or trans fats); bad carbs (high calorie, high sugar); or bad proteins (meat with high saturated fats). Worst, some of these food contain genetically modified ingredients if not chemically-laced. We are well-aware of this reality. We just chose to give it a cold shoulder.

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Do we have choices left? I certainly believe we do; however it needs serious work and smart decisions. Buying pre-packed, ready-to-heat, processed food is always easier and convenient than making meals from scratch. But always, home-made food are healthier especially if the ingredients are chosen appropriately (healthy).

Then, there is the issue of lack of time and affordability – two most common reasons that hold people from making healthy meals and buying organic products or produce.

But to be brutally honest, we can say a bunch of other equally relevant reasons not to eat healthy! But there are choices available around, especially if we are more concerned about the increasing cost of health care and treatments.

Reality dictates that it is still relatively cheaper to prevent diseases or illnesses by embracing healthy eating and healthy living than paying for medical treatments and curative health care. I don’t know about yours but this is my idea of healthy eating.

To jump-start my new year, I thought of baking something light and easy. After eating so many sweets and meats during the holidays, it’s time to go light. For the recipe below, I made few smart choices:

> Used sunflower oil instead of trans fat loaded vegetable oil.
> Cut the sugar by using honey in part.
> Substituted plant-based milk to regular milk.
> Used oats instead of conventional flour.
> Used red kidney beans (plant-based) as binder instead of eggs.
> Since no eggs and conventional flour were used, this recipe is good for dairy-free and gluten-free diets.

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RED KIDNEY BEAN CUPCAKES
Yield: 20 Medium Cupcakes

Ingredients
* Red kidney beans – 1 lb. (soaked overnight, boiled, drained)
OR canned red kidney beans – 16 oz.
WET:
* Canola or sunflower oil – 1/3 cup
* Honey – ½ cup
* Sugar – ¾ cup (in baking, sugar is often in the wet ingredients)
* Vanilla extract – 1 ½ tsp.
* Almond or soy milk – 1 cup
DRY:
* Steel-cut Oats – 1 ¼ cup
(for softer, finer and less grainy texture use Almond or Coconut flour)
* Salt – ¼ tsp.
* Cocoa powder – 1 ½ tbsp.
* Baking powder – 1 ½ tsp.
* Sweet coconut flakes – ½ cup (optional)

Instructions
1. If using raw kidney beans, make sure the beans are soaked overnight; boiled and tender enough to chew; and then drained well.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
3. In a food processor or blender, mix together all the wet ingredients until well blended.
4. Add the kidney beans 1-2 cups each time until a pudding-thick consistency is achieved.
5. In a big bowl, add all the dry ingredients together and stir well.
6. Slowly add the wet mixture into the dry mixture to form a batter. Fold in or mix well.
7. Scoop the batter into the cupcake muffin pan.
8. Bake for 25 minutes. Always do the toothpick test when baking by using a toothpick or bread knife and poke the middle of the cake. When tip is dry then it’s done.

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