Drop the sugar, up the goodness: healthy snacks, desserts and cakes that don't compromise on taste.
Not going to lie: I love cake. One of the biggest challenges of consistent healthy eating is to resist the temptation of sugary treats. Of course I eat them – occasionally. But cutting down on sugar has done so much good for my health – happier stomach, clearer skin, no more insane blood sugar fluctuations – and I’d like to keep it that way. I can’t go long without sweet treats though, so to prevent the inevitable sugar binge I have integrated a load of healthy sweet alternatives into my daily diet.
One of them is this brilliant cake alternative, which is not just utterly delicious but also incredibly versatile. I always have a batch in the fridge and rely on them for my daily afternoon snack – you know, that 3pm low in the office when everyone gets their Snickers out and you’re just dying for a quick energy boost.
These brownies are based on chickpeas, dates, nut butter and oats, making them vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free. My version is medium sweet, so if you have a very sweet tooth just up the amount of agave nectar a bit. You can also add chopped nuts, a mashed banana, a couple of shots of espresso or chocolate chunks to jazz things up a bit.
The recipe is very flexible and has already evolved into an exciting range of other cakes. My favourite variations so far are apple and cinnamon cake, spiced carrot cake and a total showstopper of a vanilla protein blondie. My friend took the basic recipe and turned it into a spiced pumpkin cake, and is also experimenting with a savoury version. This cake offers a lot of room for experiments.
So give it a try and get creative, throw in your own ideas and let me know in the comments if you come up with new variations!
THE BEST HEALTHY BROWNIES
Makes one 24cm square tin – ca 16 brownies
1 can (240g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
40g agave nectar
50g peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 tsp baking powder*
250ml milk alternative (I use Oatly or Koko, but almond milk works too)
1 tsp coconut oil for the tin
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Brush a 24cm square (or equivalent size) brownie tin with coconut oil.
Put the oats in a food processor and blitz until they are finely ground. Add all the other ingredients and process everything into a smooth mixture.
Fill the mixture in to the brownie tin, spread evenly, and bake at 175°C for around 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. It’s ok if you still get a slight wobble in the middle; that will ensure you get a brownie-like consistency.
Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares or slices.
Keeps in the fridge up to one week. (They might keep longer but I haven’t tested that as they never survive more than a week in my fridge!)
* To ensure the cake is gluten-free us GF-certified oats and baking powder.