You Heart What You Eat: Nuts about blondie brownies |

You Heart What You Eat: Nuts about blondie brownies

Tera Johnson-Swartz/For Steamboat Today

This Blondie Brownie recipe by Tera Johnson-Swartz has a healthy twist to it of ingredients that she said the taste-tester may be oblivious to the “healthy ingredients” used. A perfect recipe for those with a sweet tooth.

This Blondie Brownie recipe by Tera Johnson-Swartz has a healthy twist to it of ingredients that she said the taste-tester may be oblivious to the "healthy ingredients" used. A perfect recipe for those with a sweet tooth.

— Trader Joe's has been one of those stores that you are either a die-hard supporter of or just an indifferent (usually inexperienced) bystander. I am definitely the former since my first encounter was when I was a wee college kid in Boston and one opened down the street from my dorm.

Coming from the Midwest and as a farmer’s daughter with little to no diversity in grocery shopping, I was completely in awe when I first crossed TJ's threshold to sample and fall in love with oddities like goat cheese and quinces, among too-many-to-list international flavors I'd never even heard of.

Since those days of old, I've remained a loyal TJ's supporter and even make special trips (or rely on my lovely in-laws when they're in Denver) to pick up some of the delicacies I simply cannot live without in my kitchen. One of which is the nut oil trio that is only available during the winter months. In a neat little box are three different nut oils – walnut, hazelnut and pistachio – that I savor and buy two to three at a time to ensure I can make it to the next year. Incidentally, they are usually gone by July.

Nut oils each have different health benefits, but hazelnut oil in particular is unique as it is often the secret ingredient in many culinary eateries dishes. These brownies had a particular calling for hazelnut (while I've used walnut before, I just felt in a Nutella-inspired mood), but you're welcome to try your own nutty favorite – go nuts!

Reducing the butter and putting some hazelnut oil brings not just a new flavor and smell but increases exponentially your vitamin E content in this dessert. Again, the honey and dates replace the empty benefits found in white and brown sugars with loads of vitamins and minerals, and the little bit of molasses keeps the flavor you'd find in brown and white sugars.

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The flaxseed, almond meal and oatmeal reduce the amount of flour (which I usually even replace with gluten-free flour) with some great fibers and proteins while the dark chocolate chips replenish my love of blondie brownies.

My mom came to visit this past month and helped me nibble these delectables and never once asked or thought twice about the "healthy ingredients" used, so I'd like to think if a fellow Midwesterner didn't notice it was good for them, it's gotta be a hit.

Nuts About Blondie Brownies

  • 1 stick of butter
1⁄2 cup hazelnut oil

  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1 cup date sugar (or just dated pre-ground up in a food processor)

  • 1 tablespoon molasses

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1⁄4 cup ground flaxseed

  • 3⁄4 cup almond meal
1⁄2 cup flour (whole wheat, white or even gluten-free)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (or less or more depending on your preference) dark chocolate chip pieces

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl add butter, nut oil, honey, dates or date sugar and molasses and blend until thoroughly whipped (about three to four minutes on medium to high for your mixer).

Add eggs and vanilla and mix until just blended. In a separate bowl combine oats, flaxseed, almond meal, flour, baking soda and salt. Add into the butter sugar mixture in small increments and stir until just blended.

Fold in dark chocolate chips and spread into a 9×9 pre-greased baking dish (or even easier, lined parchment paper).

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, cool slightly before cutting into small bite-sized pieces and enjoy!

You Heart What You Eat is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you'll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you'd like included in one of our future blogs should be directed to Tera Johnson-Swartz via email at

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first, but also enjoys working one of her many, many side gigs whether it be freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children  and couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.