Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies (and other Valentine’s Day Ideas!)

24 Reviews / 4.1 Average
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Valentine's Day Snacks from 100 Days of Real Food

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how so many holidays seem to be centered around junk food? From Halloween candy to Christmas cookies to Valentine’s Day treats to Easter baskets it feels like my daughters collect enough candy from the holidays alone to feed an entire army (and we actually did help feed the army by shipping our Halloween candy to them one year!).

And since holidays, which seem to pop up every other month, are intertwined with birthday parties, school rewards, and other special occasions (King Cake for Mardi Gras anyone?) I often feel like I don’t even get the chance to “treat” my kids to something special because everyone else does it for me. But that’s because we aim to let treats truly be a “treat” at our house, which means not getting one every single day (or even every other day), and it sometimes feels like the rest of the world isn’t quite on board with that idea.

This post is not about that though…it’s actually about how “treats” can be fun and exciting without also being full of sugar or artificial colors (or from a factory)!

I know people get caught up in wanting to give kids something special—and some people even think I am “depriving” my children when I don’t want them to have highly processed junk food—but how special is it really if it’s also not good for their health? Sure a piece of candy here or there probably won’t hurt anything and my kids certainly eat junk food like that on occasion, but the point is I can offer something that’s better for them and just as exciting! I think it’s up to us to decide what foods are deemed as “special.”

If I put a little extra thought into how a certain food is presented, and I tell my girls it’s extra special then guess what? They agree and get pretty excited about it. They are young (4 and 7) so I’m not sure how long this will last, but you should have seen how they were clamoring over the pictured heart shaped fruit (on the kabob sticks with ribbons) while I was busy taking a million pictures of them. They were thrilled when I finally said they could gobble them up.

Was it a little more work than ripping open a Pop Tart? Sure, but not much and I personally think the extra effort was worth it to feel good about what I was feeding them. :)

So in the midst of the standard candy this Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll consider trying out some of these holiday-themed alternatives as well (as I’ve said before…cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies!).

Holiday Themed Alternatives

  • Heart or X & O shaped cheese or fruit (apple, kiwi, & honey-dew melon pictured above) either by itself or with other pieces on kabob sticks.
  • Homemade whole-wheat brownies (pictured & recipe below) that are heart-shaped or have heart shapes on them using unsweetened coconut, homemade whipped cream, unsweetened cocoa powder, or crushed nuts…you could even stick a small heart-shaped strawberry on top.
  • Heart-shaped homemade whole-grain pop tarts.
  • Whole-grain breads (like banana, zucchini, or pumpkin) baked in heart-shaped muffin tins.
  • Whole-grain muffins baked in either full-sized or mini Valentine’s-themed paper muffin holders (can be found at Michael’s Craft Store or Target).
  • Heart or X & O shaped breakfast pancakes (pictured) either plain or with flavored cream cheese – try mixing in fresh pureed strawberries or an all-fruit raspberry jelly to make it pink – in the middle to make it a sandwich.
  • Fruit or cheese squares stuck with Valentines-themed toothpicks (can be found at Michael’s or Target).
  • Heart shaped PB&J sandwiches for lunch (save the bread scraps in the freezer to make croutons or stuffing another day).
  • A Valentine’s themed lunch with a heart-shaped sandwich, heart-shaped fruit, and even heart-shaped cheese on a salad!

Valentine's Lunch from 100 Days of Real Food

Please share your “real food” Valentine’s Day ideas in the comments below! And now here’s the recipe for those brownies…

Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies

In the midst of the standard candy this Valentine’s Day I hope you’ll consider trying out some of these holiday-themed alternatives as well (as I’ve said before…cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies!):
24 Reviews / 4.1 Average
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 18 mins
Total Time: 28 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 14 brownies



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9X9 inch square glass baking dish with oil or butter.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl including the flour, cocoa and baking powder and set aside.
  • In a small pot on the stove melt the coconut oil together with the maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  • Once the coconut oil is melted whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the egg and keep whisking until it's mixed together thoroughly. If using nuts fold them into the batter with a spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the glass baking dish and bake for 16 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    Eat or store in an air-tight container at room temperature - enjoy!


