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

  • 1 cup oat flour (or 1/2 cup oat flour & 1/2 cup almond flour)
  • 3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder (100% cacao)
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 cup Stevia (or 1/4 cup Splenda)
  • 8 oz berry flavored applesauce (or baby food)
  • 4 egg whites
  • Coconut oil (or non-stick cooking spray)
  • 9 x 9 baking pan

    Cooking Instructions | Healthy Brownie Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Mix dry ingredients (oat flour, chocolate whey powder, baking cocoa, salt, baking soda) together in a large bowl.
  • Mix wet ingredients (egg whites, berry applesauce, Stevia) together in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  • Oil the dish with coconut oil and spread mixture evenly among pan.
  • Bake for 20-25min.

    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!

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    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Feb 24, 2012 - 12:45 #

      Great job with this post, Steve. Keep it up! …now I just need to persuade someone to make these brownies for me.

      1. profile avatar
        Paul Gummerson Feb 24, 2012 - 14:19 #

        I can make those brownies for you. Chef Paul, Higher Elevations Personal Chef Services

        1. profile avatar
          Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Feb 25, 2012 - 21:01 #

          Haha. Thanks Paul!

    2. profile avatar
      Carla Feb 24, 2012 - 12:45 #

      Sounds like an awesome recipe! It resembles a carbless pizza crust recipe that my fiance and I are completely in love with.

      I’ll try tonight…

      1. profile avatar
        Ashlie Mar 09, 2012 - 19:38 #

        Hey, getting ready to make these brownies tonight! Question for Carla…would you mind sharing your carbless pizza crust recipe? Been meaning to find a good one for homemade pizza! 🙂

      2. profile avatar
        Nornie Jun 07, 2012 - 13:57 #

        Carbless pizza crust…sounds great. Will you share recipe?

    3. profile avatar
      Kat Feb 24, 2012 - 14:48 #

      A teaspoon of instant espresso will also bring out the flavor of the chocolate. It’s a trick that the Barefoot Contessa uses in her much more fattening recipes — but it adds no calories…

      1. profile avatar
        Stephen Bergeron, CSCS, CPT Feb 24, 2012 - 19:12 #

        That sounds great Kat! My girlfriend recently experimented with adding the zest of one orange and it is phenomenal! Definitely my new favorite!

    4. profile avatar
      Stephen Bird Feb 24, 2012 - 20:56 #

      Made them this morning. Tasted great. Also added chopped walnuts into the mix to give it a bit of crunch. The kids even liked them 🙂 Thanks for the recipe. Will definitely try the zest of an orange next time as well.

      1. profile avatar
        Steve Feb 26, 2012 - 11:22 #

        Your welcome Stephen, they have become a staple in my house as well!

    5. profile avatar
      Brenda Mccartney Feb 24, 2012 - 21:27 #

      Loved the Brownies but could eat the whole pan!!how many serves to get the nutritional breakdown listed,84 cals etc?

      1. profile avatar
        Steve Feb 26, 2012 - 11:24 #

        Each batch makes 9 servings. I try to only eat one as a quick reward or to satisfy my sweet tooth (not always easy!)

    6. profile avatar
      varun Feb 25, 2012 - 22:17 #

      Brilliant. …please keep passing such recepies…its very importat for all the fitness freaks…
      really love the article. .

    7. profile avatar
      Rose Feb 26, 2012 - 15:07 #

      Do you have a healthy (maybe organic) sub for Truvia? I have heard bad things and prefer something real instead. Otherwise, sounds like an amazing recipe!

      1. profile avatar
        Steve Feb 26, 2012 - 17:09 #

        You can opt for just plain old Stevia if you like which is derived naturally from a plant. Just be careful not to use too much as it is MUCH sweeter than most sweeteners.

        Most of the time I don’t add any additional sweetener as the brownies are actually sweet enough without 🙂

    8. profile avatar
      Ben Feb 27, 2012 - 08:22 #

      Nice job Steve! This article made me think twice about that sleeve of Oreos!

      1. profile avatar
        Steve Mar 18, 2012 - 15:22 #

        Thanks Ben!

    9. profile avatar
      Theresa Feb 28, 2012 - 10:10 #

      Thanks for the recipe Steve. Brownies are my favorite dessert – so now I won’t feel so guilty when I have one! Great article!

      1. profile avatar
        Steve Mar 18, 2012 - 15:23 #

        Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed!

