Celebrate self love with brownies (gluten free, vegan recipe)


I catch myself in the mirror sometimes. I watch my hair fall over my shoulders, my lips as I smile. I see the laugh lines around my eyes and the dimples I never thought I had. I see my legs and my feet and I feel grateful for each and every toe, each and every step I take. I feel the air flow in and out of my lungs and for a moment, I love them. I love how the they expand and contract. I am grateful for the very breath in my lungs. And then there are moments, quiet ones that catch me off guard, when I can feel my heart beating in my chest.

I used to hate the resounding thud of my heart in my chest. It had a habit of loving too much and getting nothing in return. My heart was always heavy with sadness and guilt. When the people that were supposed to love me hurt me, what else was I to do with the sadness? Living with depression and growing up in an alcoholic home was a struggle I would never wish on anyone.

It cut me down to by very core and made my heart hurt every day until it went numb. I learned to hated myself and my shortcomings. I felt guilty for doing something for me. I felt guilty doing something for someone other than my dysfunctional family. I felt if I gave love to everyone in the world, someone out there would love me back the way I wanted to be loved. I thought if I gave enough of myself someone would give me back a piece or two to make a whole.

Flash forward several years later and I experience these small moments of love. Catching myself in the mirror and relishing ever step and every breath.

So this year on valentines days I am not celebrating romantic love but self love. I am celebrating the work I’ve done to heal myself and my broken heart. Valentines day this year is about celebrating those moments that I love myself. It goes beyond food, and beyond healing the body. Today is about feeding the soul.


That being said, I developed this recipe to feed the soul without hurting the body, as most treats are wont to do. True emotional healing cannot happen until the you take care of the body. So, this recipe is to feed the soul and nourish the body. I created a rich, oil free, vegan, refined sugar free and gluten free brownie. Served with chocolate sauce, raspberry compote and soy vanilla ice cream.

This brownie is made with Japanese sweet potato. It’s a white fleshed potato with a purple skin. The flesh tends to be starchier and less “stringy” like a typical orange sweet potato. I prefer the Japanese potato in this because of its higher starch content. But feel free to substitute a regular sweet potato if you can’t find the Japanese or have some laying around.

I hope you make these brownies to celebrate your own self love this valentine’s day. And maybe share some of that love with someone special too.



Fudgy Vegan, Oil Free Brownies

Yields 9 brownies

2 C (14 oz) Japanese sweet potato roasted whole and cooled

1 C (8.5 oz) almond butter

½ C (4.5 oz) almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice

½ C (1.4 oz) cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt


Raspberry Compote

1 C (3.65 oz) raspberries (frozen or fresh if in season)

1 Tbsp date paste or maple syrup


Chocolate sauce

2 Tbsp date paste

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Water to make the sauce flow across the plate


For the brownies

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2.       Peel the sweet potatoes and mash them very well in a large bowl. Alternatively, you can mix all of the wet ingredients in a blender or food processor for a smoother consistency.

3.       Add the almond butter and almond milk. Mix until smooth

4.       Add the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, mix until combined. If you still have lumps feel free to mash some more with a manual potato masher. Since these are gluten free there is no fear of overmixing the batter.

5.       Grease and line a 8”x8” square pan with parchment paper. Pour in the batter and smooth out the top.

6.       Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes until risen slightly and sides pull away from the pan. These brownies are fudgy so the center will be deliciously moist.

7.       Cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into 9 pieces.


For the Raspberry Compote

1.       Place the raspberries, date paste and two tablespoons of water in a pot

2.       Cook until the raspberries start to break down a little

3.       Pour into a clean bowl or jar and cool


For the Chocolate sauce**

1.       Mix together the date paste and cocoa powder.

2.       Add enough water to create the consistency you want in the sauce.


To serve:

 Warm up the brownie if desired. Top with compote, chocolate sauce and vanilla soy ice cream. I got my ice cream from Trader Joes.


*Date paste is made by soaking whole, pitted dates in water and blending them in a blender or food processor until it forms a smooth paste

**Try the sauce on ice cream, or wherever you would use store bought chocolate sauce. I haven’t tried making chocolate milk with it, but I’m sure it would be delicious!

Ali LawrenceComment