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These Honey Cherry Walnut Brownies, inspired by The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, are a decadent, gluten-free treat that is bursting with flavor and nutrition from delicious sweet cherries and hearty walnuts for a new twist on a classic favorite.
Honey Cherry Walnut Brownies
Delicious brownies that are made with good-for-you ingredients? You’ve found them!
These Honey Cherry Walnut Brownies have everything you could ever want in a brownie: decadent chocolate, sweet and tangy cherries, and the satisfying crunch of heart-healthy walnuts.
All of these delicious ingredients have one thing in common, they are a staple in the ever popular Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. There is a focus on replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil, as well as using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
This diet is not entirely plant based, but there is a push to limit red meat to no more than a few times a month, while enjoying alternate animal-based products such as dairy and fish. Additionally, it is recommended to limit the consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
While I don’t believe that one single diet is right for everyone, I do believe that the Mediterranean diet is about as close as you will get to a diet that works for the majority of the population.
I mean, who doesn’t love living a lifestyle that emphasizes all the best foods in the world – including cheese, chocolate and wine 😉
But don’t just take my word for it, The Mediterranean Diet has tied for 1st place when ranked for the best diets in the world according to US News and World Report.
The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook
The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook – 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health was written by two of my dear friends and mentors, Serena Ball, MS, RDN and Deanna S
Business partners and great friends, together Deanna and Serena run the popular blog Teaspoon of Spice and have written the most beautiful, useful cookbook for cooks of all ages and experience levels.
Inside The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook you will find:
- Guidelines for eating the Mediterranean way, as well as a guide for navigating your supermarket
- 101 delicious recipes that follow the Mediterranean diet, and take no longer than 30 minutes to make (which means it’s easier to turn eating this way into a habit.)
- Better-for-you ingredients found in your local grocery store.
- Recipes that focus on whole foods, not overly processed or pre-made items
- Mediterranean-style recipes you can enjoy even if you have an allergy or want to eat a special diet, such as Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Vegetarian or Vegan
- Prep tips and Ingredient tips that give you even more shortcuts and insight into cooking the Mediterranean way
- Nutritional information with each recipe
Heart Healthy Ingredients
Honey, a natural nectar made by bees, is a naturally soothing ingredient that contains powerful nutrients and enzymes that have been used in natural medicinal remedies for thousand of years.
Unlike refined sugars like granulated white sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, which can cause a host of problems in the body if consumed too frequently, honey is considered to be an all-natural sweetener.
Honey is a good source of antioxidants and important phytonutrients that help to keep our bodies running and functioning at their best. It also contains naturally occurring anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
While dried cherries are a concentrated source of energy and naturally occurring sugars, they also contain many important nutrients, one of the most important being antioxidants. These antioxidants work against free radicals in the body and help to protect our cells.
Cherries are also an important source of anti-inflammatory properties which can help to defend and boost the immune system. Additionally, they are a great source of natural fiber, potassium, copper, protein, iron, and carbohydrates.
Walnuts, one of the most healthful nuts, have been prized for their nutritious benefits for many years. Shaped like a human brain, it is thought that walnuts have the ability to boost brain power and performance. This thought is supported by their very high omega-3 fatty acid content.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the good types of heart healthy fats that can help to protect our brain and to lower the risk of developing the most deadly chronic disease we face today – heart disease. These omega-3’s also help to prevent and calm inflammation in the body.
You want me to tell you chocolate is good for you – right?
Well good news – the darker your chocolate, the healthier it is! Made from the seeds of a cocoa tree, this plant-based wonder is full of antioxidants and health promoting properties.
The key to getting the healthiest option out there is to opt for a dark chocolate with around 70-85% cocoa concentration – this will help you get in those important nutrients like iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Recipe Notes & Substitutions
I did not follow the recipe exactly, I made some substitutions along the way to accommodate my dietary preferences and to use up some of the ingredients I already had on hand.
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – I prefer to stick with gluten-free flour when baking, so I simply substituted the 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour called for in the recipe with 1/2 cup of all-purpose gluten-free baking flour. You can choose to use whichever flour you prefer, but note that often times changing the type of flour in a recipe will change the overall consistency.
Fresh or Frozen Cherries – I sure wish I had fresh or frozen cherries when making these brownies, but alas I only had dried sweet cherries. I substituted 1/3 cup dried sweet cherries for the fresh or frozen cherries called for in the recipe and folded them in when I added the walnuts. It turned out perfect and each bite has a bit of juicy cherry flavor.
Photography – Don’t leave your photo shoot set for too long, or you may just find a new tractor set up when you get back 😉
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large farm fresh eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and set the rack in the middle of the oven. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a stand mixer bowl or large bowl, beat the sugar, honey, and oil until well blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in the yogurt until the batter is smooth.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated. Mix in the walnuts.
- Pour the better into the prepared pan. Push the cherries into the batter, three to a row in three rows, so one will be at the center of each brownie once you cut them into squares.
- Bake the brownies for 18-20 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes or so. Cut into nine squares and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: brownie
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 240 Saturated Fat: 1.5g Cholesterol: 40mg Sodium: 135mg Carbohydrates: 33g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 25g Protein: 4g