* Omit the optional nuts to make this nut-free.
Note: These brownies are "cake-like" and a very "dark" chocolate flavor i.e. not as sweet as typical store-bought milk chocolate products.
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 149 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 12mg4%
Sodium 7mg0%
Potassium 114mg3%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 15IU0%
Calcium 30mg3%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


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231 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies (and other Valentine’s Day Ideas!)”

  1. Zucchini Brownies

    1 cup almond butter
    1.5 cups grated zucchini
    1/3 cup raw honey
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/3 cup dry cocoa
    1 cup or less dark chocolate, or gluten free chips

    Preheat to 350. combine all ingredients, pour into greased 9×9 baking pan, bake 35-45 min. until toothpick comes out clean.

  2. 1 star
    I made the brownies last night using only 1 egg, and I was not so much of a fan. I used organic raw cacao powder but everything else was according to the recipe. They were very dry. I love the ingredients used but wondering what else could be added to not make them so dry. I ate mine plain but my husband had to eat his with some ice cream.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Katie. Several readers have modified by adding an egg or switching out the coconut oil for butter. Goodluck. ~Amy

  3. 3 stars
    These came out very dry the first couple of times. This time I added 1/4 cup applesauce and used 1/3 cup coconut oil instead of 1/2 cup. They came out better.

  4. I’ll definitely try this recipe but not with Hershey’s cocoa. I’m disappointed you used it. Hershey’s chocolates are full of ingredients you wouldn’t feed your children (HFCS, artificial flavors, carageenan, soy lecithin, GMOs, etc.) (http://gmoinside.org/valentines-day-villains-guide/). Even though their cocoa may not have those ingredients, how do you support a company that uses them? There are much better cocoas available from much better companies.

    1. If we vote with our dollars, shouldn’t we purchase a good product from a company and thus encouraging them to make more of the same type of products. Businesses see which products sell. If they say, “oh we have a real food product and no one buys it,” we let them justify the junk in their other products. Just a thought.

      1. In some cases, yes, I agree, especially with smaller companies. But I honestly don’t think Hershey really cares about what people think. If they did, they wouldn’t have spent $500,000+ fighting against GMO labeling in CA. Until customers stop buying the bad products from Hershey, I don’t think buying the good is going to make much difference. I also think there are much better cocoas than Hershey’s and I’d rather spend my money with companies that sell better products all around.

  5. Is there a substitute for coconut oil? Wondering if I could use something I already have in my pantry rather than taking a trip to the store. Thank you!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Marla. Some readers have substituted butter for the coconut oil at a 1 to 1 ratio and had good results. Goodluck! -Amy

  6. I tried my very first experiment with coconut flour making brownies, it was very good!The combination of chocolate and coconut was awesome, I assume the coconut oil in these has the same effect, I will be trying this recipe next!

  7. I made whole wheat chocolate red velvet cupcakes for a valentines playgroup using beets and made my own cream cheese beet icing (adapted from weelicious), also bought a heart shaped pancake pan from target. My kids (2 and 3) love my beet pancakes – and yes, they know there is beets in them because the help puree and pick them out at the store. I will be making them pink heart shaped pancake sandwiches for school this week.

  8. 5 stars
    I was a big baker before changing the way I ate. And I was so pleased at how this recipe came out. Satisfying yet not sickening like tradition sugary sweets. I also came up with a quick ‘icing’ for a more decadent brownie. Natural peanut butter, cocoa, maple syrup, vanilla and a splash of milk and delish!

  9. I just made brownies yesterday by slightly altering another recipe. I used 2 eggs, applesauce, coconut oil, a bit of maple syrup and some sugar (gasp! – no more than 1/2 cup. I didn’t think they were too great, and I even used half white, half wheat. I was excited to see this recipe, but bummed to see the comments that it was caky and dry too. I am going to try butter maybe. I shouldn’t have to have a glass of water to get a brownie down. We ended up pairing it with ice cream. Let me know if you have any modifications.

    1. 5 stars
      I would say you modified the recipe. I just made this today following her recipe exactly and it was delicious! Perhaps try the original recipe first , you might like it.

      1. I modified a different recipe to make it more real food, not hers. I was excited to see hers, but in the comments, I am seeing many of the same feelings I had toward the other recipe I made, which was with two eggs and more moist than hers.

