A dessert fit for a hunter-gatherer? Although cavemen didn’t have ovens and whiskers, the ingredients in this Paleo Brownies Recipe totally falls in line with modern low-carb diet standards.
Can Brownies Be Paleo?
How can brownies be Paleo-friendly?
Ditch the processed white sugar. And don’t use white flour.
Instead, make desserts with coconut and almond flour.
I sweeten these special-occasion treats with maple syrup.
Why maple syrup? After all, isn’t it high in sugar.
Yes, maple syrup does contain lots of carbs. In fact, a half cup contains over 100 grams of carbs!
So why would I, as someone who also runs a low carb recipe blog, sweeten this Paleo brownies recipe with such an insulin-spiking ingredient?
And how can this confection be considered Paleo when there’s well over 100 grams of sugar?
Maple Syrup: Natural, Not As Bad For You As You Might Think
Let’s answer the first question.
According to this article, researchers have discovered something very interesting about maple. At least in lab animals, it doesn’t cause the same spike in blood insulin levels as some other sugars.
Does that mean you can pour a whole bottle of it on your low carb pancakes? Of course not.
But the benefits of it–when used in moderation–may far exceed the dangers of its high carb content.
For instance, it’s very high in minerals. Take for example, calcium and iron. Maple provides over 20% daily value of these per cup.
Of course, you’re much better off getting your daily dose of these two from green leafy veggies. And dark chocolate, for the latter.
Furthermore, it’s super high in manganese (almost 600% daily value per cup).
Of the many important roles the trace mineral plays, it’s the ability of manganese to fight diabetes that’s the most relevant to this Paleo brownies recipe.
A high carb sweetener that’s good for you?
In this study, for three months, mice were given manganese. The results? The mice had better glucose tolerance.
Also, they were better able to secrete insulin. Their fat cells weren’t as damaged and their cellular function was better.
Maple syrup, despite the high carb content, is thought to have a positive effect on metabolic syndrome.
A couple examples of metabolic syndrome are obesity and diabetes. Researchers that study how nutrients affect the body’s DNA, are especially interested in how maple syrup can turn off genes that express metabolic dysfunction.
A few more selling point for maple syrup….
It’s also high in zinc and potassium. Many people are deficient in these two trace minerals.
Maple syrup, it turns out has a similar antioxidant profile to red wine, berries, tea and flaxseeds.
And to date, researchers have discovered over 60 different plant nutrients in maple syrup.
Does Paleo = Low Sugar?
Let’s answer the second question from above….
Can this Paleo brownies recipe truly be considered Paleo if it contains a high-carb sweetener?
The answer: yes and no.
Yes in the sense that Paleo doesn’t always mean ultra low carb.
Let’s look at humanity’s primordial eating patterns to explain. While foraging for food, our distant ancestors may have come across wild berries.
Now granted, berries are relatively low in sugar in comparison to other fruits.
However, during the Paleolithic era, from which the term Paleo comes from, hunter gatherers most likely feasted on berries whenever possible.
Storage and preservation methods didn’t exist, at least not like they do today.
In light of this, primordial peoples would have wanted to consumer as much as possible because they didn’t know when the next opportunity to feast would occur.
Furthermore, fruit foraging wasn’t limited to berries. In more tropical climates, it’s likely that hunter-gatherers feasted on higher-sugar fruits such as bananas and mangoes.
However, no, this Paleo brownies recipe doesn’t meet the true definition of a primordial, Paleolithic diet. But very foods today meet a strict definition of ancient Paleo.
The true purpose of eating Paleo is to avoid as much as possible all foods and drinks that may trigger inflammation.
I also use almond butter. If you’ve never made your own, read this post I wrote about it. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth the potential mess of making your own.
But I recommend you do try and make your own almond butter. It might take some trial and error.
Eventually, though, your effort will be rewarded. Think about all that money you’ll save.
It’ll be a breeze to make other healthy desserts like these homemade Paleo protein bars.
Coconut and almond flours provide essential fatty acids, protein and other nutrients, including fiber. They’re also low in net carbs.
You’ll see I also add cacao powder to the Paleo brownies recipe. For optimum nutrition and to make it as Paleo as possible, choose a powder that’s raw.
In fact, you might see it listed as cacao powder. The difference between “cocoa” and “cacao” is that the latter, in powder form, is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans.
The cold-processing technique preserves the nutrients and enzymes. On the other hand, cocoa powder isn’t as nutritious because of the high cooking temperature.
Paleo brownies recipe vs Regular Brownies
You already know that my version is very high in minerals. In comparison, regular brownies made with white flour and white sugar offer little nutrition.
In fact, according to Self Magazine’s Nutrition Data tracker, there’s not one mineral that contains double digit percentage points of the daily value.
Another reason why regular brownies don’t meet the definition of Paleo is they are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. The chart on Self Magazine says that there’s 10 times the amount of omega-6s as omega-3s.
That’s a big problem because getting too many 6’s and not enough 3’s can lead to inflammation and health problems.
(Read this to understand what’s the best ratio of omega fatty acids.)
So there you have it, reasons why you can enjoy a Paleo brownie every now and then without feeling guilty.
Paleo Brownies with Paleo Chocolate
Yield 16 brownies
Although cavemen didn't have ovens and whiskers, the ingredients in these paleo friendly brownies totally falls in line with modern low-carb diet standards.
- ½ Cup Almond Flour
- ¼ Cup Coconut Flour
- ¼ Cup Cacao Powder
- ½ Tsp. Baking Soda
- ½ Cup Maple Syrup
- ½ Tsp. Sea Salt
- ¼ Tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ½ Cup Almond Butter (melted)
- ½ Cup Coconut Oil (melted)
- 2 Large Eggs
Paleo Chocolate Drizzle:
- 4 Ounces Paleo Chocolate (chopped)
- ¼ Cup Coconut Oil
- First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and line an 8x8 in. baking dish with parchment paper (or use non-stick spray).
- Next, in a stand mixer, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Give everything a quick whisk to mix the ingredients together.
- Now, add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, coconut oil, almond butter, and eggs to the dry ingredients.
- Then, mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until all the batter is smooth.
- Last, pour the brownie batter into the baking dish and place into the 20-30 minutes or until the brownies are done in the center. (place a toothpick into the center of the brownies and if it comes out clean, then the brownies are done).
Paleo Chocolate Drizzle:
First, while the brownies cook, combine the chopped chocolate and coconut oil in a medium saucepan.
Next, melt the chocolate over medium-low heat. Keep stirring the mixture so it doesn’t burn.
Last, once the chocolate is smooth and cream, drizzle it over the cooked brownies.
Brownies can be stored in a seal container for up to 3 days. Refrigeration is not needed.
- For an egg-free option, try substituting 2 “flax eggs,” for the large eggs.
- Try using fresh mint in the brownies for a seasonal twist on the recipe.
- If you wish not to use vanilla extract, then split and scrape one vanilla bean into the batter.
Net Carbs per Serving: 9.06
Serving Size 1 Brownie
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 20 g
Saturated Fat 11 g
Cholesterol 20 mg
Sodium 116 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 8 g
Protein 4 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.