Thursday, September 27, 2012

Healthy Zucchini Brownies (Paleo)

  The "usual" brownie recipe contains butter, cups of sugar, oil, eggs, cocoa powder, and flour. This brownie recipe doesn't contain any of the above except 1 egg.  Some might argue that this dessert isn't a "brownie"  because the batter doesn't contain cocoa powder or melted chocolate, just chocolate chips that melt when baking. Some might categorize this as a healthy blondie, chocolate chip zucchini bread,  or a snack cake which is okay.

   I found this recipe about a week ago when searching from a healthy chocolate recipe. The more I searched for chocolate recipes that contained zucchini, the more I discovered that a lot of people have made this recipe and blogged about it. I noticed that in some pictures, the brownies were more of a golden brown color instead of the rich, chocolate brown in the original picture. For a second I thought about adding some cocoa into the batter thinking it may not be chocolaty enough, but decided against it to try how I liked the original recipe as is first and I'm glad I did. I did add 2 tablespoons of mini chocolate chip on the top of the brownies since it was all that was leftover from another recipe. 

  The chocolate chips give these brownies a rich, smooth chocolate taste that pairs well with the light sweetness from the raw honey, and hint cinnamon gives the brownies extra depth. Unlike some recipes with almond butter, these brownies don't have a grainy texture; they actually are incredibly moist from the zucchini and hard to believe they have no type of flour as a binder. So even if you don't have to follow any special dietary restrictions this recipe is a good and healthy change from other desserts. 

Healthy Zucchini Brownies (Paleo)
9x9 pan

1 cup almond butter
1 1/2 cup zucchini (1 2/3 small zucchini), cleaned & grated
1/3 cup raw honey
1 egg (or a "flax egg")
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg *
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp mini chocolate chips for topping, optional

*If you have ground nutmeg then the recipes says to use 1/2 tsp. We only keep whole nutmeg that we grate when needed (the flavor lasts longer and is fresher) which like most spices are stronger when fresh so I just grated a little bit of fresh nutmeg in the batter without measuring. 

>Small specks of green from the zucchini skins are visible so If you want to be sneaky and not let anyone know there is zucchini, you can peel before grating.

>The chocolate chips will sink to the bottom (some people hate when this happens- I really didn't mind since there were mini chocolate chips on top) so you could toss 1 tbsp of gluten free (or regular if not gluten intolerant) all purpose flour in a separate bowl with the 1 cup of chocolate chips before adding it into the batter. This will help keep the most of the chocolate suspended in the batter while cooking.

>> I also try to have the ingredients for a recipe on hand, but sometimes have to sub in other ingredients. I strongly advise to always try a recipe as written first to know how it's suppose to taste and then go from there if you want to change things. Some people (comments I read) almost completely changed the recipe by using peanut butter, agave nectar, reduced the cinnamon, left out the nutmeg, and/or used cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips instead of the original ingredients.

1. Preheat oven to 350F & line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper or lightly grease.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the almond butter, honey, egg, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg using an electric beater until blended (the batter will be thick, don't worry).
3. Stir in the zucchini and 1 cup of chocolate chips until incorporated -the batter will loosen up since the zucchini contains a lot of moisture.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips, and bake for 35-45 minutes.
5.Let the pan cool for about 20 minutes on a wire rack before grabbing the parchment paper and lifting it brownies out of the pan to finish cooling on the rack.
These are good at room tempature or zapped in the microwave for a few seconds.


  1. I'm loving these zucchini baking recipes I see all over right now! I ended up with two huge zucchinis from a farm trip the other day, and I definitely know how I'm going to use them now =)

  2. Just wondering if there was a sub for the nut butter...say pumpkin or something lower in calories and fat?

    1. You could try sunflower seed butter. I think pumpkin would work well and taste good in this recipe though the batter may be a little thinner. Let me know if it works out for you :)

  3. Yum!!! Those look so delicious!

  4. Had to pin this - can't wait to make these. My brother is on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and he could totally do this, minus the chocolate.


  5. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next..

    healthly meals

  6. I made these using the flax mixture ,they were awesome! So good we ate them in one day.Thanks for an awesome recipe. I'm using the flax mixture instead of eggs for now on in my baking.What else can be used to replace chips/cocoa?

  7. Anonymous: I sometimes use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips which are gluten/dairy/soy/egg/wheat free. You could also use raw carob nibs/powder.

  8. I made these for my 8 yrs old boy. I used Enjoy Life Chips for his dairy allergy. He devoured the brownies and asked me to make them again a few days later! ;). Awesome recipe!! Thank you, so much. ;)

  9. A CUP of Almond Butter -
    Yikes that's a lot !

  10. Made these for the second time! So super excited to give them to my Homeroom teacher cause she eats paleo! Yes I'm that kid aha :)

    Mine turned out great, even though I had some oven temp & under-cooking issues...
    Used all organic ingredients...added about 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts. I also used (of the 1/3 cup honey) about half honey & half coconut sugar crystals and about 1 TBSP of maple syrup (for taste). Since we're all organic, I'm going to try finding mini chocolate chips that are organic, though I could just finely chop chilled organic dark chocolate (more work but might be worth it!), or make a chocolate glaze or frosting for the top.

    If anyone knows where to find organic mini chocolate chips, please post the website or link.

    NOTE on ovens/chocolate chips: My chocolate chips did sink and the center cooked much slower than the sides (glass bake pan). I suspect with a ceramic bake pan and small chocolate chips we might solve this problem. A tooth-pick came out clean after 45 minutes baking at 350 (though need to verify my oven temp accuracy), so I removed the brownies, only to discover once I cut (sat for 20 minutes) into them that the center was under-done. So I baked for longer and they still came out good.

    TASTE GREAT! I'll use again and experiment! Also, my husband loves them & he's particular about organic, healthy food still tasting great. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Absolutely delicious. Was craving for a midnight snack and what a great way to help with your chocolate cravings. Delicious chewy and chocolaty, will definitely be making this again. Thank you for the recipe Healthy Brownie Recipes | Keep Healthy Living :)