  10. I get the majority of my recipes from this site and my family and I LOVE them all, BUT these brownies were not good. My 2 year old ate one and asked for more, but I took one bite and couldn’t eat anymore. I was hesitant to make the brownies after reading the mixed reviews so I did what many recommended and used two eggs. I also used butter, because I was out of coconut oil. They were very bitter and dry. I was so disappointed because I love sweets and was craving chocolate! Everything else I’ve ever made was excellent! Thank you for all you do! :)

  11. The brownies I made today and followed your recipe exactly. Would taking the brownies out of the oven earlier than 16 minutes help with the texture in hopes of a more gooey center? My mother in law does this with a sheet cake recipe which gave me the idea.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Kara. I’m not sure that would help. These brownies are definitely more flaky than gooey so I don’t think that adjusting the baking time would help, but, you could certainly try it. Jill

  12. I made these brownies as posted tonight and they need some tweaking but were a good base. A little ice cream on top made them a hit for dessert tonight and I felt good about not using a mix. Will try again. I know it’s a sacrifice but we’ll keep trying until we get it just right. ;)

  13. 4 stars
    Should have read the comments on using 2 eggs before making them…but a little fresh raw whipped cream takes care of the dryness ..pretty much…..great quick recipe…used honey…might try maple syrup next time

  14. Have these in the oven right now….gotta say I’m s bit concerned…I locked the spoon and they weren’t sweet at all…..I wasn’t expecting super sweet but at least some! Hopefully they will sweeten as they cook….I had raw honey instead of store bought..does that matter?

  15. 5 stars
    I tried these the other day. They were awesome. Just wondering though: by “dark” cocoa, do you mean dutch processed cocoa (because it is darker brown in color), or just a darker kind of plain cocoa?

  16. I have made almost every recipe on your site and everything is always amazing. These brownies just were not good though! I was hesitant to make them after so many comments but I wanted to trust you and go for it exactly as written. I’ve been eating real food for over a year now so I wasn’t even expecting a super sweet processed treat but these really had no flavor at all and look of them was dry and unappetizing. I would love for you to re-visit these brownies and come up with one of your stellar recipes.

  17. I’m sorry to say it but I think these are horrible! I like everything else I’ve made so far but these were absolutely terrible! I would love to find a better version…

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jill. I would guess anywhere from 5-7 days. Mine don’t always seem to make it much past the week anyways and they are usually fine. Jill

  18. I hate saying this, bu I tried making these the other day and they were awful:( everything else I have tried from here is beyond amazing! But I couldn’t even finish one piece. I ended up throwing the whole pan away. I used the 100% dark Hershey’s powder like the recipe calls for and everything. I am not the biggest fan of dark chocolate but I don’t think that was the problem..these ended up coming out like a cake? Very fluffy and not like brownies. I feel so awful saying that because I love everything else you make. Any ideas what I might have done wrong? I seriously need a chocolate fix and the snickers I pass every week at the gas station are starting to sound better! Lol

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jessica. Please don’t apologize for sharing your feedback – we actually really do appreciate it. I have to say, these are more cake like than chewy like you may be used to. Some have reported too that they are a little dry – not sure if you had that issue. You may want to try adding one more egg perhaps. You may also want to try the powerballs if it’s chocolate you’re after. Here is the recipe…https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/06/05/recipe-powerballs-two-versions/. Jill

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Tina. I’m not sure I’d sub the olive oil, but, you could give it a try if you like. The recipe only calls for one egg. Jill

  19. I whipped up a batch of these today, using organic white spelt flour instead of wheat flour. Yummy!! My two girls (ages 5 & 3) loved them and keep asking for more! It’s going to be hard not to eat them all today!

