Brownie Bites - Warning: you will yum when you eat them

The other day while watching the Today Show and Keri Glassman, RD discussed using an avocado in a brownie. I love being creative in the kitchen so I thought this would be a great idea for the Hammerhead Tri club holiday party (which included a cookie contest).

Like usual, when I see a food or meal that inspires me, it's typically from the Internet or in a cookbook or magazine. Aside from baking, I'm not one to follow recipes (thus why I call my meals "creations") and I rarely measure food. As a dietitian and athlete, I see food for fuel and nourishment (and pleasure) and that makes me enjoy the cooking process as well as meal time.

The majority of my meals are simply inspiration from real food and the final product is nothing more than putting several foods together for a balanced meal that's filled with flavor.  But because baking is a science and leaves little room for my creative mind, I needed a delicious avocado brownie recipe so I searched the Internet.

I couldn't believe what I saw when I googled AVOCADO BROWNIE.

Now I know that with my many titles "Dietitian, exercise physiologist, vegetarian, triathlon coach, clinical RD" I may mislead some individuals but I try very hard to be as consistent as possible with my philosophy on training, life and eating as well as how I go about educating, inspiring and motivating others. But, because I titled myself a "vegetarian" when I was 10 years old because I didn't want to kill animals, this is an area where I may come across as one-sided when it comes to the diet.

But I do not think of my diet as "meat free." Despire promoting a plant strong diet for health and environmental reasons, I don't force anyone to be called a "vegetarian." Karel is not a vegetarian, my parents are not vegetarians and we all get along just fine around food. You won't find me talking about my recipes as "meat-free" but instead "plant strong." I really don't like titling the diet but instead thinking of it as a lifestyle. I feel my "vegetarian" diet is my lifestyle because in 21 years of not eating meat I also feel I am protecting the environment, showing my love for animals (and all creatures), protecting my health and reducing risk for disease and fueling my lifestyle. But I don't believe that we as a society need a title as to what we can or shouldn't eat, unless it is for ethical, medical or religious reasons.

The very first recipe I found for an avocado brownie recipe was featured on a Paleo website. I care to not discuss my thoughts on paleo for if you believe in the diet, I would be happy to have a nice discussion as to why I feel it is not a "healthy" diet or lifestyle and to dispute any type of reasons that you have as to why you think it is the best diet out there. And I care not to do this via email but instead, face to face for I've noticed that Paleo individuals are quite agressive when they talk on forums, blogs, etc. about foods that are bad in the diet and why "we" (those of us who choose not to restrict the diet from foods that are proven to be healthy in order to eat a diet that is extremely restrictive for many of the wrong reasons) are all unhealthy because we eat foods other than meat, sweet potatos, avocados, coconut oil, butter and veggies.

This is not from a vegetarian perspective but instead, my role as a clinical RD and exercise physiologist. But then again, anyone can put a disclaimer on a website and anyone can promote nutrition advice these days so sadly, educational titles and degrees do not go very far in today's society and those of us who are qualified to provide nutritional advice typically are not the "go-to" resources on the internet (where publishing thoughts is free).

Don't believe me....ask yourself how many blogs you read that are written by individuals who enjoy sharing their passion/thoughts for eating but include the disclaimer that they are not a dietitian or MD. 

Nothing wrong with getting some inspiration from others for even I enjoy seeing other blogs on food, recipes, etc. from individuals who are not RDs, but when it comes to changing your health, it's highly recommended to consult a RD that has a personal dietary philosophy that you also believe in (and yes - there are RD's who promote paleo if you choose to go to them.)

I realize that many people feel more confident with their diet (especially when shopping or eating around others) when they have a diet title. It's a very easy way to exclude food from the diet. Although from a medical standpoint I would never encourage someone with celiac disease, diabetes or another disease that can be managed with food as medicine to hide their disease for embarrassment of a dietary title, I feel that many people try to fit into a diet "title" (paleo, gluten free, wheat free, low carb, south beach, raw, vegan, lacto ovo vegetarian) becaues they feel more control over what they  can't eat. The more restriction, the easier it is to follow a diet plan.

I love the idea of people adding more real food into the diet and I think that many diet titles encourage that but I don't feel that you have to give yourself a title as to what you can or can't eat unless it is for religious, ethical or medical reasons. You may have trigger foods that encourage over eating but avoiding a list of foods will not bring you to a better relationship with food and your body.

Remember that your diet should enhance your lifestyle.

