Amy Palanjian

Healthy Fudgy Brownies: A No-Guilt Kid Treat

As a mama to a very strongly opinionated 20-month old girl named Linden, I spent a lot of time each day thinking about the food she eats. And while she’ll most often pass up cookies or other sweets in favor of salty crackers, she adores chocolate, which she lovingly refers to as “choc-O!”. So when we were invited to a family Valentine’s Day party with her little friends, I decided to take on the challenge of baking decadent brownies that are both deliciously chocolatey and healthy enough to feed to small kiddos without too much worry about sugar shock.

healthy fudgy brownies

I’m not at all opposed to treats in moderation, but since I try to let Linden decide what and how much to eat of the food that I give to her, I like to start from a healthier place. I find that this is especially helpful when there is a group of kids together because they often like to eat what their friends are eating, whether that be broccoli or cookies. And while I know that Valentine’s Day is very much about indulging in chocolate, I love how simple it is to change a classic recipe just enough to alleviate any potential mama-guilt.

You can make healthy updates to most any brownie recipe, such as swapping in whole-wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose, cutting down the sugar, and using heart-healthy nuts such as walnuts. We made some of those updates to the version here, which is based off of this recipe for Ultimate Brownies, but we took it one step even father by using a chia seed slurry in place of half of the butter.

ultimate brownies

If you’re new to chia seeds, they are tiny black seeds that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, often called “good fats”, and fiber. And when mixed with water and allowed to sit, they turn into a gel that can serve as a butter or egg replacement in baked goods. Swapping in chia seeds for some of the butter cuts down on both the saturated fat and overall calories, turning this into a dessert that can double as a satisfying dessert for kids and chocolate lovers everywhere. I made a batch of these brownies so that we could taste test them to ensure their deliciousness and the chorus of “Mmmmm!” that came from Linden after she had her first bite basically summed it up. This recipe is going to be in regular rotation in our house, and I’m definitely going to bake another batch to bring to the Valentine’s Day party!

Whole Wheat Fudgy Brownies with Chia Seeds

This recipe has half of the sugar and butter in traditional brownie recipes, and features whole wheat flour and heart-healthy chia seeds. You can use 1 cup of sugar if you like a sweeter brownie.

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds, optional
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, optional
  1. In a small bowl combine the chia seeds and water and stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 6 to 12 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium saucepan combine butter and chocolate. Heat chocolate and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  3. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking pan; set aside. Stir sugar into cooled chocolate mixture in the saucepan. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon until just combined. Stir in vanilla and half of the reserved chia seed slurry.*
  4. In a small bowl stir together flour and baking soda. Add to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined. Add in nuts and chocolate. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 bars or circles to serve. Decorate with powdered sugar hearts, if desired.

*Add leftover chia seed slurry to a smoothie or morning oatmeal for an easy boost of good and satisfying fats.

powdered sugar

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