  20. Hi,This recipe is an eye opener for me,we have posted lot of recipes using all purpose flour and refined sugar,they taste like heaven but they have little nutrition value,this recipe shows me how REAL food(unprocessed food)can be tasty too,and i have tried lot of healthy recipes but many of them wont turn out what they are supposed to be,but this one tasted just like real brownies..i have posted the result of ur recipe in my blog plz check it out leave me ur precious comment :)

  21. hi,your website is really an eye opener,it made me realize how much processed food i am giving to my child,which has little nutrition,after trying this brownie i really felt very good about my self that i am giving REAL food to my son..i have posted result of ur recipe in my blog do check out and leave us ur precious comments :)

  22. I made blondies from this recipe because I didn’t have cocoa powder. I didn’t want to add more wheat flour so I ground some oats in my blender and substituted oat flour for the cocoa powder, equal amounts. Instead of coconut oil (didn’t have any on hand) I did half applesauce and half vegan butter since I don’t eat real butter. I also substituted flax and water for eggs, but you don’t have to do that…

  23. My husband I just made these and they were AMAZING! We love them. I will say they were sweeter tasting once they had cooled down. We did add an extra egg and since we are on a budget and did not have coconut oil, I used natural unsweetened applesauce. They turned out GREAT!

  24. I just made my first batch, exactly as the recipe instructs.

    I definitely get a taste of the chocolate, but they seem very grainy to me. Not moist or… “brownie like” at all.

    Any suggestions to fix this?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Elizabeth. One reader had the same comment and noted they added 2 eggs and replaced the coconut oil with butter which made them a lot less dry. Good luck. Jill

      1. If you substitute butter for the coconut oil, is it straight half cup for half cup or do you use more or less butter? I plan to make these in the next couple of days.

  25. This recipe look AMAZING! I found another chocolate “treat” recipe… ready? Chocolate Coconut Doughnuts!

    Chocolate Coconut Doughnuts

    10 medjool dates, pitted
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    6 eggs
    ½ cup coconut flour
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    1/3 cup cacao powder
    ½ cup coconut oil, melted
    Dark Chocolate, melted (optional)

    Check out this site for the full scoop!


  26. I made these a few different times because I really liked them, but i didn’t want them to be so dry. What worked the best for me was using two eggs instead of one, and a splash of milk that was probably somewhere between an eighth and a quarter cup.

  27. I made these today, I doubled the recipe, used maple syrup and added flax seeds for a nutty flavor. I agree they are a bit dry but so good!

  28. I made this this morning and quite honestly, do not like the coconut flavor (I had never used coconut oil before)and neither does my middle son. My husband and youngest son both like them a lot, but say they are too dry. Next time I’m going to do as others suggested and try two eggs and butter instead of the coconut oil.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Justyna. Thanks for leaving a review. Hope you enjoy them next time. Good luck. Jill

  29. We made these last night and they were okay. We made them with honey. I think we’ll try again but with the maple syrup and maybe add an extra egg. They were a bit on the dry side.

  30. Holy Moly yum! Brownies have always been my most favorite thing but I haven’t had them since I cut refined sugar out of my diet. I even made my favorite recipe on Sunday for a gathering and told myself I was going to have a free day but I couldn’t bring myself to eat them(knowing if I had one I would probably eat ten!) So I was so happy when I came across this recipe this morning. I used butter instead of coconut oil but other than that stuck to the recipe. They were awesome! My kids really liked them also (which is a good and bad thing haha!) They are definitely still a once in a while treat but it is nice to have a better alternative. Thank you.

  31. These brownies are awesome! I used King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, honey, butter and added an extra egg. This gave a perfect texture and flavor (for us anyway). A definite “keeper”. Thanks :)

  32. I was craving sweets so bad last night (it was only my 2nd day on the challenge, but I am addicted to sweets) so I put some 100% unsweetened cocoa in a bowl with 100% mapel syrup, a little bit of melted unsalted butter, vanilla extract and used a mixer then added some walnuts and then spread it out on wax paper then put it in the freezer and it tasted just like dark chocolate fudge! My husband tried it and even wanted more of it! I was proud of myself :)

  33. I am brand new to this very old idea of eating “real food.” Found your website listed in “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food” and decided to check it out. Love the website so far and look forward to reading more, feel like I have so much to learn. It makes so much sense. Why would I eat something that isn’t really food?! I was agreeing with everything and then I thought of chocolate. OH NO! I’m not a chocoholic or anything, but I do enjoy chocolate and chocolate has sugar right!? Then I found this recipe just now and see you used unsweetened cocoa powder (no sugar) and use honey or maple syrup to sweeten it. Does this mean I can still each chocolate!? Oh boy I’m exicted!! Because I’m so new to this whole concept, can you please tell me are maple syrup and/or honey commonly considered to be “real food”? They are both natural, no additives or processing (right?) I’m guessing they are okay. Thanks again for the blog and for this recipe.

