The Brownie Solution
Everybody loves a good brownie, right?
Trouble is - if you have any kind of digestive disorder, autoimmune disease or difficulty losing weight - brownies might not love you.
Most brownies contain white flour, boatloads of sugar, maybe a bit butter & other dairy products and eggs. If you’re struggling with digestive issues or autoimmunity, it’s likely that one or all of these are a trigger for you.
Why are these likely triggers?
GLUTEN is a sticky, difficult to break down protein found in wheat, barley & rye. Most baked goods contain boatloads of this tricky protein. Because it is difficult to breakdown it can throw your digestive system for a loop!
To make matters worse, gluten stimulates a protein called zonulin that tells our gut lining to open up. This happens in everyone to some extend, even if you don’t have any known gluten-sensitivity. This means that the more we eat gluten containing foods, the more we are opening up the gut and allowing inflammation to proliferate in the bloodstream due to undigested food sneaking through. If you have an autoimmune issue, this is the last thing you want because your immune system may mistake your own tissue for these undigested food particles and double down on your autoimmune symptoms. The gluten protein is very similar in molecular structure to certain tissues of our own body, making this mistake in the immune system much more likely when gluten is present in the bloodstream.
If weight management is your issue, this kind of inflammation will also promote weight gain as a protective mechanism.
DAIRY has a few problems that are linked with digestive, autoimmune and weight concerns. One, is the classic lactose problem. FUN FACT: We used to stop producing lactase (the enzyme we use to break down the sugar in milk) by the time we reached adolescence! Now, because we’ve started to use cow’s milk, we have adapted, but generally not enough for ANY of us to keep up with heavy consumption even if we’re not technically lactose intolerant.
The proteins in dairy, casein & whey, also have an affinity for burrowing through the gut lining, contributing to inflammation in the gut & the development of leaky gut. Unfortunately, for those with autoimmunity, casein also tends to cross-react with gluten, meaning it may contribute to molecular mimicry and your immune system’s affinity for attacking self.
Dairy products also contain protease inhibitors. These are compounds that inhibit our ability to break down protein and promote leaky gut.
As if that wasn’t enough, dairy is also highly insulinogenic, meaning they create an exaggerated insulin response upon consumption, contributing to inflammation, insulin resistance & weight gain.
And just to toss a few more in there, dairy products also contain active hormones that have the potential to alter human hormone levels (like IGF-1), which can contribute to problems of estrogen dominance and weight gain. Finally, they increase mucous production, which can irritate the gut lining and hinder nutrient absorption.
SUGAR is one of the biggest problems for most of us. It stimulates opioid receptors, making it chemically addictive - IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! It causes blood sugar imbalances, which lead to further cravings, weight gain, inflammation, adrenal fatigue and, if not properly addressed, insulin resistance & diabetes. Regulating blood sugar levels and maintaining insulin sensitivity are crucial to regulating the immune system and reducing inflammation.
EGGS are medicine for some and poison for others. For people with gut issues or autoimmunity, you may unfortunately be in the latter category. For one, eggs are one of the most allergenic foods, affecting between 2-3% of the population!
For another, they contain lysozyme, which are enzymes in the egg white that have the ability to transport pathogenic bacteria or undigested proteins in our gut across the gut barrier, damaging the gut and worsening leaky gut. To make maters worse, once those they’re in the bloodstream, they are now shuttling around and protecting a pathogenic bacteria that your body will be trying to destroy. This sends your immune system into a rage and causes systemic inflammation contributing to autoimmunity.
Egg whites also contain protease inhibitors, which will inhibit our ability to break down and absorb proteins properly.
Ok… so we’re making brownies look pretty bad here.
What if I told you that you could avoid ALL of these aggravating ingredients and enjoy DELCIOUS brownies that actually contribute to GOOD HEALTH!?!
It’s real. Let’s take a quick look at some of the therapeutic foods I’ve included in my brownies that can actually help SOLVE digestive issues, PREVENT autoimmunity and PROVOKE weight loss.
BANANAS get a bad wrap. Yes, bananas contain a fair amount of sugar. However, they also contain blood sugar regulating nutrients such as pectin and resistant starch. These two types of fibre also help to improve detoxification and form a balanced stool, reducing incidences of BOTH constipation & diarrhea. It is due to these compounds that bananas actually rate low to medium on the glycemic index! The blood sugar of healthy people should not be impacted by bananas. However, if you are diabetic, you may still want to avoid eating too many well-ripened bananas (the more ripe they are the higher glycemic they become!).
The resistant starch in bananas may also improve your gut microbiome! Resistant starch escapes digestion and ends up in your large intestine, where it becomes food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This can help to protect your gut lining and improve overall digestion. Another bonus? This kind of fibre is associated with increase satiety & appetite suppression, making them an ideal snack for weight loss!
Bananas may also contribute to overall healing & reduction in inflammation due to their antioxidant content! They contain several types of potent antioxidants, including dopamine and catechins. These antioxidants are linked to many health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative illness.
CAROB is my alternative to cocoa in my brownie recipe. For my AIP/ autoimmune followers, you may know that cacao/chocolate is to be avoided because it is actually a seed and contains potentially gut-damaging phytic acid. For my celiac friends, it may be especially important that we avoid cacao/chocolate because it is known to cross-react with gluten in the immune system! Aside from those special cases, there are several reasons to incorporate more carob into your life!
Carob contains antioxidants that protect your body from free radical damage & environmental toxins. These antioxidant polyphenols are also extremely effective at lowering blood serum cholesterol levels!
Carob is naturally high in calcium, an essential mineral that protects your bones & joints, preventing osteoporosis. It also contains plenty of selenium, which is an antioxidant mineral that helps to speed wound healing in the gut and contributes to healthy thyroid hormone levels.
TIGERNUTS are an EXTRA special ingredient in my brownies! Tigernuts are actually a tuber, so they do not contain any of the phytic acid or digestive enzyme inhibitors that regular nuts do! They also contain a whole whack of fibre! At about 7g per 1/4 cup, tiger nuts are a quick fix to certain digestive issues, including constipation & detoxification.
Tigernuts are particularly high in magnesium, which helps to promote normal nerve & muscle function, regulates blood sugar, maintains normal blood pressure levels, strengthens bones, processes proteins, and aids in relaxation and bowel motility.
They also contain plenty of the amino acid l-arginine. This amino acid is a precursor to nitric oxide, which maintains the width of blood vessels to ensure normal blood flow. This makes it helpful for concerns such as clogged arteries, chest pain, heart disease, muscle cramps, rheumatoid arthritis and headaches.
Finally, Tigernuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are anti-diabetic as they boost glycemic tolerance. One of the MUFAs that tigernuts contain is called oleic acid and it has proven to help increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind!).
So, whose ready to try my upgraded brownies, quit feeling crappy and start feelin’ happy!!?!
Banana Fudge Brownies
(AIP, GAPS, PALEO, GF, DF, V)
TIME: 35 minutes
3 bananas (ripe)
1/3 cup carob powder
1 cup tigernut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp avocado oil (for greasing the pan)
1) Preheat oven to 350° F.
2) Prepare a glass baking pan by greasing the bottom and sides with a little bit of olive oil
3) In large bowl or mixer, combine all ingredients until a smooth batter forms.
4) Pour batter into prepared baking pan, smooth out the top and place in oven.
5) Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6) Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting into square and going to town!
If you enjoyed this recipe, SHOW ME! Tag me on instagram @realistic.holistic and use the hashtag #realisticholistic - I’ll be sure to share with my audience to show them just how easy it is!