Sometimes chocolate truly is the answer! Any health-esteemie knows that you can have your chocolate and eat it too, because it truly can be super amazing for your health! And what better way to enjoy it than in the form of healthy gluten free vegan brownies? I certainly can’t think of one!
So let’s get our chocolate on and treat ourselves to these delish vegan brownies. And, of course, since you’re in foodie nerd town here in the Ms. Health-Esteem house, let’s learn about why chocolate deserves a spot on your healthy foodie plate. Ready to dive in?
Is Chocolate Seriously Good For You?
One of the happiest days of my healthy foodie life was the day I discovered that chocolate could actually be good for me. I mean, who doesn’t want to be able to enjoy something as wonderful and delicious as chocolate on the regular sans guilt? I know I’m still pretty pumped about it!
Which is why I love to make tons of chocolate treats (like the awesome healthy gluten free vegan brownies we’ll be making in a minute!)
While there are tons of chocolate options to choose from (some of which have an unfortunate social impact; we can talk more on that in a minute), it’s actually super easy to pick out the healthy options when you know what you’re looking for. It’s all about that cacao goodness baby!
Raw cacao is super good for you.
Raw cacao (the beans used to make chocolate) is overflowing with nutritious awesomeness. It brings goodies like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium and fiber to the table. Sounds kind of cool right?
But what exactly does that mean for you health wise?
All of that magnesium is pretty exciting! 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder gives you 9% of your daily recommended value of magnesium, which is kind of a big deal. It helps your body absorb calcium, plays a roll in muscle and nerve function, aids in maintaining a healthy heart, supports immune function, promotes healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and so much more. Those are some pretty important duties, am I right?
Add in all, that iron (4% of your daily in a single tbsp) and we’re rocking it in the nutrient department! This essential mineral helps transport oxygen throughout the body. Super cool, right? It’s also a pretty important factor in energy production. A lack of iron tends to have us lagging. And I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck don’t have time for that. (source)
If you weren’t already in love with cacao, this beautiful plant is also happy to support your digestive health with a ton of fiber (4% of your daily per tablespoon). All of that fiber even stabilizes your blood sugar. Isn’t that fantastic? (source)
Flavanols found in cacao may even have the potential to be super kind to your heart, protecting blood vessel linings and preventing high blood pressure (source). But it gets way cooler than that!
Those sexy flavanols also have a photoprotective quality. That means that eating healthy chocolate options on the regular will help your skin protect you from UV damage! Booyah! But keep in mind that quality truly matters here. Those inexpensive, conventional chocolate bars had no effect in this department. We’re looking for the good stuff baby. (source)
These gluten free vegan brownies would be a great go to. And so would some of the goodies in this free healthy dessert ebook:
Ingredient quality really does matter!
You may have noticed that I keep saying cacao, not cocoa. And there’s a reason for that. Those two things are not the same!
Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. This removes a lot of the fat (cacao butter) but leaves us with tons of enzymes, vitamins and minerals to devour. Cacao is seriously nutrient dense and has a ton to offer.
Cocoa powder is made when raw cacao is roasted at high temperatures, which changes our nutritional content. Enzymes and vitamins are typically heat sensitive, meaning that they don’t all make it through the process and we end up with less.
Does that mean that cocoa is terrible, useless and should never be consumed?
Heck no! If you have some pure cocoa powder hanging out in your cupboard don’t feel like you need to throw it away. I just personally prefer to get raw cacao whenever possible. Because why settle for less, you know?
On top of that, many chocolate options are mostly sugar. Honestly, that cacao deliciousness we were going for has been overly processed and buried in a sea of milk, sugar, corn syrups, flavours and more. It’s truly a shame.
If you’re a chocolate lover and find yourself excited to find healthier options, Camino’s selection is my personal fave! You can also easily make your own with a few simple ingredients.
These delish gluten free vegan brownies feature raw cacao powder in all of it’s glory. But cocoa powder would be a great sub if you already have some on hand.
Does Fair Trade Matter?
Those el cheapo chocolate bars hanging out by the cash register at your local grocery store are 100% candy. Not good for your health and honestly problematic. There’s often a high cost to low prices that we don’t tend to think about.
Harvesting cacao is a heck of a lot of work! The pods (which contain those wonderful, delicious beans) are removed from the trees and need to be opened manually with a sharpened blade. While machines have been invented to pry those pods open, many cacao farms still do it by hand. (source)
You might think that’s the end of it, but surprisingly cacao beans have to be fermented before they can be made into cacao nibs or powder and ultimately yummy, yummy chocolate. This usually takes around 5 to 8 days and is quite the process.
