Healthy treats – the brownie edition
One of the challenges that many people face when deciding to pursue a healthy lifestyle, is what happens when you want to treat yourself with something sweet? Do you give in and fall of the wagon completely or do you find a healthy alternative? The good news is that you can still treat yourself and stay on a healthy track with one of my favourite treats – the chocolate brownie.
Be it gooey or fluffy, chocolate brownies can be a delicious dessert to add to your lunch box, a sumptuous send-off for a dinner party or the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea or coffee. The best way to “healthify” your brownies recipe is to modify your usual fat- and sugar-laden recipes with these nifty tricks.
- Change up your flour. Substitute white whole wheat flour for half of the white flour in your brownie recipe. White whole wheat flour is made from hard white wheat that has a lighter bran and a lighter taste than regular whole wheat flour. It will add healthy fibre to your brownie. I recommend using almond flour if you can find it. Using almond flour produces a denser and fudgier brownie! However, I know some people have nut allergies so if you do suffer from nut allergies please stay away from almond flour.
- Cut the fat. Brownies can be a truly decadent dessert, with up to a cup of butter or oil used in one pan. You really don’t have to use this much fat, however, because there are plenty of healthy substitutions you can experiment with. Replace one-half of the fat in your brownie with an equal amount of apple sauce, prune or date purée or mashed white beans. The prune or date purée provides the richest taste and a lovely silky texture. All of these non-fat options will replace the bulk the fat provides and add extra fibre and fewer calories. Black beans work best when the brownies have a strong chocolate flavour, while white beans have such a mild flavour they aren’t noticeable even in brownies that don’t contain a lot of chocolate. Soft or silken tofu or avocado can also replace up to half of the fat in brownies. Tofu doesn’t have a strong flavour, so it doesn’t alter the taste of your brownies. It also adds extra calcium and protein to the recipe. Some recipes for healthier brownies replace half of the oil with tofu and the other half with puréed fruit for an almost fat-free brownie.
- Cut that sugar. Reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe. You can usually safely reduce the sugar in a recipe by 1/3 without affecting the final outcome of your baked goodies. If you are attempting to make a less-processed, more-natural brownie; alternative natural sweeteners may be the answer. Honey, maple syrup, molasses or corn syrup are less-refined options than white sugar. Since these sweeteners are liquids, it is recommended that other liquids in the recipe be reduced by between 2 and 5 tbsp. to keep the finished product from developing a runny consistency.
- Reduce the chocolate. Use cocoa instead of melted baking chocolate to make brownies healthier. Per 30g of chocolate called for in your recipe, use 3 heaped tablespoons of cocoa. Since most chocolates are absolutely loaded with sugar this will drastically reduce the amount of fat in your recipe.
- Use egg whites. Use two egg whites for each egg called for in your recipe. This reduces the calories, cholesterol and fat in the brownies.
Pro tip: To make your brownie dairy free – substitute the butter for coconut oil. This is nice and simple because it’s a one-to-one ratio so if your recipe calls for ½ cup of butter, use ½ cup of coconut oil.
So now that you know how to make your brownies healthy you can be justified in having brownies for dinner. Need a simple brownie recipe to try out? Click here to view Chantal’s Healthy Brownie Recipe.