Smart Sweets

Though self-prescribed with good intentions, a striking majority of New Year’s resolutions are imagined in a world of extremes. Everything is painted in black and white; there is success and failure, productivity and laziness, good or bad foods. The temptation to simplify the complex “rules” of the road is great for those most desperate for change, especially when so much mainstream advice points in that very direction. What excitement is there in moderation? How could you sell anything based on common sense?

Quite frankly, I’m sick of this all-or-nothing approach. Resolutions themselves are not the problem, but the way society holds us to them. Friends, I’m not expert on the matter, but if you want my advice, I think we should make a bit more room in this renewed healthy eating regimen for chocolate.

As with all healthy eating choices, quality is absolutely essential for success, which is exactly what Vega has built their reputation on. Though best known for their powdered protein and meal-replacement shakes, I was naturally drawn more to their enticing array of snacking selections. Given the opportunity to investigate these unsung heroes further, I knew from the start that it would somehow end in a deceptively decadent dessert. Maca Chocolate Bars provided the real inspiration, with their gently earthy, mineral-y quality and slightly bitter edge calling out for a touch more sweetness to round out the deep cacao flavors. Lovers of deep, dark, serious chocolate would love them as is, but for someone coming off of a holiday sugar high, I must admit that my palate calls for something a bit less intense.

Incorporating the brilliantly “Karamelized” SaviSeed, roasted and sugar-coated Inca peanuts, for a satisfying crunch, Nava Atlas’ fool-proof recipe for unbaked brownies seemed custom made for just these ingredients. A few easy substitutions yielded the tastiest, yet healthiest, raw brownie that has ever passed my lips. As the original formula proves, however, no specialty ingredients need apply; switch up the fruits, nuts, and chocolate for equally delicious treats that will help keep your resolutions on track. I’ve successfully used raisins instead of prunes, almonds instead of cashews, and regular dark chocolate, in additional to Nava’s suggestions, all to the same enthusiastic reception. You have my sweet-toothed word that they don’t taste the least bit like “health food,” and you will never regret savoring that one extra square.

Mega Maca Brownies
Adapted from Nava Atlas’ Unbaked Fudgy Brownies from Plant Power

1 Cup Raw Cashews
1 Cup Pitted Prunes
3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
4 (1.4 Ounce) Maca Chocolate Bars, Finely Chopped, Divided
1/4 Cup Sacha Inchi, Roughly Chopped

Place the cashews in your food processor and pulse until ground to a fine powder. Add in the prunes, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, and half of the chopped chocolate. Pulse once more to incorporate, processing until the mixture holds together when pressed. Be patient, as this may take a few minutes.

Add the remaining chocolate along with the sacha inchi and pulse just briefly to distribute the goodies throughout the mixture. These final additions should be roughly chopped but still easily visible. You don’t want to puree the whole thing, since it’s much more satisfying with a bit of texture left in it.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased 8 x 8-inch square pan. Use a wide spatula to press it evenly into the bottom before stashing it in the fridge. Chill for at least an hour before slicing and serving. Keep leftovers covered and stored in the refrigerator for no more than a week, or in the freezer for up to a month.

Makes 12 – 16 Servings

Printable Recipe

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12 thoughts on “Smart Sweets

  1. Ok, you twisted my arm. I’ll add chocolate to my New Year’s resolution list. Oh, wait. I don’t have a list. But I do have chocolate (dark) on my list all the time and this recipe sounds delish! As for moderation, I love it (moderately)! :-)

    janet

  2. Ooh love how you incorporated prunes into these brownies. Looks like perfect way to start the year!

    I always believe in eating in moderation and I don’t think anyone should give up chocolate entirely!

  3. There’s no regimen worth adhering too if it doesn’t make room for chocolate. Sadly, there are no maca chocolate bars where I live, or sacha inchi, but oh how I wish there was…

  4. Gorgeousness personified. I might not be able to access those chocolate bars or the wild peanuts (or whatever else they are ;) ) but I figure these babies would be almost as delicious with regular vegan chocolate bars and peanuts. I think (especially we vegans), we have become very pretentious about food. It has become a political vehicle to be manipulated rather than what it is, something to feed our bodies. It is admirable to want to feed ourselves without doing harm to our fellow animals and to the environment/world around us but when we start limiting and counting and elevating ourselves above others by only eating and buying specific genres of food we are choosing to alienate ourselves from a wide world of ingredients that are just as nutritious and good for us, albeit not “trending” ;). Kudos on wafting chocolate around again. How many righteous and indignant people prothlesise about abstinence and denial loudly whilst keeping a secret stash for when no-one is looking ;). Well done on giving us a healthy chocolate indulgence that we can eat with a cuppa and feel good about. Mine might be only regular chocolate and peanuts but it is most certainly going to taste amazing. Well done on another borderline bolshie post Ms Hannah, you are keeping it real :)

  5. I love this post! I also appreciate the quality snacks that Vega endorses, and obviously, love their nutritious shakes. We all need a little chocolate in our life. Thanks for sharing :) – Lizzie

  6. I’ve had both of those products before, but never would have thought to combine them in that way. So creative :)

    I’m with you- all or nothing sucks. Let’s just all find a balance that works for us and be happy and satisfied. Yes?

  7. I llooooooovvvveee raw brownies & love that you used pitted pruned instead of dates! I prefer to use insulphured dried apricots for sweeteness!

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