Farmers often need to mix the beans at specific intervals and even transfer tons (seriously, there’s often 1 to 2 tons of beans per fermentation box) of beans from one box to another daily to ensure uniform fermentation and increased aeration. No gym membership needed if you’re working on a cacao farm! (source)
Oh, and if that already didn’t sound like a lot more work than you expected, the beans then need to be dried and cleaned before they can be processed. Basically, this is a long, difficult and very involved labour of love.
And yet there are tons of really inexpensive chocolate bars out there… which seriously doesn’t reflect all of the hard work, time and dedication that goes into making chocolate happen. How do they keep the prices so cheap? Low wages. For all of their hard work, cacao farmers typically receive very little from an incredibly highly profitable global chocolate trade. Which is seriously not cool!
While it may seem a little strange to pay a bit more for chocolate, supporting fair wages is so important!
Supporting fair trade companies and investing in properly priced products helps to ensure that farmers (many of whom live in developing nations) receive fair wages and safe work environments and also supports agricultural improvements and community development. A total win!
While chocolate is a hot commodity, it can be incredibly difficult for small-scale farmers to create a profitable business. And, as you now know, it’s a lot of flipping work! Supporting companies that commit to fair pay and/or fair trade initiatives helps to ensure that farmers receive fair wages for all of their time and effort. It’s incredibly important that we do our best to support that. Learn more about the importance of supporting fair trade chocolate right here.
With that in mind I made these gluten free vegan brownies using Fair Trade Certified Navitas Organics Raw Cacao Powder and Camino Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, which keeps it healthy with 3 simple ingredients (cane sugar, cacao mass and cacao butter). Chocolaty gluten free vegan brownies that taste amazing, support your well-being and ensure that hard working farmers receive fair waves. It’s all win baby!
Ready to get cooking?
Healthy Gluten Free Vegan Brownies
On top of all of the hearty, nutritious cacao, there’s one other secret ingredient that makes these brownies extra special… Organic Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk. This stuff is the reason these gluten free vegan brownies are moist and smooth. Trust me, you’ll never want to make brownies without it again (I know I don’t!)
Healthy Gluten Free Vegan Brownies
These homemade brownies are the perfect addition to a healthy diet, featuring ingredients like raw cacao powder, semi sweet chocolate chips and gluten free oat flour. Total yum!
- 2 Egg Replacers Like Namaste Foods - You Can Also Use 2 Eggs, but please support ethical farming practices <3
- 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk Like Let's Do Organic
- 1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder Like Navitas Organics
- Scrapings 1 Vanilla Bean Or 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 Generous Pinches Cinnamon
- 1 Pinch Himalayan Pink Salt
- 3/4 Cup Oat Flour
- 1 Cup Coconut Milk Or Plant Milk of Choice
- 1/3 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Optional - I prefer Camino (Keep those Ingredients Healthy)
- 2 Tbsp Pure Canadian Maple Syrup Optional
- Coconut Oil To grease the muffin tin.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grease a standard sized muffin tin with coconut oil.
Prep your vegan eggs (I prefer Namaste Foods egg replacer but flax eggs would work too). Scoop into a large mixing bowl.
Using the tip of a paring knife, cut your vanilla bean lengthwise. Use a small spoon or the edge of your knife to scrape the seeds loose from the bean and add to the bowl. You can also use 1 Tsp of pure vanilla extract if you'd prefer.
Add in the sweetened condensed coconut milk, cinnamon, Himalayan pink salt, raw cacao powder and oat flour. If you want a little extra sweetness add up to 2 Tbsp of maple syrup. Lastly, add in the milk and mix until well blended (this is super easy with a hand mixer but a whisk works well too.)
Semi sweet chocolate chips are a great final addition if you want more chocolate. Keep an eye on the ingredient list in order to keep this dessert healthy. All we need is cacao and a little bit of cane sugar in there. I like to stick with Camino semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix 1/3 Cup in with a spoon if you choose to add them.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the brownies spring back slightly to the touch and pull away from the sides. A fork should come out mostly clean. But make sure not to over cook, because they will lose their moisture and become crumbly.
Remove from the oven and let them cool in the tin for 5 minutes or so before removing them to cool completely on a plate.
Store in an air tight container to keep them fresh for a couple of days or freeze for longer term storage (but I highly doubt theses brownies will survive in your home for very long)
Enjoy the yummies!
Are you excited to get your healthy gluten free vegan brownies on? What dessert would you like to see healthified next? Share your lovely thoughts in the comments below!