  34. made it with maple syrup, butter and 2 eggs and it is SO good! I made the first batch following the recipe as listed above (with honey) and it was a LITTLE dry and just so-so. We made it work as a dessert by taking plain yogurt, sweetening it with honey mixing in blueberries and topped it with brownie crumbles from the “so-so” batch. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  35. I was also wondering if it is OK to use organic dates as a sweetener. I will admit that I do use honey for a lot of stuff and have been since I cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners. I have seen some recipes where people have used dates instead of sugar.

  36. For a whole food diet is it alright to use things such as cacao powder, carob powder, nutritional yeast, maca, lacuma and just other things you would find in a raw food diet?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      The newer version is the one that’s posted here…some have also changed it further by adding a second extra egg.

      1. I want to marry these brownies. I used honey. My uncle has a bee farm and so we are stock piled. :) Also, I used butter instead of oil. And I did go ahead with the extra egg. They are a little cake-y for my husband who is addicted to Betty Crocker triple chocolate chunk… *sigh*. However, I am the one who buys the groceries, so gone are the days of box brownies!

        One thing I will note… they are better cooled. Its like the sweetness settles or something.. Not sure of the science behind it but I have found that to be the case with most of the baked things I have made with honey or maple syrup as sweetener.

        Thank you for your blog. It has blessed me tremendously!

  37. Just made these and they were great! I didn’t find them to be dry but smooth and moist. Our daughter put icecream on hers(homemade whipped topping would work also), because they are not super sweet (however very satisfying to me). Another topping that could be great is a mixture of peanut butter and banana or just plain peanut butter smoothed on top (can be heated to make spreading easier). I’m going to crumble some into my oatmeal cup in the morning to add a new flavor to an old favorite…. The possibIlities are endless :-) Love your site!!!

  38. Ive been trying your recipes for a few weeks now and I absolutely love every one of them! These brownies were AMAZING! Why doesnt everyone make brownies like this?

  39. Ok the flavor of these was amazing! I used the dark chocolate but they were a little on the dry side. I like moist fudgy brownies. Do you think adding an egg would make them a little more dense?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      If you want them more moist I think adding an extra egg would be the next thing to try…let me know how it turns out!

  40. I love your site but please do NOT recommend Hershey’s chocolate. Are you aware they are on the Corporate Villian list and they are infamous as one of the most IRRESPONSIBLE Corporations. They are currently involved in a child labor lawsuit. Most of the cocoa producers use child labor and they are one of them. Please look for FAIR TRADE cocoa. You can find out more detailed info @ http://www.betterworldshopper.org

  41. I just made these with maple syrup and wanted to let you know I really like them. I know there were some complaints on Facebook but they pass our tests. Thanks!

  42. I made these for the first time this week and they came out very dry. Only 1 out of my 3 kids will eat it. I personally like the chocolate taste and how it’s not super sweet. Any suggestions on how to make it more moist while still keeping it “real”?

    1. I added 2 eggs and butter rather than the coconut oil, it did come out more moist. With those changes, all 3 kids ate it! Thanks for those suggestions!

  43. I completely agree about the crazy amount of holidays that are centered around candy. I find that especially because I’m a young parent (24) that people are shocked at the food choices I make for my daughter (no fruit cups?! you dont keep candy in your house?! almond milk instead of cows milk?! who is this monster??)

    One thing that my husband and I have done to cut down on candy is by filling her easter eggs with trail mix that has been prepared at home (to avoid the salt used on peanuts/walnuts/almonds etc). She gets just as excited to have dried cranberries and mixed nuts as she does to get a gummy worm. I sometimes add a little dark chocolate to the mix for an extra treat <3

  44. I made these last night. Wow, chocolatey! I think they’re really good and I’m a true chocolate addict. The best part to me is that they are strong so I only needed a teeny tiny little square to curb my chocolate craving. Awesome with some milk. :)

  45. Hi- I am making this recipe, and it’s the first time I’ve used coconut oil. My oil is in solid form right now, and I am wondering if you measure the 1/2c in solid form, and then melt it or it is 1/2c once melted…or does it not matter, and I am over thinking this!? :)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Not sure if I am too late…but either way will work! I measured mine solid (as closely as I could) then poured it out to melt.

