My sweet step-daughter went to library last Friday and saw a cookbook that she got so excited to bring me. We had been planning to make Valentine’s day treats together, but I planned on making healthy ones. She saw that this book had Valentine’s day treats and they looked tasty to her. She got so excited about a red velvet brownie recipe she saw. For a second I panicked, not knowing how to tell her I was not going to make the recipe as a treat, but then, I saw it as a great challenge. Why not, make it, but with healthier ingredients? I do that all the time!
As parents in the modern world, it is not reasonable to deny children treats, and quite frankly, I don’t think it’s healthy. I think providing healthier options of treats on a regular basis helps children satisfy their cravings and prevents them from binging on junk. It teaches them about balance and how to make better choices in the real world.
Plus, the substituted ingredients are packed with nutrition. So, why not indulge, even if your blood sugar spikes and dips a little! This is still a treat and shouldn’t be eaten in place of a balanced diet, but why not eat treats that serve your body? Plus, cooking in the kitchen with kids is a great way to spend time with them and help them learn about cooking. I truly believe it is a gift to kids to teach them about healthy eating and cooking.
Here is the original recipe she brought home from Fun Stuff Holiday Treats:
- red velvet cake mix (18 oz package) – typically contains refined, bleached wheat flour, sugar, preservatives, flavors, emulsifiers, etc.
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup butter (softened)
Not the best ingredients, right? And the picture had crazy big sugar decorations too.
Full disclosure, I didn’t want to waste the time figuring out the conversions for the “cake mix” ingredients, so I searched for an existing red velvet brownie recipe here and changed it’s ingredients. Substituting and changing recipes is much more my forte then creating new baking recipes!
Here is my revised recipe:
- 1 1/4 cup grass-fed butter
- 2 1/2 cups granulated monk fruit or coconut sugar
- 2 1/2 cups cassava flour
- 4 pasture-raised eggs
- 1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- natural red food coloring (use to desired coloring – I used most of 1 bottle)
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6-8 dates (depending on how sweet you want it)
- 1/2 cup grass-fed butter (softened)
- 8 oz grass-fed cream cheese
- 2 tsp vanilla
- natural sprinkles (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350◦F. Butter a 9×13 pan or your heart shaped baking cups.
2. Mix butter, monk fruit, and cocoa powder together until smooth.
3. Then, add the eggs, and mix until smooth.
4. Add the vanilla, food coloring, salt, and coconut milk.
5. Add the flour.
6. Add the pecans if desired.
7. Add the batter to the pan.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes if you are baking in a 9×13 pan or 20 min. in cupcake tins.
9. For the frosting, soften the butter, and blend with the dates until the mixture is smooth.
10. Add in the cream cheese (you may need to soften this as well to have it blend nicely) and vanilla. Blend, and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
11. When your brownies are cool, frost them and add your sprinkles.
Now, let’s briefly talk about some of the benefits of our upgraded ingredients and the nutrition packed within these delicious brownies.
- lower in fat and calories that other flours (including wheat)
- can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio for wheat flour
- no off flavors or textures that make you notice a different ingredient was used,
- healthy carbohydrates, which are needed for energy and adrenal health
- vitamin C – important for immunity and adrenal health
- magnesium- works with D and K2 to put calcium in the right place for strong bones, brain health, digestion, reduces some PMS symptoms
Grass-fed butter and cream cheese
- should I mention my favorite vitamins A, D, and K2, again? These amazing vitamins are key to help us have strong bones, functioning brains, and on point nervous systems. If you want to learn more, you should probably subscribe because I can’t say enough good things about these vitamins. 🙂
- lower glycemic (less of a blood sugar spike than refined sugar)
- no calories, no effect on blood sugar
- vitamin C – increases cell detoxification and repair
Dates – absolutely my favorite sweetener!
- fiber – slows down blood sugar spike
- potassium – promotes electrolyte balance, especially for athletes
- contains medium-chain triglycerides that promote fat burning and lower inflammation
- plant based source of iron
Why switch to natural colors and sprinkles?
- Avoiding refined sugar
- Avoiding chemicals
- Many people have sensitivities to these unnatural colors
- Confectioner’s glaze…yeah, that is sourced from lac beetle. Ew. Enough said.
Have other recipes you want to substitute ingredients for? Check out some of these ideas. It is hard to sometimes know when to use these ingredients, so if you have questions, contact me!
Other Substitutions Ideas for Ingredients:
Sweeteners: dates, monk fruit, coconut sugar, raw honey
Flours: cassava, green banana, coconut, almond
Or, if you would like your own favorite recipe, converted to a healthier, more nutrient dense version, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org