By Katie Mae Stanley, Contributing Writer
Soft, rich brownies, with chunks of chocolate, so tasty that you would never think they were grain-free.
Brownies make the world a better place. Let’s face it, it’s truth. Brownies are chocolate. Chocolate is full of magnesium. And when people have enough magnesium they feel better. Especially when those people are women because there is at least one week a month when we gals need even more magnesium. If we have enough magnesium we feel better and we will find it easier to treat people with kindness. And as a result, the world will be a better place. So basically chocolate = world peace.
Now back to the point of all of this, brownies. Specifically, those soft, rich grain-free ones that I was talking about.
Now you might be thinking, how can those words even belong together? You are probably having flashbacks to the grain-free brownies that you made when you first jumped into the real food movement. They had a secret ingredient that no one was supposed to guess. You know the ones, “the magical fruit” kind…
Yes, the infamous black bean brownies. You know you made them, I did too. You tried to convince yourself that they were the same as the white flour, white sugar kind, but they weren’t.
Try as you might, they just weren’t the same. At first, I thought they weren’t so bad. I even tricked some guests with them, who loved them but confessed to not feeling so comfortable. If you know what I mean. (Okay, enough with the TMI.)
After awhile, all I could think was “I am eating sweet, baked, refried beans with chocolate”.
These grain-free brownies are not that. Not even close. They aren’t even made with almond or coconut flour, which is often the norm. There is no nut butter, they aren’t even made with just cocoa powder. The flour in these brownies is cassava flour. It is made from the root of the Cassava or Yuca plant that grows Mexico and many other parts of the world.
The cassava root is a pretty amazing and useful food. It is used to make tapioca (think tapioca pudding), tapioca starch, and cassava flour to name a few. One of the best things about cassava flour is that it is easier to swap out for traditional wheat flour than your typical gluten/grain-free flours. Using cassava flour also saves you from having to create a blend with multiple different flours.
Cassava flour is a resistant starch, which is a type of prebiotic. Prebiotics are food for probiotics in the gut.
The good gut flora eats the resistant starch, and in turn, produces butyrate. The T-cells in your body eat the butyrate, helping them to fight against pathogens, antigens, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. So the more foods with resistant starch you eat, the more T-cells your body will create. As we age our body produces less T-cells, so eating foods with prebiotics is important. (Source)
I lived in Mexico for 10 years in my late teens and twenties, where there were a few cassava plants near my house. It’s a good thing that I didn’t know how amazing they were then, otherwise, the plants may have been history.
In reality, it would have been WAY too much work to try and make my own cassava flour. It’s better to leave that job to the professionals.
Brownies are never going to be a health food but it’s always nice to know that you are doing your body a favor by feeding it good food along with the sugar. This recipe calls for unrefined sugar… sucanat, rapadura, and coconut sugar are all good options, but unrefined white sugar works as well and is more budget friendly. It is also what I used for creating this recipe. Use whatever sugar you have on hand.
Grain-free Cassava Flour Brownies
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (176 C). Grease an 8x8 glass baking dish. Line the dish with parchment paper, leaving enough hanging over the sides to lift the brownies out when after the are baked.
- In a small glass bowl melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and all the coconut oil over a pot of boiling water or in the microwave. Stir occasionally to achieve a smooth texture.
- In a separate medium sized bowl mix the sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer or in stand mixer on high for one minute,
- After one minute slowly pour in the chocolate and oil mixture. Mix for another minute.
- Reduce the speed to low and slow mix in the cocoa powder, cassava flour (minus the 1 tablespoon), and the salt. Scrape down the sides with a spatula if needed.
- Toss the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips with the 1 tablespoon of cassava flour. This will help them not sink to the bottom of the brownies. Gently fold them into the batter with a spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Pull the parchment paper up by the sides to place the brownies on the counter to cut.