  46. wanting to make the friut pops-are the kiwi hard to cut- being so soft- Any tips on how to transport them-cooler etc. do not want to mess them up and do not have a lot of time to mess with them. Think it is a great idea.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I may be too late answering this (sorry…lots of emails to get thru!), but the kiwi didn’t give me trouble at all. Just be sure to cut it thick enough. Also, I think putting them in a tupperware then cooler would work…of you could put them on the sticks once you get there.

  47. Hey there. Loved this post! Question though, how did you make the heart shaped fruit kabobs? Perhaps it’s a silly question, but I want to make them for a valentines party on Monday! And do I squeeze lime juice on them to keep from turning brown? I always forget how to do that. Thanks !

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I may be too late here (sorry…get lots of emails these days), but I just used a cookie cutter and yes lemon would help apples and such from turning brown.

    1. IMO coconut oil is a great saturated fat and adds a bit of a nice flavor to certain things (sesame encrusted salmon, for example). Some people can taste EVOO in things and don’t always care for it, plus it’s always nice to have multiple fats to use when you cook. In baked goods, sometimes it’t nice to split the butter/coconut oil 1:1 too.

  48. My son is allergic to all nuts/peanuts and coconut. Is there another oil you would suggest using in the brownie recipe? Thank you.

  49. I just made these… I can eat them because I don’t mind the more bitter chocolate flavor,but they were very, very dry. The kids said no way! I am new at this so I really need some suggestions. I followed the recipe exactly with honey.

  50. Yum. I used a mix of WW pastry flour and oat flour. I used honey, and I also mixed dark and regular cocoa. They still turned out very dark chocolate tasting. I also added 1/4 cup homemade applesauce that was very thick and a splash of whole milk, since some commenters said they were dry. The only thing I will do differently next time is less dark cocoa, but that’s just personal preference.
    Thanks for the recipe!!

  51. I made these and while the flavor was great (sweet enough, chocolately) they were very, very dry. Any suggestions? We have been using WW flour in everything for a while, so we’re used to the consistency/density, but these just didn’t turn out.

    (Btw, also just made the banana bread but as muffins, and they turned out great!)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I actually slightly changed the recipe since you made them…the new recipe replaced the old one on this post.

  52. I made these tonight too and they were a big flop. It could be because of what I used; I used my own ground whole wheat flour and raw cacao powder instead of nestle’s cocoa. My brownies were not sweet and they were gritty. I used the honey. I may try them again using the same flour and cocoa you did. Do you think you could add liquid stevia to help sweeten them up? Or maybe honey and maplel syrup? I would love any suggestions you have. I absolutely love your site and have baked several of your recipes and they are all wonderful!!!

  53. I tried these tonight and mine were a huge flop. I don’t think my butter was warm enough as it did not mix well. I had my friends taste and give feedback and they both said they tasted bitter. I think I will try again with warmer butter and honey. On the up side my daughter seemed to like them.

      1. Where is this bit about butter and the electric mixer? I used the coconut oil but sometimes that flavor is a bit much for me and would like to use butter. I did like them tonight, though I am interested in trying a different way!

      2. 100 Days of Real Food

        I actually changed the recipe based on reader feedback. If you want to try them with butter just melt it and use in place of the coconut oil.

  54. You can substitute the butter with a mashed up avacado. I just made a brownie recipe similar to yours with avacado instead and it was delish!

  55. I love these recipes – everything I’ve tried has been a hit with my family. What I really want to know is if you have a list of tips for converting my old recipes into “real food” recipes – how much honey in place of sugar, a substitute for Crisco, etc. For many of them, I can wing it, but some of the baked goods just don’t come out right.

    Oh, and tonight it’s chicken picatta with whole grain pasta. This one I’ve successfully adapted just by switching to whole white-wheat flour for dredging the chicken and switching the pasta. It is my 4yo’s absolute favorite dinner. I even make it for company – I thought my mother-in-law was going to faint when she found out that I cook with REAL BUTTER!