Health and love,
Thought of the day: If you look closely even the most simple things can be exciting and beautiful.
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I LOVE all things chocolate so I’m defintiely saving this to use later! Good post! Thanks for sharing!
I couldn’t agree with you more Audrey – Chocolate is everything! I hope you adore the brownies ;). So glad you enjoyed the post <3
These look yum! I love your pics too! 🙂
Thank you tons Kendra! I’m so happy you like them. I hope you treat yourself to a batch. Chocolate is the absolute best, right? 🙂
Emily Hornburg (@eehornburg)
Yes for all of the chocolate!!!! And supporting fair trade companies is SO SO important!
Yes! It truly is! I’m so happy you agree Emily. It’s amazing what a difference we can make simply by making informed shopping choices. We vote with our wallets every single day. And voting fair trade is so awesome! <3
I hope you treat yourself to these delish brownies darling! You can never go wrong with chocolate ^^
OMG I need to cook them ASAP!!!!
I’m so excited for you to try them! Let me know what you think. Chocolate is seriously magical ^^. It’s always a good idea! Enjoy!
Wow! I am definitely going to try making these! <3 I didn't know there was a difference between cocoa and cacao! 🙂 Thanks for informing us! <3 <3 <3
I’d love if you tried them Elly! I wish I could make some for you <3. Isn't cacao simply amazing? I was in awe when I learned about all of the work that goes into making a chocolate bar. I especially adore that it's a fermented food (who knew?) You can never go wrong with fermented goodness! I hope something chocolaty and delicious finds you soon ;)
These look and sound delicious. I can’t wait to try them.
I’m so excited for you to make yourself a batch Mercy! I can’t wait to hear what you think. Enjoy ^^
I just ate dinner but now I am craving chocolate, these look so delicious!
I’m so happy you think the brownies look awesome Nicole! I wish I could share with everyone. Hopefully some chocolate found you and you got to satisfy those cravings ^^.
I’m such a cacao fan, and these look and sound amazing! Can’t wait to try out the recipe!
Cacao is seriously the best Megan! I totally agree. Isn’t it amazing how much work goes into processing the beans and giving us chocolate? It’s awesome. I hope some cacao goodness makes it’s way to you soon. Perhaps in the form of brownies ;). Let me know what you think if you give them a go.
Sounds like a delicious recipe. Raving part is healthy too. I didn’t know about condense coconut milk. Would love to try and thanks for introducing me.
I’m so happy you think so Devajani! Creating healthy desserts is a huge passion of mine. I love to show people that healthy can still be sweet, delicious and feel totally sinful.
I was so excited to discover sweetened condensed coconut milk too. I had no idea it existed and knew I needed to make some brownies with it asap. But I bet there are tons and tons of other possibilities! Let me know what you create with it. 🙂
I never knew all that about raw cocao vs refined! I will have to be on the lookout now. I do usually buy the fairtrade and expensive chocolate because I don’t eat it that often. So, if I’m going to indulge I want it to be worth it and hersheys just isn’t. This recipe looks amazing- so going to give it the mini ones and husband test- can’t wait to try condensed coconut milk <3 Jamie
Isn’t cacao simply amazing! I hope you adore it too. It’s so easy to work into a ton of recipes too ;). Let me know if you want more options <3.
I couldn't agree with you more - when it's chocolate time it's gotta be good. The lower quality stuff just doesn't pack the right punch in the flavour department. What's your favourite chocolate? I'd love to check it out ^^.
I am SO excited for you and your family to try these. I'd love to here what you think. I hope everyone adores them as much as we do.
Have a beautiful weekend hun, full of fun, joy and, hopefully, a little chocolate ^^.
Cacao is something I’ve been wanting to try in my baking. And this recipe looks good! I’ll have to give it a go.
I’m so excited for you to create these Emi! Cacao is so versatile. And it seriously packs an amazing punch in the flavour department. I hope you adore it. I imagine you’ll be creating tons of awesome cacao recipes in no time! <3
ll definately try these!!!
Oh I’m so glad Sihlesenkosi! Enjoy them ^^. I’d love to hear what you think! You can never go wrong with chocolate ;).
They look so good! I will definitely try these!
That’s wonderful Daima! Thank you so much. I hope you adore them ^^. Let me know <3.
