Healthy Vegan Brownies

Dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free, with no added refined sugar and no added oil… is it possible? And will they taste good? Yes!

One of my favourite things to bake are vegan brownies. They’re my go-to dish for potlucks, birthdays, and any other occasion and always a hit, since they are relatively healthy for a dessert (no added butter, no added oil) and taste good. But in my never ending quest to come up with an even healthier version, suitable for those with various dietary restrictions, I recently decided to try to make these gluten-free and also skip the refined sugar. In my opinion, baking is an art and a science, and once you start removing regular flour and eggs, all sorts of funny things can happen along the way. So I was quite pleased when my first attempt at making these gluten-free and refined-sugar-free turned out and I ended up with something that actually tasted good!

Wet Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/4 cup real maple syrup (the good stuff)
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients

3/4 cup almond meal/flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill; those with nut allergies will need to substitute another type of flour, but I like this for the added protein)
1/4 cup tapioca flour (but you could use quinoa flour or whatever you have on hand)
1/2 cup cocoa (I prefer Camino brand, which is organic and fair-trade)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal (organic if you can)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (*see note below)

For the chocolate chips, have a lot of options. My preference is to use the Camino brand organic, fair-trade bittersweet 71% cocoa chocolate chips. Alternatively, you can add 1/2 cup of good quality dark chocolate shavings. Again, I recommend good quality chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. Just check labels to ensure you’re not adding any chips with dairy if you’re making them vegan.

First, preheat your oven to 350F and pull out an 8×8 baking pan. All you need to do is add all the wet ingredients into a small bowl and mix well. Then, in a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Add the wet mix to the dry into just blended and pop it into the oven right away. Bake about 20 minutes or until just set.

Let them cool before trying to cut them. They have a pretty soft texture, so while I’m sure you’ll be tempted to try some right away, it’s a good idea to wait so they don’t fall apart. Then enjoy (without feeling guilty–look at those ingredients!) and share with your friends and family. Don’t tell them they’re healthy brownies until after they eat them!

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