    10. profile avatar
      Ashlie Mar 15, 2012 - 21:47 #

      I have already made these brownies twice! Brownies are my favorite treat and I have tried many so called healthy versions this is by far the best one! I make a healthy treat for the family on the weekend and these have won first place, even my 7 yr old loves them! If a kid loves them you know their a hit! Thank you for sharing 🙂

      1. profile avatar
        Steve Mar 18, 2012 - 15:22 #

        I’m glad your family enjoyed them guilt-free!

    11. profile avatar
      andrew Mar 27, 2012 - 15:21 #

      They were very tasty however i found they turn out a little dry any tips for keeping them moist. I did two batches and cooked them with peanut butter but that made it worse. Thanks for the recipe though its great

    12. profile avatar
      Tony Apr 20, 2012 - 11:35 #

      Thanks for the recipe – will try this tonight. Any tips for what to use instead of oat flour? I can’t get hold of that at short notice – I have got the Almond flour so maybe normal plain flour instead until I can get oat flour? (I haven’t got a grinder to make oats into flour either). Cheers!

    13. profile avatar
      CS Jun 26, 2012 - 16:33 #

      I calculated the recipe (- stevia and coconut oil) and got different stats than you did… Assuming 9 servings, I got: 112 calories, 6.3g total fat, 7.3g carbs, 3.2g sugar, 2.4g fiber, and 9g protein.

    14. profile avatar
      Morgan Jul 13, 2012 - 15:53 #

      Yuck, I just tried making these. They came out very cakey, not like gooey brownies are supposed to be. They are WAY too sweet with the sugar. I should have ommitted it. I did not have chocolate protein powder, just the cocoa, but I can’t even taste chocolate.

    15. profile avatar
      Bibi Reyes Aug 24, 2012 - 02:33 #

      just made them, luv them. i can totally use these for cravings. I altered the recipe in two ways: I used 1 tbsp regular granulated sugar since i didnt have Stevia or Truvia, & I used 1 full regular egg since someone mentioned them being cakie (eggs “fluff” a dish). As usual, I slightly undercooked them too, to preserve moistness. Making the oat flour was easy & I chose to use the almond/oat combo 🙂 They turned out great..i smiled the whole time. Great munchie fix u can feel good about eating.

    16. profile avatar
      Adam Sep 02, 2012 - 15:15 #

      Cayenne or chili powder also brings brownies to life as well as some kick. Definitely going to try these.

    17. profile avatar
      Anthony Jan 10, 2017 - 21:44 #

      Thank you for this recipe, Stephen. I have already made a few large batches (I used twice the amount of ingredients) and they are great. I used Sweet n’low since that is what I have had at home (make sure use a lot less than the other types of sweetener). I also generally add 2 tbsp flaxseeds (grind it with oatmeal). I make my own applesauce from the cheapest apples I find in the grocery stores. I make it without adding any sugar but generous amount of cinnamon. It is very delicious and brownies are not too sweet unlike in Starbucks, which is what I like. Sometimes, I also add raw hemspeed, some walnuts if I have or almonds into the batter.

      Tonight, I made a new batch for the coming days. I added a tsp of vanilla and a tsp of coconut extract, almonds, as well as 1/3 cup of shredded unsweetened reduced fat coconut flakes into the batter (Actually, I grand the coconut flakes with flaxseeds and oatmeal in Vitamix when making oatmeal flour). I also melted 8 ounces of dark chocolate (70% cacao) in a heatproof plate over a saucepan with boiled water and spread it over the brownies topped with sliced almond and coconut flakes before cutting them.

      1. profile avatar
        Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jan 16, 2017 - 18:32 #

        Thanks for sharing, Anthony!

    18. profile avatar
      Anthony Jan 10, 2017 - 21:58 #

      I forgot to mentioned in my previous comment that I add a tbsp of coffee, instant or not. I don’t like to waste the egg yolks, either (How could I when I even save fruit and vegetable scraps to make broth or veggie-fiber crackers from pulps?)

      I make incredibly tasty Lemon Coconut Crust bars so that’s where I used the egg yolks (http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/lemon-coconut-crumb-bars/) but I do customize the recipe in a similar fashion to your recipe above. I use oatmeal flour, and eliminate all cacao products since I used citrus related ingredients. I like ON whey protein powders so I use cookies n’cream protein powder for lemon coconut bar and the dark rich chocolate protein powder for brownies.

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