Recipe Rehab: Basic brownies with a healthy twist

Our weekly feature, Recipe Rehab, takes a recipe — sometimes basic, sometimes decadent and sometimes just plain unhealthy — and turns it into a scrumptious and healthy dish, pumped up with nutrition. Sometimes all it takes is a few alterations to cook a dish that would make even your nutritionist proud.

Everyone loves a good brownie, but probably not the guilt that comes with eating them. With just a few substitutions and additions, you can make a brownie that everyone will love … 100% guilt-free!

Ingredients (adapted from original recipe)

  • 1/4 c. unrefined coconut oil and 1/4 c. raw almond butter
  • 2 (1 oz.) squares organic unsweetened chocolate
  • 2/3 c. sucanat (pure evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 eggs, preferably organic, well beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour, preferably sprouted or whole grain
  • 1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 c. grated zucchini (optional way to sneak in veggies!)


1) Melt coconut oil and chocolate together in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. You may need to add up to 1/4 c. water gradually to get the consistency you like.

2) Pour into a greased 8-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

3) Enjoy your guilt-free brownies!

Rehab Rundown

1) The unrefined coconut oil and almond butter replace butter in this recipe. If you use organic butter, or better yet, organic ghee, you can still have a great, healthy brownie. But by using unrefined coconut oil you get the added benefits of good fats like lauric acid and cancer fighting and immune building properties. Raw almond butter adds protein, calcium, iron and other minerals.

2) Chocolate: It’s not the Evil One that it is made out to be. Rather, it is the additives in chocolate products that can be problematic. Use organic to be extra-healthy and feel no guilt about getting the antioxidants!

3) Sugar: You almost never need as much sweetener as a recipe calls for, and refined sugar IS the Evil One it is made out to be. Sucanat is pure evaporated cane juice, and retains the iron, B6 and minerals that are normally refined out. And did I mention you don’t need to use as much?

4) Eggs: Yep. Use ’em. Good fats and protein. Get organic if you can as most organic, free range eggs have higher concentrations of the good omega-3 fats.

5) Flour: Use whole grain flour when you can. I love spelt for baking and digestability, fiber and nutrition. If you really want to pump up the health factor, try sprouted spelt flour, which becomes a vegetable and protein source through its sprouting process.

6) Salt: Use unrefined sea salt. It supplies vital minerals.

Rehab Reveal

Raw almond butter, 1/4 c., adds 6 grams of fiber, 16 grams of protein, twenty percent of your daily calcium and twelve percent of your daily iron to your recipe.

Walnuts, 1/2 c., add lots of good fats, 7 grams of protein, four percent of your daily calcium and ten percent of your daily iron to this recipe.

Zucchini , 1/2 c., adds fiber and 5.5 mg vitamin C.

Rehab Roundup

I know that baking is often an impulse activity, so the trick is to keep your pantry stocked with the right ingredients. I’ve introduced some unusual ingredients here but if you stock up on these items now, they’ll be available for whenever the baking bug bites. Click on the links to find items for online purchasing information.

  • You can find unrefined coconut oil in most local health food stores or coops, natural foods market and natural foods sections of your local supermarkets. It retails for about 7.00 for 14 oz.
  • Raw almond butter is available in the same places you can find the coconut oil. Or, if you live near a Trader Joe’s, you can grab a 1-lb. jar for a mere 5.99. It retails for about 11.00 elsewhere.
  • Sucanat is worth the search — and the price, probably at least double that of sugar. Try the same places, or order online.
  • Add some organic chocolate, found here for 4.75 a pound.
  • Whole grain wheat flour is widely available, although I recommend spelt, which can be found at all the aforementioned places as well as online. Sprouted spelt flour is the healthy pinnacle you are striving to reach; I have only found it online.
  • My favorite unrefined sea salt is Orsa Pink Mineral Salt.

With a little planning, you can have healthy brownies full of protein, good fats, minerals and vitamins that wouldn’t have been there if you used the original recipe. Chocoholics rejoice!

Author by Debra McDuffee