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. I was thrilled to find this healthier brownie recipe as I was craving chocolate this afternoon. Then I ate four in a row. My husband liked them too and the whole house smelled so good! Thank you!

  2. Nicole Jenkins

    I know this is an old post, but these brownies are awesome! We used maple syrup and we couldn’t find the dark chocolate cocoa powder so we just used regular (Stop & Shop brand). They were still great and my 6 year old girls loved them and loved making them!! Thank you!

  3. I made these and love them because they are “dark” chocolate and not very sweet. I am always looking
    for desserts with very little sugar. They were not dry,
    but they do stick to you mouth. Its a weird sensation.
    Im not sure what causes that. I melted choc. chips
    on top when they came out of the oven. I will definitely make them again. Does anyone know what
    causes them to stick to your mouth? They are moist

  4. 2 stars
    These brownies were very dry. I am used to and like healthier baked goods but these were way too dry and definitely not very sweet (and I don’t eat very much added sugar or any refined/processed sweets). Not sure I would make them again….although maybe using butter and adding stevia would help. I only used one egg.

  5. I followed the recipe exactly (using maple syrup & 2 eggs) and mine were quite dry. Any ideas as to why? Should I have used only 1 egg? I’m used to boxed brownies but i thought these would be just as moist.
    They were delicious, nonetheless.
    Thank you!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. The reader above suggests using butter in place of the coconut oil for more moisture. She also eliminated an egg.

  6. I really loved these!! I changed a few things though. I used butter instead of coconut oil. I have tried brownies with coconut oil before and they were dry. Also I used one egg as two eggs would make them more cake like. I baked them until they were barely done. They were so good!!

  7. 5 stars
    These are yummy! My family gobbled them up as did I. Curious what would be a serving size? Thanks for creating this website it has been very helpful!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. One to two small brownies. :) Lisa’s recipes are designed to serve a family of four with leftovers.

  8. I don’t use wheat flour (or anything wheat) so substituted with 1/2 cup of coconut flour and increased the eggs to 6 (coconut flour is a thirsty flour!). Folded the coconut flour slowly into the wet ingredients. Left out the baking soda and nuts. Turned out really well. :)

  9. Quick question about measuring the coconut oil – do you measure 1/2 cup as a solid (like you would Crisco)and then melt it? Looking forward to trying these!!

  10. I swear, I have said your entire first paragraph word for word! It makes me sad that I feel like I can’t treat my own kids. But I do feel a bit better doing it with real food treats and not artificial junk.

  11. Hi,
    I am trying some of your recipes, but I have a few kids who are gluten free. What would you suggest to substitute as a flour? the gluten free flour mixes usually have brown rice, white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and I am assuming that these aren’t any good?

  12. Was trying this recipe and noticed that there was no salt. I don’t know a lot about baking and I hope this isn’t a stupid question. I have just never baked anything that didn’t have a little salt. Was it left off of the recipe by mistake or do you not need salt? Thanks!! Love all your recipes. Have been trying to switch my family over to real food.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Tisha. There is no salt in this recipe….and there are no stupid questions here either. :) ~Amy

  13. So I made these today and when I took my first bite I guess I expected them to taste like the store bought ones I always make, but they didn’t, they were not chewy or gooey, more cake like, but they do taste pretty darn good, I added chopped walnuts and choc. chunks to the mix and I am glad I tried them b/c I know what all the ingredients are in them unlike the boxed ones. Yum.

  14. 4 stars
    Just wanted to share a tip – as noted by many reviewers and Lisa herself, these are more cake-like brownie and can be a bit crumbly. To zazz them up a little, after baking mine I treated it like a poke cake – poking holes all over the brownies and then poured organic half & half (maybe 1/3 cup?)in the pan and let it sit for about an hour. I also whipped up some organic peanut butter (no sugar – just peanuts), honey and a little bit more of the half and half to get a nice spreadable consistency and spread that on top of the brownies. The “poke” treatment really made them moist and more brownie like and the peanut butter icing was a decadent combo! A real treat – they were a big hit at a party we went to and no one could believe they had no sugar!

  15. I love most of Lisa’s recipes, but this one was a total flop for me. I followed the recipe exactly-I used the honey to sweeten instead of maple. They were extremely dry brownies and had no taste. Worst of all, i wasted a lot of expensive cocoa, honey, organic eggs on this recipe. I won’t make these again.

