Chow Bella

Paleo Recipes for Brownies and Banana Bread

If you haven't yet heard of the Paleo lifestyle, you're in for a treat. The Paleo philosophy is really simple: eat only whole, unprocessed foods and cut out all grains, legumes, and refined sugars. I know that cutting out grains and legumes may sound like the opposite of what many nutritionists advocate, but we're not here to argue about that. What I'm here to tell you is that when applied to desserts, the Paleo principles are the best! See Also: -Bisbee Road Trip: Quaint Farmer's Market, Vegan Nachos -- and Frog Balls -Three Ways to Wrap Asparagus -Flourless Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

Paleo dessert recipes are always gluten-free and very often diabetic-friendly. They're the perfect solution when you're cooking for strangers -- like a work potluck. It's also worth noting that many folks have experienced amazing health benefits after eliminating the above-mentioned forbidden foods. If you want to know more, take a look at this infographic.

I'm not going to lie and tell you that Paleo desserts taste just like the "regular" stuff, because they don't. I'm not going to say they taste better, either. They're completely different entities -- like comparing a cake made from a mix to one made from scratch. Or GMO and organic food. Everyone has an opinion and preference.

Many Paleo desserts call for almond flour, or almond meal, in place of wheat flour. Depending on the brand, almond flour behaves in many instances just like the wheat stuff -- but like I said, it depends on the brand. Some almond flours are better than others. Some are blanched, some are not. Some have skins, some don't. I've found Honeyville to be the best, but it's quite pricey and, in most instances, must be ordered online. On the other hand, Trader Joe's sells its brand at $3.99 per pound, and I find myself there more often than I'd like to admit.

So, when I came across this Paleo Banana Bread recipe that used Trader Joe's brand almond meal, I immediately set forth.

I was very satisfied with how the recipe turned out, though if you decide to try it, be sure to keep a close eye on the baking time. The original author, Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body, says to bake for 50-55 minutes and mine was ready (and almost burnt) at 40 minutes. The cake is a little more spongy in texture than a more traditional recipe would be, but is perfectly balanced in sweetness from the bananas and single tablespoon of honey. I'll definitely be making it again.

And now for the brownies. I was attracted to the following brownie recipe for the opposite reason I was attracted to the previously mentioned banana bread. In this case, the ingredients are a little more obscure -- calling for an avocado, sunflower seed butter and coconut flour, among other things. What I found especially intriguing was that there was only a single tablespoon of flour for the entire recipe.

As I got started, though, I was beginning to regret the long list of ingredients that required dirtying more bowls and measuring tools than I'm normally comfortable with. This includes using the food processor to process the avocado and a double boiler to melt the chocolate. I managed to get through it all and was pleasantly surprised with the dark richness of the brownies.

I guess that's why the Freckled Foodie named them "Dark Fudgey Paleo Brownies." If traditional brownies were the equivalent of a Hershey's milk chocolate bar, these would be like a piece of stone-ground 80 percent cacao dark chocolate. It's an acquired taste that gets better with time. I should note here that I didn't sprinkle my brownies with mini chocolate chips as suggested in the recipe -- that's sure to sweeten them up a bit and add a little moisture, as these were a tad bit dry.

They'd be especially delicious if you threw the Paleo philosophy out the window and paired them with a little homemade vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laura Gill