Healthyass Coconut Brownies

I wanted to lie to you about what these brownies are because they’re “Paleo” and I don’t feel like explaining that I’m not Paleo because it goes against everything I believe about food and health and brownies but that I’m still totally eating Paleo for 28 days because I’m a walking contradiction and am genuinely curious about why people do it and if it’s even possible for a vegetarian to survive without all the things you’re not allowed to eat. (Which is everything.)


I don’t know how it happened, exactly, but I put about as much thought into this little experiment as I do most other things in my life: 45 seconds.¬†What ha’ happened was… A few of my friends were going to work out at Fight Gone Mad and then hang around for the following nutrition lecture. And I was like, “Ok I’m in.” That was it.

So here I am a week into the 28-to-Life program making brownies out of dates and figs and being all, “Are those Starbursts Paleo?”

I’m not going to get into what this diet is or whether or not I think it’s a good idea or whether or not I’d recommend it to other people. Yet. I’m giving it the full 28 days first and then I’ll report back. For now I’ll say that I feel awesome but that I doubt it will last much longer considering the severely low protein intake trap vegetarians fall into when you take away their beans, lentils, rice, peanuts, soy, dairy, etc. I think there are components of the Paleo diet I can agree with and support, and there are others I simply can’t get behind. I predict that I’ll walk away from this with some things to add to my all-vegetarian, heavily-vegan, pro-baked-goods, occasionally-raw-and-gluten-free-on-accident lifestyle and some things to leave in the “no, thank you” pile.

Anyway, let’s eat brownies.

This recipe is not mine. I found it on PaleOMG, a popular paelo recipe blog that I find to be pretty delightful even as a non-paleo eater.

Recipe: Magic Brownie Bars

Several substitutions I made:

  • 10 medijool dates and 5 dried figs (because I ran out of dates)
  • almond meal instead of coconut flour (because I didn’t have any)
  • maple syrup instead of honey (because I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk (because I don’t know what coconut cream concentrate is)
I’d like to tell you that I did not eat this entire pan in four days, but the theme of this post is not lying to you so… There’s that.
For having no flour, they’re surprisingly cake-like. And sweet enough despite limited sweetener thanks to lots of fruit.

These do not taste like real brownies and if you’re into super-decadent desserts, they probably won’t appeal. But if you’re eating nothing but eggs and vegetables and fruit and for four weeks, they’re kind of the best thing ever.

I suppose the real question is whether or not I’d make these again after the 28 days is up, and the answer is: YEP. So that’s gotta count for something.

Seriously though, let’s hold the Paleo questions and critique debate until I’m done. I promise I’ll give a full report on what I experience, how the “science” of Paleo weighs against the “science” I’ve studied, the food that is awesome, the food that sucks, etc.

18 thoughts on “Healthyass Coconut Brownies

  1. This post actually makes me so so happy. I do CrossFit and everyone is all “Paleo”. I work in cardiology and find myself in the “mostly gluten-free, vegetarian-ish, sometimes I accidentally bake lots of chocolate chip cookies” diet category. There’s just something about it being ok to eat bacon on bacon but you can’t eat peanuts or beans that just doesn’t sit well with me….or my training in cardiology. Also, the whole “if I’d rather be vegetarian, how do I eat Paleo” problem. So I am super excited to see what you think of all this and how you make it work! Keep us updated!

  2. Ok, I’m going to get the awkwardness out of the way and admit to totally still being a blog lurker (you can blame Moon) but I really do like you’re writing, and I’m glad you’re back. So, anyway, hi :)

    Very funny you posted this today, I am sitting on the couch reading my sisters new paleo cookbook. I’m intrigued enough to try it, maybe for the month of March, but am very interested to hear your take on the experience because even as a meat eater I can barely wrap my mind around steak for breakfast. Take away my black beans on top of that? I’m not even sure who I am anymore.

  3. I like your “take what you like and leave the rest” approach. There are different ways to approach any diet, for better or for worse. Some people do the Paleo baconfest and drown in ribeyes, some find it a good structure to incorporate a healthy balance with lots of variety. I have friends that love Weight Watchers and making their own healthy, fresh dishes and others that eat processed salt blocks from a freezer. Find what works for YOU and you are set! I would definitely break the law to have those brownies materialize at my door right now. Glad you are back!

