Want to Make Your 4th Of July Weekend Celebration a Little Sweeter?

Happy 4th of July!

The Fourth of July is a great excuse to get outside, enjoy friends and family and eat good food. Bar-b-que, corn, potato salads are the typical go to, but what about dessert? We know the expression “American as apple pie.” But did you know brownies originated in America as well? 

The story goes something like this: Bertha Palmer, the wife of Palmer House Hotel owner Potter Palmer, was president of the Ladies Board for Managers for the Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition of 1893. When organizers of the event asked her to create a dessert especially for the boxed lunches at the Women’s Pavilion, Palmer went to her hotel’s pastry chefs and gave them the task of creating a dessert that was easier to eat than a piece of pie and smaller than a layer cake that could easily be served in boxed lunches. They ended up with a dessert that had double the chocolate of what we now know as brownies, walnuts and an apricot glaze, (which you can still order at the restaurant.)

Though no one knows for sure where the name originated from, what we do know is brownies are one of American’s favorite desserts. If you’re a chocolate lover, you know why. They are rich, gooey and decadent. Along with that, they are easy to make and and a great dessert food for picnics and social gatherings. But did you know that the all cocoa powder in them is also good for you?! 

Most chocolate lovers would agree that eating chocolate improves your mood, but many are unaware of the other benefits of adding cocoa into your diet. We know from the magnesium post that chocolate is high in magnesium, which has many health benefits, but cocoa is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals play a role in heart disease and cancer. Therefore, by eating chocolate it helps with preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other diseases. As well, all the fiber in chocolate is great way to ward of constipation and help regulate blood sugar. In fact, some doctors are recommending to add cocoa-based products in daily diet to help improve insulin resistance and hypermetabolism of glucose in your body. 

The problem is cocoa is very bitter and to offset that bitterness we combine it with a lot of sugar. (We will discuss the harmful effects of sugar in another post.) So how do we get all the benefits of cocoa without all the negative side effects of sugar? Just like Ms. Palmer did, we have to be a little creative. Adding a little bit of cinnamon, maple syrup and honey helps cut the bitterness and are all better alternatives to white sugar. Eating dark chocolate also has less sugar. However, the other issue is the over processed flour that is mixed in with baked goods which, when eaten, is a simple carbohydrate and reads like sugar in your body. So today I’d like to propose a healthy alternative to the sugar and carb heavy brownies. Instead, these brownies use zucchini and almond butter. Wait, don’t go. I bet these brownies will hands down beat any box mix and be like fireworks of flavor in your mouth!

Zucchini brownies

  • 1 cup almond butter (peanut butter works as well)

  • 1 1/2 cup zucchini (finely grated)

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey

  • 1/3 cup raw cocoa

  • 1 egg or a flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water) *Notes

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Grate zucchini into a medium size bowl. *see note.

  2. Add all the remaining ingredients but the chocolate chips. Mix well.

  3. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.

  4. Pour into a greased a 9x9 pan and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.

  5. Let cool and enjoy!


If using a flax egg make this first and set aside.

I’ve used both a food processor and a grater. I found the grater overall produces better results. As well, depending on how cake like you want your brownies, you will need to squeeze the excess water from the zucchini. For gooey brownies leave more water.

Recipe adapted from http://www.delightedmomma.com/2012/05/flourless-zucchini-brownies.html

Heather Schwarm