Codrut @ Clickfunnels Review
Vegan brownies are my favorites… I’ll get my girlfriend and together we’ll prepare this recipe at home, thanks! 🙂
Aww that sounds like the perfect date night Codrut! My hubby and I love to cook and bake together too. It’s always a blast and the taste testing is seriously the best part, right? I hope you both adore the brownies and have a beautiful weekend together. 🙂
These look amazing!! So interesting also that Raw Cacao has so much magnesium! I had no idea. Totally was just reading another article how the importance of quality ingredients, even when BAKING! So happy to have found your site:)
That makes me so happy to hear Eva! I’m so glad you found me too. Isn’t is amazing how nutritious cacao is? We like to think of chocolate as this sinful dessert, but there’s seriously so much goodness hiding in there. I hope you have fun healthing up some dessert recipes. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you treat yourself to these goodies ^^. Bon appétit!
doing themfor the weekend
That’s wonderful Sihlesenkosi! What did you think? I hope everyone adored them <3
Oh these sound incredible!!! We’ll have to try these this weekend!
I’m so excited for you to try them Ashley! There’s nothing better than chocolate, am I right? I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Chocolate is my favorite! These sound amazing, can’t wait to try them out! Thanks!!
I couldn’t agree with you more Michelle! Chocolate is the best ^^. Hope you adore these. They certainly bring it in the chocolate department xD. Let me know what you think hun! Wishing you a gorgeous day.
Looks delicious! I am trying so hard be vegan but am struggling as I’m finding that I’m becoming very tired all the time 🙁
Hi Lauren! I’m so sorry to hear that. Feeling tired is no fun, especially when it’s perpetual. I think that the most important thing is that we find the right balance for us. I’m actually plant based – while most of what I eat is vegan I don’t like to pigeon hole myself with that label. I believe in eating intuitively and listen to my body. Which means that if my body asks me for eggs I will provide (I actually have a couple of recipes with eggs on here).
But I am 100% against factory farming, so when I need something like that I support a local, organic farm that raises happy, healthy animals (I actually buy most of my veggies from them – total score!) I think everyone can make an ethical impact, whether they’re vegan, vegetarian, plant based, paleo or anything in between. Making an informed choice and supporting ethical farming practices is so important!
However, that doesn’t mean that being vegan doesn’t work and isn’t a great option for some people that makes an incredibly powerful and important global impact. If you’re looking to talk to people who are 100% vegan to see if they have any words of advice I would highly recommend messaging Francesca of Plantifully Based. She is the absolute sweetest and comes up with the most incredible recipes. You can find her on Instagram right here http://www.instagram.com/plantifullybased. Sarah from Sarah and Spices is fantastic too – http://www.instagram.com/sarahandspices. She’s very upbeat and always happy to help.
Ultimately, your health comes first and foremost. If you continue to feel this way it might be a great idea to speak with your doctor or a nutritionist to make sure that you are getting all of the nutrients you wonderful body needs. It can be hard to make an adjustment like this, a nutritionist might have some awesome tips.
Wishing you the best. Keep in touch and let me know how you make out! I am sending tons of love and healing vibes your way <3
I want to make these brownies next week! Is there a brand of oat flour you recommend?
I personally adore Only Oats! The reason is because they’re certified gluten free (which is really awesome when you have celiac disease or an extreme gluten sensitivity! Yay!) Here they are on Amazon in case you want to see what they look like https://amzn.to/2Ibdwf0. I’m sure that there are tons of other awesome brands out there too. If gluten isn’t a concern you don’t necessarily have to be concerned about the certification ^^.
I hope you adore them! Let me know what you think darling <3
Thanks! I will!
Those look so delish!!! Pinning to try them out later!
I’m so glad Taylor! I hope you adore them. Chocolate is never a bad idea ^^. Let me know what you think <3
OH MY GOSH these sound unreal!! I usually try to follow a vegan diet (except eggs… can’t give those up!!) so I am DEFINITELY going to try making these. They look scrumptious!
xox Kirsten // http://kirstenwendlandt.com/must-see-the-canadian-opera-companys-anna-bolena/
That’s awesome Kirsten! I am the same way. I’m Plant Based. I want to allow myself to eat intuitively, so if my body does ask me for eggs I will provide. But I don’t eat them too often (it’s important not to load up on iodine when you have Graves Disease unfortunately ><). I think the most important thing is that everyone supports local, ethical farming practices and makes sure that the farms are raising happy, healthy animals who have space to run and be themselves, whether they're vegan or omnivores or anything in between (since a lot of farms who grow veggies raise animals too). We vote with our wallets after all! Total passion tangent aside haha, I am so excited for you to try these. I hope you adore them. I would be so happy to hear your thoughts. Wishing you a marvelous day full of joy and good food ^^