But does it taste good (and a recipe)?

I love to bake. You can ask anyone I work with. I used to be the queen of bringing in baked goods. Pumpkin muffins stuffed with cream cheese. White chocolate cookies studded with tart cranberries. Bundt cakes dripping with puddles of glaze.

Not only did it all taste good. Baking was a stress reliever for me, and an act of love. I adored the moment when the rustling of aluminum foil peeled back from a pan of brownies caused heads to poke out of their cubicles. I loved watching my friends bite into a piece of pie and close their eyes in delight. Not to mention the fact that baking has always been a stress reliever for me. I loved watching a random list of ingredients come together into something delicious. The measuring, stirring, waiting, delighting…it made me feel calm.

I tried. I really did. I made desserts with applesauce instead of butter, honey instead of sugar. They were dry and bland. I’d rather eat no dessert than bad dessert, I quickly decided.

So I stopped baking. For over a year, my oven barely came on. I shifted to cooking instead. And I enjoyed it. But still, in the back of my mind, I missed baking.

I’m in a less, shall we say, aggressive season when it comes to food. I allow myself indulgences, treats. If I’m craving a brownie, I’ll have a brownie…albeit a small one.

But I still get really, really excited to find a dessert that is both healthy and delicious. And this weekend, I found one of those. When I read the recipe, I was a bit skeptical. It was both dairy and gluten free. Which often means taste free. But it was from a blog that I’ve come to love and trust, so I tried it. I doctored it a little. But as I stirred the batter with my wooden spoon and licked the bowl, it felt familiar.

And as I took a bite of my baked good, I closed my eyes and smiled. It is possible to find balance. A little healthy. A little decadent.

So, from my kitchen to yours. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Banana Brownies (modified from Ambitious Kitchen)

     INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 small (or 3 large) ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
     INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9×9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place oats in blender or food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour. You may need to stop blender and stir oats a couple of times to break them up. Transfer oat flour medium bowl; whisk in cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; set aside.
  3. Place bananas, vanilla, and honey into blender; blend 1-2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add to oat flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  4. Gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly with rubber spatula. Bake for 15 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Cool 10-15 minutes on wire rack.
  5. Put 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl (I used a ramekin). Microwave on high in 30 seconds intervals until chocolate is melted; stir well to combine then drizzle over the top of bars. Cut bars into 16 squares and enjoy!
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