I get a lot of people asking what they can do to make a healthy dessert. Whilst my first advice would always be to consume more fruit for your sweet fix, I am also realistic in knowing that sometimes this just doesn’t always quite cut it.
This sweet potato brownie provides a unique twist on the classic chocolate brownie. I’ve used sweet potatoes and maple syrup as a replacement for table sugar. Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fibre and rich in vitamin A, whilst the maple syrup impacts your blood sugar levels a little bit less drastically than table sugar does and is a much more natural, unrefined sweetener.
Maple syrup has been found to have a lower glycemic index (GI) than table sugar (this is a measure of the ability of a carbohydrate food to increase the level of glucose into the blood). Maple syrup has a GI of 54, whereas table sugar has a GI of 65 (The University of Sydney, 2017). Unlike table sugar, maple syrup retains trace minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium and calcium, and so this may be the preferable choice for those seeking to add a touch of sweetness but with the most nutritional value possible.
It is important to be aware that sugar is sugar, no matter what form of sugar or sweetener we use; it will still convert to glucose in our bodies in much the same way. However, by combining the maple syrup with the dietary fibre in the sweet potato, buckwheat flakes and almond flour, these ingredients will help to slow the release of sugars into the blood.
Whilst I have opted away from organic, grass-fed butter in this recipe, I have used healthy fats in the form of coconut oil instead, which is a source of saturated fat, medium-chain fatty acids and lauric acid, as well as cashew butter which packs a good dose of iron and magnesium.
For the chocolate-fix I have used cacao powder. Cacao is a great source of magnesium and a mineral that plays a crucial role in energy production. It’s also a polyphenol-rich food. Polyphenols are a large group of phytochemicals that offer numerous health benefits, such as increasing the beneficial bacteria in our gut.
Topping off this delicious sweet treat is pecan nuts. With their crunchy texture, pecans are one of the best sources of antioxidants of any other tree nut, with a high antioxidant load (Hudthagosol et al. 2011).
And there you have it… an indulgent treat that packs a colossal amount of nutrition and flavour. I really hope you like this!
For the brownies:
500g sweet potatoes
6 tbsp maple syrup
100g almond flour
100g buckwheat flakes
4 tbsp cacao powder
Coconut oil, for greasing
A sprinkle of salt
Pecan nuts (to sprinkle on top)
For the icing:
2 tbsp cashew butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
1.5 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp cacao powder
Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into bite-sized chunks.
Soften the potatoes in a steamer for 20 minutes and then take off the heat.
Add the softened potatoes and the maple syrup into a food processor and blend.
Meanwhile, add the leftover brownie ingredients into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Soon after, add in the sweet potato maple syrup mixture and stir thoroughly.
Grease and line a baking dish with coconut oil and spread out the mixture. Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove from the tray to cool for 10-15 minutes.
To make the icing, melt all of the ingredients together in a saucepan and stir through. Once the brownies have cooled off, cut into squares and spread on the icing. Top with some pecan nuts and leave to set in the refrigerator.
Hudthagosol, C. Haddad, E.H. McCarthy, K. et al. (2011). ‘Pecans Acutely Increase Plasma Postprandial Antioxidant Capacity and Catechins and Decrease LDL Oxidation in Humans’, The Journal of Nutrition, 141 (1), pp. 56-62, NCBI [Online]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21106921 (Accessed: 25 June 2018).
The University of Sydney. (2017). GI Foods: Maple Syrup. Available at: http://www.glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php?num=1855&ak=detail (Accessed: 25 June 2018).
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