Almost Guilt-Free Brownies

September 6, 2012

Although this blog is dedicated to healthy eating, a few evenings ago I decided to treat myself to some brownies and I just have to share the recipe with you! It comes from a cookbook titled, “Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health” and is my go-to recipe for brownies as they are relatively guilt-free and taste A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Pair a piece (or two!) with some French vanilla ice cream and I think you’ll agree – it’s a little taste of heaven!

What’s your favourite “healthy” recipe using cocoa?!

Ingredients:
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (155 mL) natural cocoa powder (I used quality Dutch cocoa from Costco)
1/2 cup (125 mL) whole wheat flour (yes, whole wheat flour! – I even used spelt!)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch metal pan with parchment paper. Make sure to use enough parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges of your pan.
2. Beat together the oil and eggs. Add the sugar and beat until slightly thickened.
3. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder. Slowly beat in.
4. Stir in the whole wheat flour and baking powder (which you should pre-mix in a separate small bowl). The batter will be quite thick.


5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and gently spread (again, it will be quite thick!).
6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper at the sides and lift the brownie out. Finish cooling on a wire rack. Then flip the brownie over and gently peel off the parchment paper.
7. Cut into 16 equal pieces. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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Carrot cake is one of those cakes that sound healthy, but usually isn’t because of the obscene amount of oil it contains (typically between 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups) to ensure its moistness. Well, here is a super moist carrot cake that contains only 1/4 cup of oil! How is that even possible, you ask?! Well, it’s because of two additional healthy ingredients that replace all that excess oil: buttermilk (don’t let its name fool you – at 1%, it’s low in fat!) and pumpkin puree (which besides being low in fat, is high in fibre). Now, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, but it’s growing on me. And it makes this carrot cake taste absolutely gorgeous, as one of my British friends would say!

I have made this cake at least half a dozen times since discovering it just three weeks ago, and the one I just made was supposed to be for friends we are visiting tomorrow for dinner and “games night” (we’re going to play “Settlers of Catan” – for details of this uber-fun game, check out http://www.catan.com/), but it looks like I’ll be baking another one tomorrow morning!

I found this recipe on an amazing blog you absolutely must visit at http://www.aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com/, though it originally comes from “The Looneyspoons Collection” by Janet & Greta Podleski, who have a website at the following address: http://janetandgreta.com/, which you also MUST view! I think I’m going to be asking for a copy of this cookbook for my birthday (this is my not-so-subtle hint to my wonderful husband!!).

And finally, the recipe:

Icing Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 packages of cream cheese, room temperature (I used just one 250 g package)

1/4 cup butter (I used 2 Tbsp)

1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar (I used just 1 cup)

1 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate (I used 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, including the pulp)

1 tsp grated orange zest

Icing Directions:

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until it is smooth. Slowly add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add the orange juice and zest, mix well. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 cup brown sugar (not packed)

3/4 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have any, so I used kefir instead)

1/4 cup oil (I use canola)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups finely grated carrots (I recommend 2 and 1/2 cups)

1/2 cups walnuts (plus I threw in a handful or two of raisins!)

1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Cake Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 round 9-inch baking pans.  You can grease & flour them or line the bottoms with wax paper (wax paper is my preference).

In a bowl combine the flour, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger and salt.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, combine the pumpkin, sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture, and combine (on low-speed or by hand with a wooden spoon) until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Then gently add the carrots, nuts, raisins (if using) and coconut.  Hand mix.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the 2 pans, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes come out clean.

When done baking, cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around the circumference of the cake to loosen it from the cake pan, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack. You can ice the cakes when they have cooled completely. I prefer to serve my carrot cake the following day, as it gives all the flavours a chance to really soak through. I promise you, this cake will not disappoint!