The second view is a more unprocessed, whole food, nutritious diet view. We would probably all agree that a salmon and kale dinner is healthy. However, once again, I could eat a huge portion of salmon fried in vegetable oil with kale coated in creamy dressing and end up with an unhealthy dinner. Bringing this discussion back to the brownie - compared with a "typical" peanut butter chocolate chip brownie, this recipe does yield a lower calorie treat. However, it is still dessert. The healthier aspect comes from the ingredients used (whole wheat flour, coconut oil, oats, semi-sweet chocolate, honey, etc). With all that being said, these brownies are pretty darn yummy straight out of the oven. They don't have great lasting power though, so don't make a huge batch thinking they will be great in a week. This is a great recipe if you want to have dessert for the kids that has healthier ingredients or are tailoring your dessert to a crowd, either your family or at a party or potluck, that cares and appreciates the compromise of some indulgence for healthier ingredients. Let's be honest, sometimes you go to a party to splurge not to have healthy dessert, but sometimes a healthier option lets you indulge without giving up a health goal!
One final note - dessert recipes have a fascinating way of making their servings appear healthy by playing with the serving size. The original recipe stated that this brownie recipe yields 12-16 servings. If you have ever cut a pan of 8x8 brownies into 16 servings and had only one brownie - congratulations, your portion control is excellent! Mine, however, is not, and that 100 calorie brownie I thought was so awesome just turned deadly after I ate thee of them. So, I realistically think the yield is 9-12 servings. That means that each of these brownies is approximately 225-300 calories/brownie. That isn't a piece of fruit, but if you eat just one and tell yourself you just ate oats, whole wheat flour, and a bit of honey it doesn't sound all that bad :)!
Adapted from Live Well Bake Often
1/2 cup reduced fat creamy peanut butter*
1/4 cup brown sugar**
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, egg, coconut oil and vanilla until fully combined
3. Add in the oats, flour, salt and baking soda and mix until combined. Fold the chocolate chips into the batter.
4. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is set and lightly golden brown
5. Allow to cool in pan; cut into bars.
*If you read this blog regularly you wil remember my diatribe about peanut butter. If you are purely concerned with whole, natural ingredients, use whatever puréed peanut, peanut butter you prefer. I opted for the reduced fat to try to reduce some of the calories.
**Coconut sugar can also be used in place of the brown sugar.
Healthier Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars (printable recipe)