A wholefood approach to the chocolate brownie

I don’t think there is anyone in the world who doesn’t love the ooey, gooey, fudginess of a chocolate brownie, so when a friend at work gave me a recipe for a relatively healthy version, I had to make it my wholefood own. This brownie is seriously excellent from the texture to the taste to its nutrient profile to its easiness to make.

Wholefood brownie

Ingredients

4 tablespoons flaxseed meal + 12 tablespoons water, mixed together & left to gel up for 10 min

100 grams grated sweet potato/beetroot/carrot (whatever you have handy)

10 medjool dates, pitted and chopped

90 grams raw unsweetened cacao powder or 50g cacao & 40g carob powder (this combo makes it less chocolately)

4 tablespoons coconut or macadamia nut oil

½ cup chopped pecans

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Method

1.       Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

2.       In a food processor blend together the root vegetable of choice, dates and flaxseed meal mixture until well combined and it resembles a cake batter (could take up to 1 minute)

3.       Add the rest of the ingredients minus the pecans, and give it a good blitz again

4.       Take out the food processor blade and add in the chopped nuts and mix them through with a spoon or spatula, then pour the batter into a square brownie tin and smooth the top.

5.       Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Beware the brownie will still feel soft, but the top should look crusty and hold together.

6.       Allow to cool (I know, the struggle is real – they are just so damn tempting) and then cut into slices ready to serve

This makes 10 – 12 slices, keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week and freezes well, if you ever feel inclined to make double and have nourishing dessert food on hand. Now guys, the most exciting part about this recipe… check out its nutrient load

Flaxseed meal: Made from ground whole flaxseeds, these are a rich source of soluble fibre to support digestion, is the highest plant source of a chemical called lignans which has been shown to be beneficial to health. Flaxseed is also packed with the precursor to our essential omega 3 fatty acids which are necessary to lower inflammation and protect our brains

Root vegetables: Depending on which one you use, beetroot, carrot and sweet potato all come with their own unique powerhouses, but together are all chock full of fibre, beta-carotene’s, antioxidants and a vast array of vitamins and minerals that support health

Medjool dates: These soft, chewy, shrivelled up gems are actually not a dried version of a whole fruit like, say a grape/sultana or plum/prune. Yep, that’s right they grow exactly the way you purchase them, no drying or processing involved, making them an ideal wholefood sweetener. They are a good source of folate, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, choline and vitamin B6, and because they harbour a naturally intense sweetness, a little goes a long way, making them affordable when used in cooking.

Cacao: Did you know that in order to get that chocolately flavour we all know and love, the fruit that is cacao actually has to be fermented, if you YouTube cacao fermentation you will find some pretty cool clips! In terms of its nutrient profile, quality cacao is high in magnesium, potassium, zinc selenium and calcium as well as having an impressive amount of flavonoids potentially boosting antioxidant status in the body. Be warned though cacao contains both caffeine and a caffeine like molecule called theobromine which has the potential to exert the same stimulating effects as coffee.

Carob: I’ve included this here even though it’s an optional substitute for making the brownies less chocolately. I find it to be an interesting food with some great properties. Carob comes from the legume family so can already assume it is fibre rich, but it also contains high amounts of polyphenols. Compared to cacao, carob is higher in sugar, lower in protein and fat, and is higher in calcium, it does not contain caffeine or theobromine like cacao does. Carob is a good alternative if you like subtle almost caramel like flavours compared to the bitterness of cacao and also if you have sensitivities to the stimulating compounds in chocolate.

Further reading on the health properties of chocolate and carob see these links, both great reads: www.njmonline.nl/getpdf.php?id=1269 (cacao) and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133875/ (carob)

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do and wonder at the amazement that wholefoods have to offer!