  4. Agree! I do follow a somewhat paleo diet – still eat my cheese and yogurt though – and my digestive issues have improved tremendously on it. My diet is still mostly plant-based with a small portion of eggs/fish/meat with meals – not bacon everyday like a lot of paleo people do. I try to focus on nutrient-dense foods and still eat a good amount of carbs, like sweet potatoes, squash, fruit, and high-quality, preferably local, protein. The research, especially on gluten, is growing and pretty solid, and the research behind saturated fat and cholesterol is relatively weak. I’m a dietetic intern, so it kinda goes against everything I’ve been taught about whole grains & beans, but as long as it’s well-planned and nutrient dense, it can be a very healthy diet. I think paleo gets a bad name because people think it’s only super low carb or a pound of meat per meal, but it’s just like any diet – it can be nutrient dense or not.

  5. I am a vegetarian as well but try to eat Veggie Paleo as often as possible. As much as I love bread and baked goods I feel so much better when I’m eating a lot of nuts and fresh veggies. The best paleo brownie recipe I’ve found is from Elana’s Pantry:

    Best of luck on your endeavour and I can’t wait to hear about your experiences!

  6. Vegetarian + Paleo just doesn’t sound like a good combination to me (I say this with all love & respect). The brownies do look delicious, though! :)

  7. I’ve been doing the vegetarian-paleo thing this week too. My stomach’s been freaking out on me lately so I thought I’d try it out for a couple weeks, see how I feel and then start adding things back in to figure out what my stomach is freaking out about. I don’t plan to live without oatmeal or cake, that’s not a life I want to live, but I’m surprised by how much energy I have! I’m still waiting for the day where steak starts to look delicious again because I don’t think 30-40 grams of protein is going to cut it, but until then I’m feeling awesome.
    I think that’s the long way of saying those brownies look delicious and I will be making them ASAP.

  8. I though the whole point of paleo is that you’re supposed to eat over 50% of your calories in meat. Like, eating daily meat is as much a requirement as avoiding grains. I don’t think vegetarian-paleo could be a thing by definition.

    I actually got into this blog because it’s one of the few that posts meals that are healthy and NOT paleo. Paleo is such a fad-cult-thing in the food blogger world right now that I kind of want to gouge my eyes out when yet another blogger decides to do the “oh hai I’m paleo now” thing.

    That crabbiness aside, “paleo” baked goods are generally baller. I’ve made some killer coconut flour muffins and almond meal cookies.

    • Right. Again, I’m not paleo or endorsing a paleo diet. I’m doing a personal experiment with it because people often ask me “Is (insert diet here) healthy for me?” and I’d like to be able to answer intelligently. I can research, of course, but I think a little personal experience is warranted.

      • But is it really personal experience with the paleo diet if you’re missing a huge chunk of the diet? Most of the paleo peeps are pretty clear about meat being an nonnegotiable part of the diet. Much of the diet centers around the nutrients that you (supposedly) get from eating large amounts of animal fat and protein, especially red meat.

        I don’t really have an issue with paleo, I ate primal-ish at one point, but I gave it up because I couldn’t handle the meat (ethically or physically) and I just don’t see how the two go together. But hey, it’ll be interesting to see what you come up with anyway.

  9. Long time lurker here…anyway, I’d just like to say that I’m really curious and looking forward to seeing what you’ll take away from this experience. I was pretty much vegetarian all of last year (not really for ethical reasons…I frankly just never really learned how to cook meat and hate touching raw meat) and now I eat tons of eggs with a little chicken, fish and the occasional beef thrown in. My dr recommended I cut out gluten and eat paleo-ish (not cutting out legumes, but focusing more on lean protein and produce than grains, etc.). I’ve gone gluten-free and don’t eat as many grains (I know eat my weight in sweet potatoes) and I certainly haven’t given up dairy (I’m a Greek yogurt and cheese fiend) but I have noticed I’m less bloated and my digestion seems better…don’t know if that’s just from going gluten-free or from cutting back grains in general. I’m interested to see how you’ll feel

  10. paleo is all the rage now! I feel like everyone is giving it a shot. I might try a recipe here and there, but I don’t think i’ll be diving into that diet style anytime soon. Interested to see how you feel after the 28 days!

  11. There is only so long one can feel awesome living life without peanut butter. LOL.
    (Sorry I couldn’t help it)
    So interested to hear your final verdict!

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