National Brownie Day

It’s National Brownie Day! Does that mean that you have to choose between virtuous deprivation and chocolate decadence?

Not at all. Here are some ways to have the deliciousness without the decadence.

Willpower behaves a lot like a muscle. You can increase your store of willpower by exercising it — but you can also wear it out. If you spend the whole month of December resisting goodies, you’ll probably end up making bad choices before the holidays are over.

Instead, feed your family plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy lean protein, and a reasonable amount of holiday treats. Just follow our suggestions to keep your balance.

Make your treats tiny.


Early brownie recipes said to cut them into 1″ squares. Now you might see brownies 4″ square — with a scoop of ice cream on top. Small portions satisfy without overdoing it.

We made ours in a mini muffin tin. We pushed down the tops to make a small well for toppings.

Use healthier ingredients.

A classic brownie recipe with good quality dark chocolate, egg, flour, butter, and sugar is a better choice than a brownie mix containing partially hydrogenated fats and artificial flavors.

You can take it a step further, though.

We tried replacing some of the ingredients in the classic recipe — see our version below. In the picture, half the brownies are the healthier version and half are the classic. Can you tell the difference?


The original recipe is on the left, with the changes we made for our healthier version on the right:

  • 1 egg — we used two egg whites
  • 1/2 c. sugar — we used 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 T butter — we used 1 T canola oil plus 2 T unsweetened applesauce for moistness
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour — we swapped whole wheat flour
  • 6 oz. high-quality 70% cacao chocolate — no changes

Both recipes were delicious, with a lingering chocolate flavor. The original version was sweeter and more moist, but tasters enjoyed both versions.

Add healthy ingredients


We added homemade unsweetened applesauce to our brownie batter, and it tasted entirely like chocolate. We’ve heard of people adding pureed beets, black beans, or nonfat yogurt to up the nutrition content of their brownies. Experiment!

But we also added healthy ingredients in the toppings, using fruit and nuts instead of chocolate ganache or sugary frosting. The winners in our taste test were quartered sliced bananas with nuts — “Like a sundae!” testers said — and chopped pecans and dried cranberries combined.


Use these same ideas to cut your favorite holiday treats down to size so you and your family can enjoy holiday flavors without regrets.