    1. Ditto!
      You took the words right out of my mouth.
      I am a big fan of real foods & had been looking forward to making this recipe. I even baked a double batch. A complete waste of some excellent & expensive items.
      Very disappointing!

  16. 3 stars
    The brownie flavor was great but they were SO dry. I know it says they are cake like and I was expecting some dryness but this was a lot. I think if I topped them with mixed fruit or something it might make it better but I didn’t have any on hand because I am pet sitting at someone elses house. I won’t be bringing them in for the bake sale tomorrow unfortunately because they are just too dry.

  17. 5 stars
    I was really surprised to see negative comments about this recipe because I loved it and will continue to make it. I used 2 eggs, maple syrup and coconut oil but may try butter instead of coconut oil next time. It definitely kicked my chocolate craving to the curb :)

  18. 5 stars
    First, the brownies were great! Second, and more importantly, thank you for your website. I have always been a label reader but not an ingredient reader. WOW what I have learned in such a short period of time. My husband keeps saying “this is on the new ‘diet’?!” because all of your recipes have been wonderful, nutritious and we don’t feel like we are missing anything. If anything they are more delicious that my other recipes because I am using whole fat products and we are getting them fresh from our co-op! Thank you for opening our eyes!

  19. 5 stars
    I really love this recipe!! The first time I tried it, I followed the recipe exactly. The brownies were a little dark for me… (my personal preference is for a lighter brownie) :) They also seemed not sweet and a little dry. (I hope that doesn’t sound rude!) I tried the recipe again. This time, I replaced the coconut oil with butter. I also used a lighter cocoa and a smaller amount of cocoa. I was very happy! The brownies are moist and delicious. They still are a more of a “cake like” brownie but I’m still a huge fan!

  20. We were having a chocolate craving last night and I just had to try these out. They were delicious! And I must say I felt a lot better about myself satisfying my craving with these rather than some loaded with sugar! I only had 1/4 cup maple syrup left so I actually used half maple syrup and half honey and I used 2 eggs and the taste was great! My husband, three year old and myself scarfed them down. My daughter couldn’t get them in her mouth fast enough!

  21. Thanks for the recipe! I will replace this one with my old brownie recipe and test it out over the weekend! I prefer using maple syrup over honey for baking but is pretty expensive when I buy it at my local grocery store. Do you have any recommendations on where to purchase some online? Thanks!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi April. Trader Joes and Costco have pure maple syrup for good prices. You can easily compare prices on Amazon if you want to order online and it is hard to beat their large selection. ~AMy

  22. I LOVE the idea of the heart shaped fruit on kabobs, I am SO going to do this for my kids :). Also one way we cut back on the “treats” at holidays is get them little gifts in place of the candy. My plan for valentines day was to get them each a tiny little heart box of chocolates with some type of craft for my 4 year old and a puzzle for my 2 year old then a book each. We do the same at easter. When I was a kid I remember getting huge baskets of candy where my kids get about 90% toys, movies, clothes that kind of stuff and 10% candy.

  23. 5 stars
    I can’t believe how great your recipes are!! You have no idea how happy I am to have found your blog! These brownies were PERFECT!!! I went with 2 eggs and didn’t have the “dark” hersheys jut the unsweetened regular kind and they were so gooood!! Next time I’ll try adding nuts! Thanks for all you do!! Can’t wait to get your cookbook in the mail!!

  24. 4 stars
    These were great! I have a huge sweet tooth and LOVE chocolate so these did not disappoint. I only used one egg because I like my brownies more dense than cake like and I used maple syrup. But I must say, I recommend 2 bites to try these. The first bite always makes me think,”Do I like these?” but the more the taste is in my mouth I think,”That’s pretty good.” And the 2nd bite is a winner( and every bite after that!). All my family said the same thing. Strange but true.