As I scrolled down my google search page, I began to see many avocado brownie recipes letting me know what they didn't have in them.
Dairy free
Flour free

This is another thing that I don't feel is bringing our society to a better relationship with food. Aside from individuals with allergies, medical issues, etc. many people seeking body composition or dietary changes are always looking for recipes or foods without "x" (because you feel you shouldn't eat it) instead of focusing on what you can eat and perhaps what will feel the best in your body. If you haven't taken time to think about how food makes you feel when you eat it and after you eat it, I highly recommend learning how to be more mindful with your diet before you start excluding and restricting food (often times, "healthy" food from the diet).

Unless I feel it is needed, you will not see me talking about my food by what it doesn't have in it. Not sure about you but I am at peace with food and I really enjoy what I put inside my body and I don't think about what I shouldn't be eating but instead, what I get to eat. 

I work with many individuals who have serious food allergies or medical conditions (athletes included) and they know what foods they should not eat because of their health. I treat every individual as an individual with personal goals in mind and their health as the top priority (before performance).

For example, gluten is found in soy sauce, ice cream, gourmet meats, medications, salad dressings and cream based soups. Individuals who have severe gluten intolerances or celiac disease have (hopefully) been educated on foods that they can and can not eat for health reasons. If not, it's important to work with a RD who can help.

Seeing a recipe online (blog, twitter, instagram) that says "gluten, wheat, egg, sugar, fat" free may help the individual who has a medical condition but I would like to think that by looking at the recipe, he/she may be able to identify if she/he can eat it. It also helps to search the Internet for x-free foods if you do have a dietary title but this all brings me to my point of this blog.

For the otherwise healthy individuals of our society, that perhaps may desire a change in body composition, boost performance or improve overall health, do you really need to be told what you aren't eating in order to be healthy?

If you eat carrots for a snack, would you think to yourself that you are having a "meat free" snack?
If you eat brown rice, beans and veggies for dinner, would you think to yourself that you are a "vegetarian"?
If you use avocado in your brownie recipe does that mean you are following the paleo diet?
If you eat a grapefruit for a snack, does that mean you are following the grapefruit diet?
If you snack on celery, does that mean you are on a fat-free, egg-free, vegan, raw diet?

I feel our society would have a much better relationship with food if we could enjoy real food for what it provides our body and indulge on occasion without feeling guilty. See food for the nutrients it provides, yum when you eat, indulge and feel better after you eat than before, eat with a purpose and  pay attention to your unique individual needs as to how food is best timed with your individual lifestyle and personal health, fitness and life goals.  

That is the diet I recommend for you to follow.

So I share with you my "Brownie Bites" recipe.

It may be gluten-free, vegetarian and paleo....if you want to give it a title.

Oh wait, it's not paleo - it has soy in it.

Gluten-free and vegetarian. Sorry Paleo peps, you can add almond flour instead. 

But to me, it's yummy. Enjoy!

Brownie Bites

4 ounces of baking chocolate (unsweet) - 1 block = 1 ounce
1 mashed avocado
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy flour (you can use any flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Add-ins: Pretzels, almonds, peanut butter, cranberries and white chocolate chips
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Melt chocolate in bowel (I recommend in 45 min intervals in microwave, stir and then reheat).
2. Whisk together eggs and sugar until light and doubled in volume.
3. Gradually add in melted chocolate until combined.
4. Stir in soy powder, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla.
5. Blend in the avocado.
(these are the typical steps for making brownies. I did not follow these steps - I just added everything into a bowl and mixed together with a fork. You can take your pick as to how you want to make the brownies. Mine tasted great.)
6. Divide the batter into 4 separate bowls and then add in your add-ins.
I used about 10 almonds (crushed), 1 tbsp Smuckers Natural PB, small handful pretzels, 1/8 cup cranberries and white chocolate chips. 7. On 2 baking sheets sprayed with a little non stick spray, using 1 tsp for measuring, spoon a heaping tsp from each bowl and then place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
8. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until slightly firm.
9. Insert a toothpick into each bite when you remove from the oven and eat warm or cool in the refrigerator.
10. Refrigerate in air-tight container for up to 4 days (if they last that long).

Nutrition facts:
Makes ~45 bites
Serving size: 1 tsp
Per bite:
36 calories
2g fat
1g saturated fat
9mg cholesterol
4g carbs
2.5g sugar
1g fiber
2g protein
17mg sodium