  56. I would love to see baked goods recipes made with agave instead of sugar. Have you tried any? How could I substitute the maple syrup or honey in your whole wheat brownie recipe with agave?

  57. thanks for the ideas! I will definitely be trying the brownie recipe. Also I was wondering, I’ve been finding a lot of recipes that use agave syrup as the sweetener.. does this count as a “whole food”? If not, do you think the same amount of honey or maple syrup would make a big difference in the taste?

  58. These are delicious! I just made a batch and added a little more maple syrup (1/4 cup instead of 1/3) and 4 oz. unsweetened organic applesauce–just because when I was mixing the batter it was so dry & thick I was a little nervous–it ended up making the brownies a little more fluffy but so good. I still feel bad eating a little brownie before lunch…

  59. Great ideas! I try to make the “treats” themed to the holiday – just a little decorating and making it seem special makes an ordinary dinner a big event. So for Valentine’s day, I’ll cut their food into heart shapes, we’ll decorate the table with red (cloth) napkins and homemade valentine’s, etc. The kids love all that.

    My goal for this month is to have a healthy snack waiting for them after school – I’m making a list and these brownies will go on them – maybe for a Friday “here comes the weekend” treat!

  60. Made these tonight to celebrate our family going the whole month of Jan eating REAL FOOD! No fast food. No fried food. No sugar or other artificial, refined sugar/sweeteners. I am so stinkin’ proud of us. Bring on February!

  61. I’ve made heart-shaped biscuits or pancakes for years on Valentines Day. I still make them for my hubby though the kids are now adults. Another idea I’ve used to make food special without sacrificing nutrition is giving thought to how it’s served. I have a beautiful china plate that I call our “special plate.” If I want to honor someone (birthday, some accomplishment, etc.), that person gets the beautiful Noritake plate with violets on it while the rest of us use our beautiful white china on a lacy table cloth. Stores sell “You’re Special” plates, but personally I like the one we’ve dubbed “special.” In my quest to simplify life I considered getting rid of my china. However, I decided that since it’s getting less common to cook beautiful, nutritious food and serve it on bone china, I’d keep the china and invite people to our home to eat. We live on a limited income and rarely eat out, but we have guests frequently and they love the yummy food and TLC.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      We have the red “You’re Special” plate from when I was a little girl…my daughter’s LOVE when we decide to pull it out for a special celebration!

  62. It’s funny you should post this, as I tried to make whole wheat brownies 2 days ago. Unfortunately, they were terrible. This recipe looks a lot better than the recipe I was trying to adapt. Thanks!

  63. I love your site! I am sensitive to gluten and am wanting more ideas for gluten free meal plans, recipes, etc. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Thanks! For gluten free (recipes and meal plans) check out both Deliciously Organic and The Fresh 20. Good luck!

  64. Could you use agave nectar instead of the maple syrup or honey? I’m not a big fan of either of those tastes and agave nectar gives sweetness without added flavor. Just not sure of the consistency.

  65. I love the pancake idea. And I was thinking along the same lines with coloring (and of course flavoring) the cream cheese with fruit. My thought, though, was just a basic fruit smoothie with yogurt, banana, milk, & then strawberries for a beautiful pink Valentine’s Day drink. Many thanks for the ideas.

  66. Often shapes make things more fun for kids. An easy kid friendly “treat” is finger jello made knox blox and fruit juice. I cut the jello out with cookie cutters to fit the holiday/party theme. For valentine’s day I use cranberry juice (red) and a heart shaped cookie cutter. My girls rarely get juice, so the jello is a real treat. If you put your pancake batter into a squeeze bottle you can make most any shape. I always make pancake men on Christmas Eve as Ma does for Laura and Mary in “Christmas in the Big Woods” and I most recently made snowman pancakes my daughter’s snowman themed birthday. Cheese cracker or graham cracker dough can be cut out with cookie cutters before baking. Love the heart shaped apple pieces! They are a perfect addition to the fruit and cheese kabobs I was planning for my daughter’s class valentine party :)

