Maple pecan brownies (bonus: they are dairy- and gluten-free)

Try this healthy take on a favorite treat, which calls for grated zucchini and almond butter rather than flour. The recipe is also dairy-free and can be adapted to be vegan. 

Beyond the Peel
Delicious brownies are always a welcomed treat. This recipe keeps things sweet but also includes zucchini and almond butter.

You’re probably thinking, “Another brownie recipe?” Brownies twice in one month? Crazy. Overkill? I don’t think so. At least not in the current circumstances.

My sweet little dog died recently. Shasta was 10. We rescued her at 6-1/2. We hope we gave her a good life, that we did right by her. Gosh, I miss her little face, her little cheesy Dorito smell she gives off when she’s all curled up and sleeping like a log. Her big begging eyes that say “I’m not begging, but if you loved me you’d share.” (But not chocolate, of course.)

Hence the brownies. To find some comfort.

So next time you’re sad or just need a treat, please bookmark these to try. They really are delicious in all the right ways a brownie should be. I’ve also included some variations for those of you who like to change things up.

This brownie recipe, like the last, is relatively healthy, but not so "healthy" that the brownies don’t taste good. This one is unique in that it only requires 1/2 cup of sweetener. The best part? You’d never know it.

Even better than that? The glue that holds this recipe together is zucchini and almond butter. No flour or flour substitutes. You’d never know that this recipe is almost made up entirely of vegetables. How awesome is that? This recipe will even hold up if you choose to not use egg and use an egg replacement instead. So essentially, this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, uses only natural sweeteners, and can be altered for vegans. I love that!

If you really want to hide the zucchini, peel it before grating. If a little fleck of green (like any other zucchini cake) doesn’t bother you, than leave it as is.

Maple pecan brownies
Inspired by Karielyn at The Healthy Family and Home

1 cup natural almond butter

1-1/2 cups grated zucchini

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup raw cacao or cocoa

1 egg (vegans use 1 egg replacement)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon maple extract (or use 2 teaspoons of vanilla)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pecans (toasted pecans will give a better flavor profile)

Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Pour mixture into an 8- by 8-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. Smooth the top with a spatula.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


The recipe will work with an egg replacement. You can also use honey or agave and forsake the maple flavor and these will still be delicious.

Nut allergy? Switch out the almond butter for sunflower seed butter and use carob or chocolate chips instead of pecans.

Peanut butter brownies: Substitute natural peanut butter for almond butter. Omit maple extract and use 2 teaspoons vanilla. Switch the nuts to peanuts or chocolate chips.

Orange espresso brownies: Substitute 2 teaspoons orange zest for maple extract, use honey instead of maple syrup and add 1 teaspoon of espresso powder (or instant coffee). Try it with Espresso Icing! Yum.

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