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One way I’ve learned to get my kids excited about their adult relative’s birthdays is to get them excited about creating a healthy treat in honor of the event. The boy and girl have come to associate their father with peanut butter, their grandfather with chocolate chip cookies and their “Nana” with brownies. My parents came to visit from NJ today to celebrate my mother’s birthday, so of course the occasion called for some brownies.

If you’re looking for a good, straight-forward brownie recipe that’s a healthier nut standard take on the classic, I highly recommend Ellie Krieger’s Double-Chocolate Brownies. They contain only whole wheat flour and also include plain yogurt. Never one to leave well enough alone, I’d suggest using Greek yogurt and a healthier sweetener option than brown sugar (such as palm sugar, stevia or honey).

For an even healthier option that is gluten-free and is a little bit less traditional, the **Gluten-Free Goddess’ Dark Chocolate Brownies are to die for. The coconut oil in the recipe is much healthier than the canola oil in Krieger’s, and the almond meal and brown rice flour add fiber and protein.

Finally, if you’re feeling particularly outside the box, you could go the route I went today. Inspired by yesterday morning’s grain-free pancakes, I decided to attempt the same feat with brownies. When I told my mom her treat’s missing ingredient, she predicted I should have called it “fudge” instead of brownies.

I had worried as well that without flour the end result wouldn’t be firm or cake-like at all. I think these babies definitely deserve their name, though! I made them in the afternoon and popped them in the fridge until after dinner, and I think the chill time let them really firm up and reach a nice consistency. Even my dad, who is NOT into all of my funky and healthy modified cooking enjoyed his, and so did the girl who I’ve mentioned is not keen on nuts or anything too rich or fudgy.

Grain-Free Brownies

1 cup almond butter, softened in microwave
1/2 cup milk of choice (I used coconut milk)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. of salt (assuming your almond butter is unsalted)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup palm sugar
large handful of chocolate chips (I used mini, dairy-free Enjoy Life! chips)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare an 8×8 square baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine almond butter, milk, eggs and extract. Once combined add in cocoa powder and palm sugar, stirring to combine. Finally mix in chocolate chips.

Pour into dish and bake for about 20 minutes until set.

**this recipe would work for sunflower seed butter, and I think would taste lovely with some other mix-ins, such as cinnamon or shredded coconut. We aren’t big fans of nuts in our brownies around here, but some raw pecan or walnut pieces would definitely work.

These came together really quickly and would make a nice alternative to gluten-laden holiday desserts. For my vegan friends out there, this is another recipe which might work with a flax egg substitute. I didn’t want to get *too* experimental on my more traditional parents, but I promise to experiment and report back.


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