Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

April 14, 2016

Easy + Healthy Protein Brownie Recipe (Plus Tips for Baking with Coconut Flour and Protein Powder)

Since the fall, I've been diligently focused on my health and well being.  Obviously I still enjoy a treat every now and then (yum, matcha tea shortbread!), and then there was that late night emergency vet visit that saw Hubby and I drive 20 minutes deeper into the sticks, where we ate a delicious bacon double cheeseburger in the parking lot of a skating rink at 10pm.  But, on the whole, we've really started eating healthier around here.
Sugar-free Protein Brownie Recipe
Healthy eating dessert

Because we still enjoy a sweet treat every now and then, I've been baking with coconut flour and almond flour, substituting sugars (even maple syrup and honey) with Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar-approved brown rice syrup, and sneaking in a little whey protein (to make baked goods more diabetic-friendly).  I've always loved baking, but switching to these new ingredients has really thrown me for a loop because they change the flavor and texture of food quite dramatically!  A lot of the recipes I've tried from Pinterest turned out to be disappointing, gritty flops, which is why I decided to just start from scratch and develop my own healthier spin on a baked treat.

The grain-free, refined sugar-free brownie recipe I shared recently was one I came up with through trial and error, adapting an old zucchini and date cake I used to make, but ultimately changing almost every ingredient!  It turned out to be so delicious and moist and sweet - it was the breakthrough I needed to keep experimenting!  Since then, I've had a few more flops (both of my own creation and from online sources), but there have been a couple of recipes that have turned out deliciously good!
In my quest for tasty sugar-free desserts, I thought I'd share recipes I find that are a success - in addition to my own original concoctions - because I know so many of you are struggling to cut back on sugar too.

Healthy Brownie Recipe

This avocado brownie recipe is an adaptation of one I found online and it's so decadent!  I didn't change much, because it was already pretty perfect, but I did make a few substitutions: swapping out the maple syrup for brown rice syrup, adding some protein powder so it's extra filling, and ditching the applesauce in favor of my own fruity sauce (which is totally optional)!  


For this recipe, I added a fruity twist by making my own quick fruit sauce using frozen mango, peach, and strawberry mix.  It added a nice, soft flavor but not as much sweetness as a ripe banana or even unsweetened applesauce tends to lend baked goods.  I want to try this with different fruit combinations - imagine it with a homemade raspberry sauce!    

Baking without sugar
Avocado brownie recipe

  1. Cook the frozen fruit for a few minutes to boil off some water (or skip this step and use a pre-made applesauce)
  2. Combine the peeled avocado, fruit mixture, brown rice syrup and vanilla in a food processor until pureed.
  3. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the 3 eggs.
  4. Sift the coconut flour, protein powder, cocoa, salt, and baking soda (don't skip this step!)
  5. Stir the sifted mixture into the avocado mixture and combine thoroughly.
  6. Pour into a greased, 8x8 pan
  7. Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (your oven may vary)
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
  9. Store in a covered container in the fridge once cooled for maximum freshness!

Tips for baking with coconut flour

3 Tips for Baking with Coconut Flour and Protein Powder

One: I've been baking a lot with protein powder and my best tip is to sift, sift, sift.  Whisking the coconut flour, cocoa powder, protein powder and baking soda is a key step in achieving a smooth, velvety brownie.  If you skip this step, the protein powder and coconut flour want to clump and you'll end up with pockets of dry flour in the baked brownie.

Two: Add cocoa powder!  My biggest complaint with coconut and almond flour is the texture, but recipes with a lot of cocoa powder have a more familiar, velvety smooth texture thanks to the fine cocoa powder.

Three: Add more eggs!  If you're experimenting a little on your own, trying to adapt old recipes, take a look at how many eggs coconut flour recipes have - lots.  Don't be alarmed if you need more egg!

How to add protein to desserts

I am absolutely in smitten with these healthy(ish) brownies!  The original recipe from The Healthy Maven was delicious and with a couple of substitutions, these brownies are more in line with Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar program, plus the protein powder means they're a more filling treat and my diabetic Dad can even enjoy one, every now and then!

Diabetic-friendly recipes
Brownies diabetics can eat in moderation
Clean eating brownie recipe

Do you have any go-to recipes for a healthier spin on baked treats?  Have you tried quitting sugar too?  I've baked my way through some real duds, so I'd love any recommendations!

Healthy Avocado Protein Brownie Recipe (Plus Tips for Baking with Coconut Flour and Protein Powder)


  1. They look yum Tanya!! Seriously, what can't you do!:)

    1. Thanks! Maybe one day I should share a post with all of my failed DIY projects and inedible recipes, lol. I tend to only share the highlight reel here ;)

  2. I may have just licked my computer screen ... these look so good! x

    1. Haha! That's such good feedback. Sometimes I'll be looking for a recipe online and, I swear, I start to drool a little...

  3. Thanks Tanya, your recipe looks really good; I just purchased Sarah Wilson's cookbook so I'm excited about lots of her recipes too.

    1. Which cookbook did you buy? I only have her sugar detox/cookbook combo but I think she has a couple others. You'll have to let me know how the recipes turn out! If it's a different book than what I have, I'd love to hear some feedback!

  4. I love having sugary snacks when I'm on the job, but I always end up crashing a half-hour later. These sound PERFECT! And I'd never thought to include protein powder before. That's kind of brilliant. Thank you, Tanya!

    1. Happy to help, Matt. You can sneak in some protein powder into any of your favorite sweet snacks. My diabetic dad even mixes some into his oatmeal so it's more filling, for longer.


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