If you are dieting or simply striving to eat healthier, it can be difficult to avoid the temptation of sneaking in a cookie here and a sleeve of Oreos there. Most of these snack foods we crave, however, are empty calories with loads of sugar.
Personally, I used to avoid all desserts like the plague when I first began getting into fitness and nutrition for fear that they would slow down my strength gains and sabotage my efforts to get a 6-pack. This made it extremely hard to adhere to a healthy diet since I constantly felt deprived.
I have since learned that just because you are on a diet doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to avoid everything that slightly resembles a dessert. All you need is some smart cooking strategies, some simple recipe substitutions, and a little creativity to turn a sugary death trap into a delicious AND nutritious dessert.
The following healthy brownie recipe is one of my staples that will not only satisfy your sweet-tooth, but also provide quality nutrition in under 30 minutes of cooking time.
BuiltLean Healthy Brownie Recipe vs. “Other” Brands
Most typical pre-packaged brownies and mixes are loaded with calories, sugars and trans fats. If you are dieting and trying to look and feel your best, these brownies can sabotage your success for sure!
By using only whole and unprocessed ingredients, you can change the complete nutritional profile of this tasty snack which makes them far superior to common, store-bought brands like Little Debbie and Betty Crocker. Here’s some more information on the differences.
Nutrition Info | Healthy Brownie Recipe
Notice in the chart below that the healthy brownie has far less calories and has a small fraction of the fat and sugar of the store-bought brands. In fact, only one brownie serving of Little Debbie packs 10 teaspoons worth of sugar!
Oat Flour vs. White Flour
Most baked goods use refined white flour, which is generally devoid of any nutrition. To make matters worse, the flour is bleached to give a “clean” white appearance, which creates the toxic byproduct alloxan.
In most recipes that call for flour, oat flour is an easy substitute that you can buy in most grocery stores or make yourself by blending plain oatmeal in a food processor. Oats contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that will help fuel your metabolism.
If you are looking for a recipe that’s even lower in carbs, another simple substitute would be replacing some or all of the oat flour with almond flour, which adds more healthy fat to the recipe.
100% Dark Cacao Powder
Chocolate is one of the most powerful antioxidants, but most companies dilute it by adding loads of sugar. I like to use Hershey’s Special Dark Cacao because it is 100% cacao and sugar-free, which makes it perfect for baking.
Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
To pack these brownies full of protein, I like to add a whey powder of choice. It is best to get most of your dietary protein from whole food sources, but when you lead a busy lifestyle eating whole foods every meal and snack can be challenging. You can use your favorite whey, personally I prefer 100% organic and grassfed whey to make sure I am getting the best nutrition possible.
We all know that loads of sugar will spike your insulin and lead to weight gain, but did you know that most artificial sweeteners can do the same? Even though they are debatably considered safe for human consumption, I opt for something a little more natural when I bake called Stevia.
Stevia comes from the plant of the same name and is 25-30 times sweeter than sugar, but has a very small impact on your blood-sugar.
I have also made them without sweetener and they come out just as awesome since the applesauce and cacao give them a sort of natural sweetness.
The Secret Ingredient
The one ingredient that I always get a lot of questions about is the berry flavored applesauce. While the berries do help add a touch of sweetness, the real reason this is a “secret” ingredient is that the berry flavor helps bring out the richness of the chocolate. I have also found that berry flavored baby food works here as well (figured that out from an old recipe book).
How to Prepare | Healthy Brownie Recipe
All of the following ingredients you should be able to purchase at your local grocery store in the health food section. Whole Foods will have everything as well but may be a little more on the expensive side.
Ingredients | Healthy Brownie Recipe
Cooking Instructions | Healthy Brownie Recipe
Prep time: 10min
Cooking time: 20min
For an extra delicious treat, try topping with a small serving of peanut, or almond butter, or coconut flakes. Even as is, these bad boys will rock your socks.
Please let me know what you think!