Chocolate and Squash = A Winning Combination
These brownies have a secret ingredient that manages to make them both more luscious and fudgy and more nutritious! Steamed, mashed butternut squash stands in for butter in this recipe and you’d never know if no one told you. Butternut has a mild, smooth flavor that blends with the stronger taste of chocolate seamlessly and adds moisture and body without adding extra calories too. If you’ve never had squash with your chocolate, it’s time to give it a try.
5 Reasons to Eat Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is an unassuming vegetable with a sweet, approachable flavor profile and an uncanny ability to pair well with almost any flavor. It’s only downside is that it is somewhat tricky to peel and dice, but many grocery stores have created a workaround by selling pre-peeled and cubed squash for shoppers in need of extra convenience. Butternut, like other squashes, is nutrient-dense, low-calorie, and affordable, making it a food that should be a part of everyone’s diet. Check out these five reasons that butternut is so incredibly healthy for you:
- Boosts your immune system.
Containing well over the daily recommended quantity of vitamin A and more than half the recommended quantity of vitamin C, butternut is packed with vitamins that support immune health (especially important during cold winter months).
- Improves bone health.
Potassium and manganese are minerals that support exceptional bone health, and butternut squash is a great source of both. This makes it an awesome food for athletes who place increased strain on their skeletal systems or elderly people who are interested in avoiding bone degeneration and osteoporosis.
- Rich in antioxidants.
Butternut squash is full of antioxidants that have been linked to reduced risk of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The antioxidants in butternut are fat-soluble, meaning they’re best absorbed by the body when consumed in conjunction with fat (like the coconut oil in this recipe!).
- Streamlines digestive function.
The whole-foods fiber found in butternut squash can help to improve digestion and prevent common gastrointestinal problems like bloating, constipation, and stomachaches.
- Healthier eyes.
Butternut is a great source of zeaxanthin and lutein, two antioxidants that have been linked to improved eye health (meaning less dry eyes, clearer vision, and decreased long term risk of disease in the eyes).
Revitalize Your Diet with Healthy Baking
Instead of completely cutting baked goods out of your diet and consequently feeling deprived, experiment with baked recipes like this that include nutrient-dense ingredients and healthy substitutions. Baking can be a part of a nutritious diet when approached in a smart, informed way. This is a great recipe to make with kids as it doesn’t require a mixer – in fact, the entire recipe can be made in one bowl with a wooden spoon! Of course, keep kids out of the kitchen if you don’t want them to discover the secret ingredient…
Butternut Squash Two-Bite Brownies (Makes twenty mini brownie bites)
2 cups raw peeled and diced butternut squash, steamed or microwaved until tender
¼ cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
2 large eggs
2/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup spelt flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350º F and spray a mini muffin pan with coconut oil baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mash butternut squash until finely textured – a potato masher works best but two forks will do the job too. Stir in coconut oil and eggs, then sift remaining ingredients (excluding chocolate chips) overtop.
- Stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined, then add chocolate chips and stir again to evenly distribute.
- Divide batter amongst 20 mini muffin cups (use a cookie scoop or two spoons to create even portions) and bake for 15 minutes, or until just set in the centers.
- Cool completely in pan on a wire rack, then transfer brownies to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to four days or in the freezer for up to two months.
- Replace chocolate chips with dried fruit or nuts for a more nutrient-dense mix-in.
- Brown sugar can be used in lieu of coconut sugar if the latter isn’t available.
- When frozen, these brownies make the perfect lunch box dessert. Place them frozen in your (or your kid’s) lunchbox in the morning and they’ll be thawed just in time for lunch!
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