Simple & Sultry Brownies That Are Actually Good For You!
Those of you who follow me know I've been on a bit of a health-quest for the past few years, and a huge HUGE part of healing from BII has been DRASTICALLY modifying my diet. The junk I used to put into my body on a daily basis literally makes me cringe today.
However, every now and then I just get the urge to INDULGE! I'm talking, nice-rich-warm-brownie, nestled under a chilly hill of ice cream, and drizzled with chocolate syrup INDULGE.
(Maybe someday I'll share my homemade chocolate syrup recipe - Hershey's, get outta here with your high-fructose corn syrup abomination!)
So, for over a year now I have been *perfecting* these ooey-gooey chocolaty squares of pleasure, and now that I'm sure they're just right, I HAVE to share them with all of you!
Yes, you read that right! I have managed to create a melt-in-your-mouth, gooey, delicious, rich, and sultry brownie that is also low GI and PCOS-friendly! I'll admit, saying they're "good for you" might be just a bit of an exaggeration, like, I am not suggesting you should eat them all at once. Now worries though, these little guys are so rich and satisfying you aren't going to want to eat more than one...ok, maybe two.
That said, they certainly contain components that are absolutely good for your body, and I'm going to use this delicious recipe to teach you a little bit about how and why I chose the ingredients I did to make an amazing brownie that doesn't spike my blood sugar into the high heavens and doesn't make me feel the overshadowing doom of sugar-guilt five minutes after indulging.
So, go grab a cup o' tea, and sit down with me for a quick lesson in making something that tastes naughty, but treats the body nice!
First of all people, these brownies are flour-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. You could also easily modify this recipe to make them vegan. So, no matter what special diets you've got going on with your loved ones you should be able to make this one work! Another benefit to simplicity!
I'm basically an ingredient snob, so I use all natural, all organic ingredients every chance I get. This recipe uses natural sweeteners with a lower Glycemic Index, so that means these brownies only have 12g of sugar each, and they won't hurt your gut microbiome like artificial sweeteners. Oh, and don't worry, it's NOT Stevia (I would never do that to you)!
I'm going to use Ghiradelli's Dark Chocolate Brownie mix as a comparison to show you just how impressive this recipe really is nutritionally. Also, the Ghiradelli Dark mix was basically my favorite box mix before going healthy, so that gives you an idea of the taste profile I was going for.
Now, seriously, take a minute to admire this nutrition chart. These bad-boys are clocking in the calories at a slim 135, while those beloved Ghiradelli's are tipping the scale at 210.
I've also got just 41 mg of Sodium, while Ghiradelli has 130mg!
My brownies have 19g of carbs per brownie and G's brownies have around 27g, BUT mine come from whole grain, lower GI sources.
We've both got about 1g of fiber, but I've got around 12g of sugar and G's got 18g.
These things have a little punch of protein with 2.7g per brownie. G's has a measly 1g.
Finally, I've got some calcium, iron, and potassium to boost your intake, and G's has a bit of iron.
So, why is any of that even important?
Because, at first glance, you might be able to tell that my brownies are "healthier" because they are significantly lower in calories and a bit lower in sugar, but that's really not the whole story.
Let's look at the ingredients I chose and why:
Black beans - Beans make a great sub for flour, so you're replacing the main blood-sugar raising carbohydrate contributor in your recipe with a higher fiber, lower carb alternative. Eating fiber slows the body's absorption of sugar during a meal, and eating a diet containing adequate fiber actually lowers blood-glucose levels over time.
Cocoa powder - Cocoa flavanols have positive effects on obesity, insulin resistance, and glucose tolerance. Not to mention, cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants and tastes amazing.
Whole grain oats - Oats naturally have a lower Glycemic Index score because they take longer for the body to breakdown due to their soluble fiber content.
Maple syrup - Maple syrup has a lower Glycemic Index and hence causes a lower rise in blood-sugar than white sugar and corn syrup. It is similar to that of honey and agave, and you could sub either in this recipe if you prefer.
Cashew butter - Nut butters are low GI foods that when consumed on a low-carb diet can help to improve blood sugar and blood lipid levels. However, if you have PCOS avoid peanut butter due to the androgenic nature of peanuts. Cashew butter adds sweetness, depth, and texture to the recipe without adding sugar. You could sub with almond as well.
Coconut palm sugar - Coconut palm sugar is a low GI nutty-tasting sugar that subs well in most recipes in place of white or brown sugars.
Avocado oil - Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats which help the body to more efficiently use insulin and better control blood sugar levels.
Vanilla extract - Vanilla is another tricky way to make things taste sweeter without adding any additional sugars or carbs.
Dark chocolate chips - I like Nestle Toll House Simply Delicious Dark Chocolate Morsels because they only have 3 ingredients: organic chocolate, organic cane sugar, and organic cocoa butter, and they're 67% cocoa.
So, hopefully now you can see how all of these ingredients are actually working to help regulate blood sugar levels, rather than spike them into oblivion. Even though on the nutrition chart the brownies don't look all that far apart health-wise, the ingredients that make them up are SO important.
This is the difference between using refined white flours and sugars that increase insulin resistance vs using complex carbs, dietary fiber, lower GI sweeteners, and natural organic ingredients that work to improve blood sugar levels.
For me the real-world difference is between getting a blood glucose reading of 115 vs one of 165+.
But here's the best part. Making these things is a breeeeeeze!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Strain 1 (15oz) can black beans (look for ones with no additives) and rinse well.
Combine black beans, 1/2 cup whole grain oats, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1/4 cup avocado oil, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, 1/4 cup cashew butter, 2 TBSP coconut palm sugar, and 2 TBSP cocoa powder in a blender or food processor.
Blend really well.
Scoop evenly into coated 8" baking pan. I use either olive, avocado, or coconut oil to lightly coat my pan.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips evenly over the surface.
Bake for 20 min on center rack.
Cut when cool into 16 servings. Or, if you're like me, go ahead and do it when warm and make a huge mess out of the chocolate chips!
If you like a firmer consistency store these in the fridge. I store mine in a glass cake stand on the table.
Enjoy, and definitely let me know what you think!