Let me introduce you to your new best friend, a gooey, decadent, delicious — and, oh yes, vegan and gluten-free –brownie. We’ve come a long way, baby!
I’m a big believer in the power of a lovingly-made and well-timed dessert (say, with coffee, mid-morning, 2 pm, and right before bed). Here in southeastern Idaho we don’t exactly specialize in sweets sans dairy (or gluten, clearly), so I have had to experiment with such confections myself. As my father was visiting this weekend, I asked one of my gluten-free girlfriends, Lori, if she might have a good brownie or cake recipe to share. Did she ever!
Put your pen down for a second. You know it’s impossible for me to share a recipe without throwing in some thoughts on the ingredients, and today the topic is, of course, our sweet love and friend in all things emotional or otherwise: chocolate.
The question is not, certainly, whether to eat chocolate – that’s a given; I think the question is whether it’s important to use organic chocolate over conventional chocolate. I’m chagrined to admit I have not been careful about only consuming organic chocolate in the past, but after discovering that conventionally grown cacao trees are sprayed with more chemicals and pesticides than almost all other crops, I’m adding chocolate to my (organic) dirty dozen.
The health benefits of chocolate are numerous, but don’t head for that nasty vending machine to fetch yourself a waxy snickers bar – I’m talking about the dark, organic fair trade stuff. We can’t gorge ourselves on chocolate and call this “living our best life,” but there are some surprising health benefits to eating a few ounces a day, including lower blood pressure, less risk of stroke and heart disease, reduced risk of diabetes, improved circulation, high fiber content (may keep you from eating an entire bag of chips) and flavonoids, which are supposed to help protect your skin from UV rays (I’m picturing myself burned to a crisp while eating dark chocolate bon bons on a yacht. Keep your sunscreen!). Chocolate also improves your mood (duh!), suppresses coughs, boosts vision (really? I’m legally blind), and may – via increased blood flow to your noggin – actually improve your cognition. Holy hot cocoa! Even more impressive, those who first consumed chocolate, the Maya and Aztecs, understood the sacred nature of chocolate, offering it to the gods and incorporating it into rituals and celebrations. Spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being from chocolate? Check. I’m in.
Finally, I offer you this incredible recipe, “Brownies of the gods:” 🙂
- 1 cup Earth Balance (or margarine)
- 4-6 oz dark organic chocolate chunks (you can also use more or different flavors of chocolate, depending on mood and/or level of desperation)
- 4 T flaxseeds, ground
- 3/4 c. water, warm
- 3 T vanilla
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar (or substitute)
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Frosting: 2 T. margarine, 2 T soy/almond milk, 4-6 oz chocolate (melted together)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt Earth Balance/margarine and 4-6 oz chocolate. Mmmm.
3. Grind flax seeds and mix with warm water. Let sit while you stir up other ingredients.
4. Mix flours, sugars, salt, and walnuts. Add chocolate mixture, flax seed meal, and vanilla.
5. Bake this goodness for 20-25 minutes in a greased 9×13 pan (or use parchment paper); don’t over bake, for goodness sake!
Instead of opening your oven and sniffing the amazing aroma of baking brownies, melt the frosting ingredients while you’re baking. Smooth on top of the brownies after they’ve cooled for a few minutes.