The Healthy Brownie Ingredients (yes, honestly, these are healthy treats!)
1. Raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you don’t have cacao)
Up to 80% of Americans have been shown to be deficient in magnesium due to the way our food is processed and grown, which generally leaves it magnesium poor.
Raw cacao, however, is a great source of magnesium. Magnesium helps calm the body and helps to build strong bones. It’s also a great source of zinc, iron and antioxidants.
2. Almond butter and almond flour
I love good fats. Almond butter is a mono-unsaturated fat, so it can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s also a good source of calcium and magnesium.
Don’t have almond butter in the cupboard? You can also do a peanut butter version – it just tastes more peanut buttery, which is tasty too.
3. Coconut flour (sub for more almond flour if you have an intolerance to coconut)
The fat in coconut flour is a medium-chain tryglsoride, which has been shown to help with cholesterol and can have anti-inflammatory benefits. Coconut flour also absorbs a lot of moisture (if you choose not to use it as part of this recipe, your brownies will be a bit more sticky, but still yummy!
4. Orange rind
Orange rind works so well when we want to reduce the sugar in a recipe and contains anti-oxidant properties too.
5. Sweet potato (secret sugar substitute number 1)
Sweet potatoes sweeten these brownies instead of processed sugar and if you’re into zero sugar, you can even do a version even without the monk fruit sugar (I’ve tried this with kids who like pop tarts and the sweet-potato-only versions have gone down well – though monkfruit sugar makes them extra yummy!).
Sweet potatoes are also a source of calcium, selenium, B vitamins and Vitamin A (so these brownies will even help you see at night!).
6. Monkfruit sugar (secret sugar substitute number 2) or use coconut sugar if you don’t have any
This ingredient has quite honestly revolutionised my sugar-free baking.
Monkfruit sugar is a source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and it’s potentially cancer-fighting too (see below).
If you don’t have monkfruit, you can use coconut sugar or normal sugar if you wish.
I use the brand Lakanto Monkfruit Sugar which I can get in the United Kingdom.
Never come across monkfruit sugar before? You’re in super for a pleasant surprise! Read on for a few fun facts…
(i) Monkfruits have been used for centuries
Monkfruit was cultivated by Buddhist monks in the 13th century and is also known as the ‘Buddha fruit’.
(ii) The sweetener is safe and apparently ‘autistic friendly’
It was declared safe by the FDA in 2010, including for pregnant and nursing women, and has been shown to be safe in animal studies in large amounts (though as a vegan I’ll admit I’m not into animal testing!). Use your own guidance though as always for what’s right for you. I recently did a coconut sugar version for my pregnant friend, Corrina Gordon-Barnes, just to be on the safe side.
(iii) Contains zero calories and won’t raise blood sugar levels
Monkfruit sweetener can be perfect for those on a keto diet or anyone with diabetes. Though please, as always check with your medical practitioner first. Some people need to raise their blood sugar levels at times too… I like the sweet potato in this recipe for providing slower release carbs.
(iv) Contains anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties
Monkfruit extract is super sweet (100-250 times stronger than sugar). This sweetness comes from its unique antioxidants called mogrosides.
(v) Monkfruit may have anti-cancer effects
In animal and test tube studies monkfruit sugar has also been shown to inhibit cancer cells (though no human studies have been done as yet).
Also, monkfruit doesn’t have the same aftertaste of stevia, so often people prefer it. My chocolate orange brownies have gone down super well, with no one realising that they don’t contain normal sugar.
OPTIONAL EXTRA INGREDIENTS
7. Pecans and walnuts (optional, if you like nuts in your brownies)
These nuts are also a source of mono-unsaturated fat, as well as iron, zinc and magnesium amongst many other nutrients… plus walnuts are a great plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
8. Dark Chocolate (optional)
You can also add chocolate chunks in the brownie itself, or top with melted chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in flavenoids, which are antioxidants and is a great source of iron.
Quantities and Instructions
(Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut and Coconut Free)
I wholly recommend doubling up this recipe, which is what I usually do, then I freeze a batch. They make great breakfast bars and snacks. I’ve even enjoyed them straight from the freezer, a bit like a frozen dessert base!
- 1 cup of cooked sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup of almond butter (drippy is best) – you can also use peanut butter, which has a stronger taste to it, but yum in a different way. or any other nut or seed butter
- 1/3 cup of cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you don’t have cacao)
- 1/4 cup of almond flour
- 1/4 cup of coconut flour (or more almond flour if you don’t tolerate coconut
- Grated rind of two oranges (I like to use organic oranges which don’t have wax on, but go with what you’ve got)
- 1/3 cup chopped or bashed pecans/ walnuts (I like to use soaked and dehydrated nuts which are more airy and biscuity, but again go with what you’ve got!)
- 100g bar of dark chocolate – break up however much you’d like into your Brownie and/or melt and drizzle over the top with a few extra gratings of orange for effect
If your kids are getting involved, just a note that grating the orange can result in shaved fingers if not careful, so take extra care to show kids how to hold the orange so as not to get scraped. (And as my friend pointed out, finger shavings technically make this recipe non-vegan! Plus are painful for kiddies!)
1. Cook a batch of sweet potatoes
My favourite, zero prep way to do this is to the pop them in the oven with skins (pricked with a knife to prevent explosions. I cook mine at 200 deg C/ 180 fan (or 390/ 355 fan if using Farenheit), When the potatoes cooked, let them cool, then you can just peel off the skin – super easy.
2. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/ 140 degrees C fan (or 320 degrees F/ 285 degrees F fan)
Note: You can cook these brownies at a higher heat for crispier edges, but cook for a shorter amount of time. I like mine a bit more fudgy the whole way through.
3. Mix the sweet potato, almond butter, cacao powder, almond flour, coconut flour and orange rind
You can use a large mixing bowl (or you can use a blender, but I like to double up so use a bowl, and it’s fun to use a bowl with kids).
Mix the 1 cup of sweet potato, 1/2 cup almond butter, 1/3 cup cacao powder, 1/4 cup of almond flour, 1/4 cup of coconut flour and grate two oranges into the bowl. Mix all together.
4. Add any optional nuts and chocolate chunks
Lastly add any chopped nuts (optional) and any chocolate chunks (optional)… you can bash them up a little in a pestle and mortar – my kids love doing that!