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Brownies can change a life

There are times when the emails pile up, texts are unanswered and phone calls go straight to voicemail.

That’s when I’m usually either drowning my sorrows eating or baking brownies. They get my full attention.

It’s weird to be that specific, but there’s a reason brownies are a saving grace. Stay with me.

A friend in college saw once I was going through a bit of a rough week. Looking back, I can’t remember what made it terrible, but I do remember one thing: a plate of massive-cut, fudge brownies.

Suddenly everything wasn’t so bad.

She bopped into the lab we would hang out in with our group of college friends, holding the plate.

“These are for you, Foxy.”

I do remember some tears and laughing, then getting the (green) mint icing she generously applied all over my face. I admit I was in my 20s at this point but I completely lost all manners and self-respect when she encouraged me to dive in.

She said the brownies were a pick-me-up because she saw I was stressed.

Not to sound too dramatic, but they truly made me feel better.

No one had ever done anything like that for me before. Not because everyone around me was cold or unsympathetic. It was more because food wasn’t quite a love language I’d experienced yet.

Since that day, I haven’t known any other way other than associating food with everything:

Weddings, graduations, ‘crafternoon’ sessions, boredom, wakes.

That plate of gooey goodness also introduced me to something else on a different level: chocolate.

Sure, I grew up drinking lots of chocolate milk, which up until 2023 was my favorite drink. But other than that, I didn’t really care much about it. Until that thoughtful plate from my thoughtful friend.

If I’m being honest, I still don’t care for chocolate, unless it’s in the form of a brownie.

Brownies are easily in my top five food favorites. When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2023, I wasn’t upset with the suggested dietary changes I was told I should make, even though I love carbs. The only thing that I knew I’d truly miss was brownies.

Luckily, only a couple of weeks into my largely gluten-free journey, I found the best recipe for brownies.

They’re not as completely perfect as that specific batch my friend made, but they are extremely close.

I’ve made them for the newsroom and so far, everyone has agreed they don’t taste gluten-free. They’re not healthy by any means, but I can still indulge in a brownie and go back to that day of fulfillment from a snack standpoint.

As for my friend — we are still friends about 20 years later, but our daily talks and plates of confections have morphed into annual ‘coffee and conversation’ dates. We — and I mean I — still bring up those brownies every single time.

Share your favorite recipes and memories with Features Editor Ashley Fox at afox@tribtoday.com.

Gluten Free Brownies

1 1/3 cups almond flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (can use regular sugar)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8×8 pan.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder and salt.

In a large bowl, stir melted oil, sugar and vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time.

Add dry mixture to the wet mixture. Incorporate.

Pour into the greased pan.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Cool completely.

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