Friday, February 14, 2014


In honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to post a recipe for something sweet and delicious. When I think of Valentine's Day, one of the first things that comes to mind is dessert and chocolate. Dani Spies shows us how to make Elana's Gluten Free Brownies and just watching this video made my mouth water (and I'm not even a big chocolate fan!).

Elana is a pioneer in grain-free recipes! For more information and gluten-free, grain-free, high protein, paleo friendly, and healthy recipes by Elana, be sure to visit her website at

This recipe obviously isn't the healthiest food item to be eating, but I truly believe that not only do we need to make a significant effort to be healthy, we also need to make a significant effort to be happy and to enjoy life. Allow yourself to enjoy being a glutton for a day and reserve days like this for special occasions like Valentine's Day or other holidays and birthdays. You can also use days like this to practice your impulse control by only limiting yourself to one brownie for dessert - or better yet, as breakfast with your morning coffee! Then you have all day to burn those extra calories off!


  • 1 16-ounce jar of creamy, roasted, all-natural almond butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 cup agave -or- raw honey
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks -or- chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Empty the jar of almond butter into a large bowl. With an electric mixer, blend the almond butter so that any of the natural oils that have separated from the butter are blended back in well and until the butter resembles a very creamy and thick texture like peanut butter.
  3. Add in eggs, vanilla, agave/honey, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well blended with the electric mixer. Texture will end up looking creamy but thick.
  4. With a spatula, fold the chocolate into the batter.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 13'x9' baking dish (glass preferred).
  6. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Use the toothpick method to ensure the center is cooked well but remember that you have chunks of chocolate within the batter too, so if you pull the toothpick out and see what looks like uncooked batter make sure it's actually uncooked batter and not just melted chocolate; you don't want to overcook brownies.

Makes about 24 brownies. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 30 minutes.
Per Serving: Calories - 206; Carbs - 21; Fat - 13; Protein - 5; Sodium - 108; Sugar - 17.

Details for New Cooks

ALMOND BUTTER - This item has become a lot more popular in recent years thanks to a organic and healthy food movement. However, you're guaranteed to find this at your local health foods store. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have access to stores such as Zupan's, Whole Foods, New Seasons, and Trader Joe's. Make sure you are buying "all-natural" or "organic" to ensure you are not buying an almond butter with any added sugars or hydrogenated oils. Because you are purchasing an all-natural type of nut butter, the natural oils will separate from the creamy part as it sits. This is totally natural and all you need to do is give it a good stir or follow the directions in this recipe for step two.
EGGS AND VANILLA EXTRACT -  These are two fairly simple ingredients so there isn't a whole lot to add for the new cook. If you are looking to live a more natural and healthy lifestyle I do suggest purchasing organic, range-free eggs.
AGAVE OR RAW HONEY - Elana's recipe originally uses agave but you can also use raw honey as well. Agave and raw honey are great alternatives to the "normal" granulated, white sugar and you can use either ingredient to substitute sugar in most all baked goods. If using raw honey, try to purchase honey that is locally made. Locally made honey not only supports your local economy, but honey made from bees within your own area actually help tremendously with seasonal allergies as well as other great benefits! I always keep local honey in my pantry, not only for a sugar substitute in my baked goods, but also as a sweetener for my tea.
COCOA POWDER - Make sure to buy unsweetened cocoa powder; this is usually in the baking aisle. DO NOT buy chocolate powder mix (like Hershey's chocolate milk mix) - they are not the same thing. It will say right on the container "unsweetened cocoa powder".
BAKING SODA AND SEA SALT - These are pretty self explanatory. Both can be found in the baking aisle and spice aisle. I always use sea salt instead of regular salt as it has some better benefits (post on that later). For this recipe, whether using regular salt or sea salt, use a large-grained salt - the larger the better. The large the grain of salt is, the less likely it is to completely dissolve while the brownies are baking. This will cause the salt to stay in tact a little bit and as you bite into the brownie you will get light portions where you can taste a little bit of the salt grains and is absolutely delicious. (Think salted chocolate!)
CHOCOLATE CHUNKS - The easiest way to make chocolate chunks is to buy a big chocolate bar and cut it into chunks yourself. Sometimes you can find bags of chocolate chunks mixed in with the bags of chocolate chips in the baking aisle at the grocery store but this isn't always common. You can also use chocolate chips as well but I highly suggest using chocolate chunks in this particular recipe. You won't be disappointed! Fair trade chocolate bars are always a great way to go if you are someone, like me, who is a big supporter in environmental and economic protection. (More on fair trade later!)

Steps 1-3 are really very simple and easy to follow. :)
4. "Folding" in the chocolate. If you're not familiar with this term or technique it is a super simple one. Just use a rubber "scraping" spatula (not a cooking spatula you would use to flip burgers). Pour the chocolate into the batter, then use the spatula to kind of scoop the batter away from the sides of the bowl and fold it over the chocolate into the middle. Turn the bowl an inch or two at a time while continuing to fold the batter over and over again until the chocolate chunks are completely mixed well and evenly into the batter.
5. Brownie batter is very sticky. When cooking brownies, always grease up your baking pan to ensure it will not stick. You can use a wide variety of items to grease up a baking pan from actual spray to butter. To keep things simple and as natural as possible, I suggest using a stick of unsalted, organic butter. Rub the stick all over the bottom and sides of the pan so that it is coated well. If it's uneven, use a paper towel to rub the butter around the pan until it is evenly coated. Just a light coating works wonders! Use a 13-inch by 9-inch pan or something similar in size as long as the batter fills the pan nicely and isn't too close to the top (to allow for the brownies to rise but not overflow over the sides). For baked goods I always recommend using a glass pan instead of a tin or metal one. Glass is just such a better tool for baking goods like brownies and cakes in the oven. If you don't have a glass pan, and instead want to use a tin or metal one, just make sure to check on your brownies at around 25-minutes as sometimes these types of pans can cook baked items a little faster than normal.
6. When it comes to brownies, cakes, etc. always use the toothpick method! Pull the pan out of the oven (careful, it's hot!) then use a toothpick to stick into the very center and pull out. The center is always the best place to test if it's done or not as the sides tend to bake quicker than the center. If the toothpick looks fairly clean and there is no uncooked batter residue then it's done! 

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