I am still slowly collecting my thoughts from the trip to Expo West where I witnessed and tasted some of the best organic products on the market. To my surprise there were a few products that totally blew me away…. one of them being a brownie mix… but not your typical brownie mix. I like to make my deserts from scratch now but when there is a pre-made mix with the ingredients I saw and the rich decadent chocolate I tasted, anyone could be swayed and lured back into buying a pre-made baking mix at the drop of a hat.
Let’s first take a look at brownie mixes of the past….
Oh Duncan Hines – How many times did I make you as a kid growing up? COUNTLESS. Checking on the ingredients now makes me cringe… Bleached flour, trans fat, artificial flavors and the worst kind of processed sugar – powdered! All likely genetically modified too.
After my first trip to San Francisco, California after graduating high school, I discovered the brand Ghirardelli – so I immediately latched on to this brand name when I saw their brownie mix in the grocery store… Ghirardelli is a speciality chocolate maker, so naturally I felt a little special choosing this product over Duncan Hines. (Damn marketing… it will get you every time!) If you check out the ingredients of this mix – you’ll notice it is even worse than Duncan Hines – Sugar is the first ingredient, meaning this product is more sugar than anything else. But then it also has the bleached flour, trans fat and artificial flavor plus preservatives.
In my early working years right out of college, I became very “green” in my decision making, learning about my environmental impact in the world and eventually deciding to only buy organic. It’s funny because initially I bought organic to avoid commercial pesticides from being sprayed into the air to prevent them from harming the environment and air we breath… I wasn’t quite aware of what those chemicals were doing to my body. I didn’t make the connection to health until my health started to deteriorate and I had to make a significant change in prioritizing and caring about it more later in life.
Those years during my transition to organic foods – I immediately replaced all of my processed foods with organic ones. One of the first brands I switched to was Dr. Oetker. As you can see from the ingredient list below, this brownie mix is a huge step above the rest. No pesticides, no gmos, and no chemical processing. But….it still uses the deadly white flour and white sugar combo that I try to avoid when I make desserts. Note: Organic enriched wheat flour = white flour (don’t let them fool you, if they have to add back in the minerals and vitamins, you know they are stripping down the wheat)
So when I made it downstairs to the area of Expo West where all the less established companies and “new comers” were showcasing their innovative products (this is by far the most fun area of the expo) and saw Living Intentions raw cacao brownie mix made from sprouted flour – I almost lost it…. I immediately picked up the bag and looked at the ingredients first. After my jaw dropped open seeing the quality of product, I tasted the goods and OMG… those little bite size brownies were decadent, delicious, but most importantly outrageously nutritious!
It’s hard to point out the star ingredient in the list – there are so many.
The mix uses two different kinds of sugars – coconut palm sugar and dried cane juice crystals. I bet they used both of these to mimic the taste combination of white sugar and brown sugar that are sometimes commonly used in homemade brownies. The dried cane sugar crystals act like white sugar, even though it is sundried in Ecuador where it is grown in mineral rich soil, naturally brown and unrefined. The coconut palm sugar acts more like a brown sugar coming straight off the sap of a palm tree and dried. If I am baking and need graduated sugar – coconut palm is my choice every time. It’s less processed and doesn’t spike your insulin levels like refined cane sugar does. Dr. Oz recently discussed this phenomena and now it seems it is impossible to find this sugar at the store…
When’s the last time you saw maca root in your brownies?! What’s maca, you ask? Maca is a super nutrient dense whole food from Peru, that is known to increase energy, stamina and help your body’s endocrine system regulate stress hormones. Including this ingredient was another wow factor for me.
The directions even say to make the brownie mix with metabolism boosting coconut oil – Remember why I loooooove coconut oil from my famous Forever Cookies recipe?
If I had to pick one ingredient that would make me purchase this over any other mix on the market – it would be the use of sprouted flour. I’ve never seen this before in any baked goods mix and it really takes the whole realm of baking mixes and desserts to the next level nutritionally speaking.
Sprouted whole grain flour has a ton of health benefits over conventional flours. First it is easier to digest, sprouting can breaks down starches for you so your body doesn’t have to do the work, you actually end up digesting these flours like you would if you ate a vegetable. Secondly, sprouting increases the percentage of available vitamin count of your food – this is particularly important because the mineral content of our soil is lacking in so many ways and we aren’t getting the same nutrition we once did many years ago. And lastly, sprouting increases enzymes and neutralizes phytic acid which is a substance that decreases your absorption of key minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, cooper and zinc from the grains you consume.
So obviously the next question is – where do I get this sent from the heavens fantastically nutritious brownie mix?!!! Well… I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m pretty sure this is one of their new products that will be launching soon. I’ve reached out to the CEO of Living Intentions who I met at the show and will get back to you shortly on that… until then…My memories of California and Ghirardelli are slowly fading away and being replaced by this San Fran rock star company’s decadent chocolate treats. When you finally get to taste Living Intentions cacao brownie mix, you truly will be tasting something “special.”
Cheers to the Sweet Life!