  67. Just made these and I loved them, but my 5 year old daughter did not care for them. They are not as sweet as “box brownie mix” which is what I think she thought they were going to taste like. Hopefully as we keep working on cutting out the junk food, her tastebuds will change accordingly.
    And I too, agree with the comment about the grandparents. I feel like if there are grandparents who only get to see their grandchildren a few times a year…if they want to “spoil” them with junk food, that is fine. However, we live in the same town as my parents so my children see them at least 3 times a week and my mom feels like because she is the grandma, she can feed them whatever she wants to (chocolate milk and cookies for breakfast!). A slooooow work in progress on her!! =)

  68. We now give special “prizes” instead of treats. Usually they want to go to the $ store, which is great: it’s inexpensive, the toys are cheap (so we can throw them away in a few days, and so avoid extra clutter, without feeling bad about it), and it is a fun little “date” with either mom or dad. Other prizes can be a new show on our Netflix queue, or that craft that they’ve been wanting to do forever, but that we just haven’t made the time for yet. But Elizabeth speaks truth when she says the hardest part is getting the grandparents on board. Last night when I offered my middle child a black bean brownie for dessert, she countered with, “Ahhh, I was hoping for an apple for dessert!” It made me happy. Maybe we’re getting somewhere with these kids after all. Or maybe those brownies were just terrible…?

  69. I love these ideas (and I pinned them). I can’t wait to try your brownie recipe. I’ve been searching for a healthy brownie recipe for my kids who love chocolate. The black bean brownie recipe on 101 Cookbooks is good, but I don’t always have black beans and agave nectar in stock.

  70. I am probably one of the few moms at our school who is glad we cannot bring in treats for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, etc. I think it creates too much stress for parents and teachers. Thanks for the recipes! Can’t wait to try the brownies.

  71. I just sent an email to my child’s preschool suggesting healthier ‘treat’ choices from all the parents, we’ll see what they say……thank you for these inspiring and adorable treat ideas!

  72. LOVE these ideas…as a parent who wants her children to eat as healthy as possible… and the parent of a child with food allergies–all the food focus of every holiday makes me cringe. These are great ideas that can easily be adapted to be inclusive. Thanks so much for sharing!

  73. Thank you so much for this post!! I was just saying yesterday, that I needed a good, healthy idea to make my daughter something fun for Valentine’s. These are perfect :) Elizabeth, I totally agree with you and it IS difficult to get grandparents on board at times. I find that I just have to constantly remind my parents that we are a “no-junk-food-family” and I also remind my daughter that it’s NOT ok to ask Grandma for ice cream. My daughter is 9, so right now it’s all about encouraging her to be responsible and healthy. Good Luck! :)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Yes, it was an 8X8 pan, but the batter was not quite spread all the way to the edges (since it’s thick).

  74. We also have to remember the psychological impact of calling junk food “treats”. I am trying to re-work the definiton of the word for my 6-8-10 year olds. I want them to think of delicious fresh fruit and homemade healthy snacks as “treats” not processed commercial junk. The hardest part is getting the grandparents on board *sigh*…. thanks for a great website!

    1. It’s so true. Even though my mother in law knows how I feel about junk food, it is still offered in abundance when we visit. I think a lot of it has to do with education – she just doesn’t understand how foods affect your body. She believes everything should be fat-free and sugar-free to be healthy :-)

    2. I’m on board with that. Especially the grandparents part. My mom started to give my 18 month old a Coke the other day and I asked her to stop and she wouldn’t. I NEVER thought I would have “one of those” mothers. She said that the kids “need to be exposed to that stuff so they know it exists.” I’m so not a crazy strict person, but an 18 month old and soda? Totally not necessary. Save that for five year olds who go to an occasional birthday party.

  75. These look great! Do you think they would turn out if I substituted 1/4 cup applesauce for the egg? My son has an egg allergy and I’ve been searching for a good and healthier brownie option for him.

    1. You can use 3tbsp water mixed with 1 tbsp ground flax seed to replace egg in baking. I haven’t tried it with this but so far its worked with everything else

    2. I have tried the egg/flax swap and it works great! I was actually very pleasantly surprised at how well..I haven’t tried THIS recipe, but I used it in a whole wheat/oat baked chocolate donut.

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