Move over avocado and sweet potato, there is a new secret ingredient in these raw brownies … sauerkraut.
If you’re thinking “EWW!” Don’t worry! I get you. If you’re thinking, “Why would you go an ruin something as perfect as a brownie with sauerkraut?” I get you too. 🙂 Let me explain. Rather, let me jump to the chase and say that when you taste these super moist, raw brownies you won’t be able to detect that there is any sauerkraut in them. There is a very small amount of tang (similar to what vinegar or citrus would add to a dish) in these brownies, but it’s nearly impossible to taste the source of the tang. Case in point – my kids won’t eat sauerkraut straight, but they love these brownies!
Side note – I think it’s really important that kids see the food they’re eating in its whole form, but hiding a secret ingredient is OK once and awhile too! Especially when that secret ingredient has a trillion beneficial bacteria in a tablespoon and assists their little body’s immune strength and overall health and well-being. Yes, I’m alright with it.
Now, if you still can’t get behind the sauerkraut idea, it’s OK. You can just leave it out!
I’m not a huge dessert eater, shock. (Not really.) But when I do enjoy desserts, and I stress the word “enjoy,” they still need to be on the healthy side. This means no questionable ingredients and also keeping the sugar in check. (Yes, honey and maple syrup count too. They’re sugar after all.) Thus, none of my desserts are overly sweet, which can take some getting used to if you’re new to cutting back on sugar. But I still think they are darn delicious in their own right. And guilt free to boot.
So, sauerkraut brownies? Why? Well, I’ve been on a fermented food series kick for awhile now and when I made my chocolate happy gut smoothie awhile ago, which included sauerkraut, I got the idea to make brownies with the magic ingredient as well.
Sauerkraut is loud (meaning it has a strong taste), thus it has to be balanced out with enough loud flavors so that it isn’t offensive. Chocolate is such a natural choice for this as it is also a loud food player. The coconut and walnuts add healthy fats and bulk, while the dates add natural sugar and hold the brownies together.
I hope you enjoy!
- Cacao – Cacao is the raw version of cocoa. You can substitute cocoa powder in this recipe and get the same results, BUT cocoa is not a substitution for cacao when it comes to nutrients. Since cocoa is the heated version of cacao, you’ll lose out on a whole bunch of antioxidants as well as vitamins. Raw cacao is a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. It’s also a good source of monounsaturated fats, cholesterol-free saturated fats, fiber, natural carbohydrates and protein. Since these brownies are not cooked, I would definitely go for the cacao powder! You can read more about the differences here at Paleo Hacks.
- Sauerkraut – If you are using store-bought sauerkraut for this recipe, make sure it’s from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. The jars in the middle aisles have been pasteurized more intensely to make their shelf-life longer and thus don’t have a good amount of beneficial bacteria. (Also, fermented foods have a strong bacteria culture that “comes alive” at room temperature and can create incredible pressure on the jar or container!)
- Walnuts and Pecans – I buy all my nuts in bulk, soak them for 8+ hours (cashews for 6) with a touch of salt, and then dehydrate them on the lowest oven setting until crisp again. This improves the digestibility and neutralizes phytic acid present in raw nuts, which makes the nutrients available in the nuts more available to our bodies. The taste and texture of the recipe results will be the same regardless of this step. Of course, raw will work as well!
Special Diet Recipe Modifications:
- GAPS – Make sure the walnuts are soaked and toasted. Homemade almond butter is also preferable. Substitute 1 vanilla bean for the extract.
- 16 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ½ cup unsalted almond butter *
- ½ cup cacao powder
- ½ cup sauerkraut **
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (can substitute 1 vanilla bean)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup chocolate chips (optional, recipe not raw if using)
- few teaspoons of honey (optional, depending on preferences, use maple syrup if vegan)
- ** Cook time reflects time the brownies need to sit in the refrigerator. They are not baked. **
- If your dates are hard, remove the pit, and then soak them in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes or so to allow them to soften.
- Place all ingredients except the walnuts into a food processor and blend until dates are broken into very small pieces, 15 seconds.
- Add in the walnuts and chocolate chips (if using), and mix in thoroughly.
- Spread brownie mixture into a square baking pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Cut up and enjoy chilled!
** If using store-bought sauerkraut, choose a variety that is in the refrigerated section. Sauerkraut in the middle of the store on the shelves typically goes through a more rigorous pasteurization process and, therefore, doesn't contain much good bacteria. Now, I urge you to try these at least once with the sauerkraut! They really are good!! But you can also leave it out of the recipe as well and the brownies will still turn out just fine.