Sometimes, nothing other than a rich, chocolaty brownie will do. It’s like a warm hug for your mind, body, and spirit. From the first bite, you can feel the endorphins being released. As the luscious sweetness rolls across your tongue, waves of calm begin to take you over. Each breath is longer and slower. Worries fade into the background. Do I sound like an addict? A chocolate fiend?
Well, as a matter of fact, I love food. Seriously. I have been labelled a chocolate snob as well as a coffee snob. Food is intensely important to me; and it has to be good. Good quality and good flavor—the best for my budget. Yes, I have a food budget, too; and it’s probably not what you think. For me, being a holistic health coach just makes sense. I know what to eat to nourish my body, feel great, and satisfy my cravings for food without breaking the bank. Do those 4 things all belong in the same sentence? Yes, they most certainly do. I am going to give you the perfect example by explaining why these brownies are not only “amazing” but “super”, as well.
At the bottom of this newsletter is a recipe for heart healthy brownies. And they are gluten free. Brownies so full of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, you will want to call them health food. They still have sugar in them, so I wouldn’t go that far, but if you just have to have brownies, this is the recipe I recommend.
The first major ingredient is raw cacao powder; this is the chocolate for these wonderful brownies. Not to be confused with cocoa powder. Chocolate comes from a cacao nut from the cacao tree. Most chocolate is refined, meaning it is cooked and processed. That process causes it to lose its nutritional value. When the cacao bean is ground it contains very powerful anti-oxidants which eliminate free radicals caused by stress, poor diet, toxins, etc., making it healthy for your heart, nerves, and cells. Cacao also contains essential fatty acids which help reduce inflammation, and sulfur and magnesium which helps your muscles relax (including your heart muscle). And since it is not processed, it is also very high in fiber, which is important for colon health.
This recipe uses almond meal. Almonds are also heart healthy because they provide monounsaturated fat which reduces LDL cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. They are high in phytochemicals which reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Almonds are high in magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins E and B, and are a good source of fiber.
The flour I recommend is made from garbanzo beans which are a healthy and safe choice for added protein, and is naturally high in fiber. It is high in folic acid, manganese, and iron. You won’t find any soy in this recipe, which although being high in protein, also has adverse effects on hormones. Soy is actually called a hormone disruptor.
The sugar used is coconut sugar. It is made from the coconut flower, and is unprocessed so it retains its nutritional value. Refined sugars have no nutritional value and can cause dangerous changes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Coconut sugar contains enough fiber to lower the glycemic effect it has on blood sugar. On the glycemic index, where foods are rated according to their effect on blood sugar, coconut sugar rates at 35, compared to refined table sugar at 60. Coconut sugar is just as sweet as refined sugar, but causes a less dramatic change in blood sugar and insulin levels. When you combine this with the higher fiber content of these brownies, the change is even less dramatic than with traditional brownie mix. Coconut sugar is also high in anti-oxidants, some short chain fatty acids, and contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are a form of anti-oxidants which lower inflammation, lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer, and protects your cells from free radical damage.
I like walnuts in my brownies, so I included them in this recipe. Walnuts are also high in anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, and Omega 3 fatty acid. Specifically, ALA (Alpha- Linolenic Acid, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is considered the best nut for your heart.
I also like to bite into rich, gooey, chocolate bits of heaven, so I added just two squares of my favorite dark chocolate. Feel free to add more; just break them into chunks and stir them in the mix.
Don’t let the eggs or butter make you think that the health benefits of these brownies are less than so far discussed. Eggs are an important source of protein, and contrary to popular belief, do not raise cholesterol levels. Butter is an animal fat, like any other form in meat. It is natural and easily processed by our body. Many store bought brownie mixes contain processed oils which can contain deadly trans fats. Real butter adds so much flavor that it is the obvious choice. If you consider cutting a stick of butter into 18 pats, you will see that one brownie will have no more butter than a slice of buttered toast. I’d rather eat brownies, but I’m just saying…
I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I do. It’s fun to experiment too, with different variations. I made brownies 2 days in a row before I settled on this recipe (my family did not complain).
Amazing Super Brownies
½ cup almond meal
¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Mix
¾ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup raw cacao powder
½ cup melted butter (1 stick)
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 squares dark chocolate (roughly 28 ounces) broken into pieces
Grease 8 x 8 inch pan with coconut oil.
Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes
Cool slightly on rack before cutting.
Makes 9-18 brownies depending on how you cut them.
Blunk, L. (2013, December 18). Nutrition Information for Desserts and Snacks. Retrieved from Livestrong.com: www.livestrong.com/article/245977-raw-almonds-nutrition-information/
Busch, S. (2014, June 06). Healthy Eating. Retrieved from eHow.com: www.ehow.com/about_5084474_polyphenols.html
Gunnars, K. (2013, April 17). Coconut Sugar–Healthy Sugar Alternative or a Big, Fat Lie? Retrieved from Authority Nutrition: authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/
Herbs, Vitamins, and Minerals. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/phytochemicals
Murray, J. (n.d.). Vegetarian Food. Retrieved from About.com: vegetarian.about.com/od/beverage1/a/raw-chocolate-nutrition.htm
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