  25. I want to make these for Valentines Day for my children. I read the ingredients, but I am a little uncertain about the “1 to 2 eggs”, just to clarify, does it matter if you just use one? Thanks Lisa!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Gretchen. I’ve only made this recipe with two eggs and find it to be the right consistency. ~Amy

  26. I’ve been trying to make a brownie my kids will eat. Most call for at least 1 cup of sugar. What do you think about Coconut Palm Sugar instead of Maple Syrup?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Franki. Lisa pretty much sticks with honey or maple syrup in her baking in keeping with “the rules”: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-defined-a-k-a-the-rules/. For this recipe, you would need to convert it from a fluid sweetener to one that is not. I, personally, am a fan of coconut palm sugar (outside of the pledge, of course). I bake with it from time to time and use it in my coffee. I think it is likely a good alternative to refined sugar, though, be certain that what you buy is sustainably sourced. ~Amy

  27. 4 stars
    Just made these. I altered the recipe slightly, based on some reviews. I used 1/4 cup coconut oil, half stick unsalted butter, 1 egg, and added 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips. They turned out great! Thanks Lisa!

  28. Love this recipe but my daughter has intolerance to coconut milk. What would be a good substitute? She is also anaphylactic to peanuts/tree nuts and seeds. Thank you.

  29. 2 stars
    I made the brownies last night and followed the recipe exactly and my family did not like. I liked the fact the brownie wasn’t sweet but the brownie had no taste and the texture was odd and the brownie was very dry. If anyone has a better “real food” brownie recipe that is moist and fudgy please send me the recipe.

  30. My concern with whole wheat products is the gluten. Wheat isn’t processed anymore like it was back in my mom’s day. It has been genetically modified. Anyone has suggestions on what to substitute the wheat and white flour for?

  31. I made these and loved them. The taste and the texture was so good. My husband did not care for the coconut oil though and did not eat it. I used the one from Trader joes but that has a very strong smell. I got the spectrum brand from Market street which has no smell. But I feel its better than any regular brownie and I love that it has no butter or sugar. (Well! I did add 1 tbsp of sugar with the honey;) Thank you for this.

  32. Just made these. I halved the batch and subbed coconut sugar instead of maple or honey. The batter was a little stiff, so I added a couple tablespoons of full fat organic yogurt to loosen it up. They came out really good. However, I am a fan of a fudgier brownie over a cakier one. I think next time I might try one reader’s idea of subbing some applesauce for part of the oil, and also I will make a full batch and still only use one egg. I will definitely make these again though. Good flavor and I guarantee my three year old will approve. So much better than the “boxed” brownies with canned icing that he came home with from his grandparents house last week. Way tooooo sweet.

    1. 4 stars
      I did add a little extra coconut sugar bc I am thinking that for the same volume, honey is sweeter than other sugars. I am loving my coconut sugar by the way! I use it in everything and it is such an easy switch. Expensive though. A little more motivation to eat it in moderation. ;)

  33. I would just like to point out that Hershey’s “Special Dark” cocoa powder is processed with alkali -aka ‘dutch processing’ which does cut down on some of the acidity but also takes away some of the cocoa’s nutrients. Cocoa on it’s own is light in color so when you buy the dark version you should know that you’re buying a more processed version of it. Dark chocolate doesn’t always mean it’s better for you!

  34. 4 stars
    Just made these and the flavor is incredible! They do fall apart really bad, though. I used one egg might try 2 next time. I also might add a banana like one of the previous posts suggested. Yummy! Thank you!

  35. I have found a local producer of sunflower oil. Will that work in place of the coconut oil? If I try it before you get a chance to respond, I will post the results…thanks!

  36. 4 stars
    A big hit with the 10 year old. Used one egg the first time and two the second and, although still dry the second time, they were better with 2 eggs. Love the chocolate coconut flavor from using coconut oil.

  37. I just made these and they came out really, really dry. Is it because I used whole wheat flour, not the white whole wheat listed in the recipe? I also can’t remember if I used one egg or two – why doesn’t the recipe specify? They were nice and chocolate though.

  38. I was wondering if you could substitute agave for the maple syrup/honey. And if so, would you use the same amount?

  39. 5 stars
    I just made these and really enjoyed them. I love that they are not too sweet., they have a really nice texture. These are going to be my go-to brownie from now on. My 4-year old loved them. Thanks for all of the great recipes!

  40. 5 stars
    I made these brownies last night but made a few changes. Instead of using an egg I used an overripe banana that I had in the freezer (thawed out of course). I chose to use honey instead of the maple syrup and added in chopped walnuts. I love the dark chocolate banana taste they have! I put the leftovers in a container and put them in the fridge and when I tried them today they had a nice fudgey texture.. they’re even better than they were last night :)

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