Last week I spoke at the Kenmore Live Studios in Chicago for a Families in the Loop event. It was a pre-Mother's Day event, largely geared around food, fitness and style. I was there to give a few tips on how to stay healthy, but the real star of the show was Beth Aldrich, who whipped up the most amazing raw brownies, among other dishes.

Raw dishes are instantly appealing to me for two big reasons:

1) Food in its raw form (at least most food) is more nutrient dense than cooked foods
2) I don't have to turn on my oven and wait for something

The brownies are good. They're also flourless, which makes them really dense. So a little goes a long way! Dark chocolate, super decadent brownies. They're also gluten free! The reason that they make the cut for this blog is because the ingredients are indeed healthy. Walnuts, dates, dried fruit and cacao - all good!

The reason I say they're an "adult dessert" is because they're made with cacao powder and cacao nibs (as opposed to the closely related cocoa). This means they're packed with chocolate, but not as sugary. If you'd rather convert this into a brownie that is made with cocoa powder and chocolate problem. See the recipe below.

Raw Brownies
3 cups raw walnuts
16 pitted dates
1/2 cup dried fruit (like raisins or cranberries)
2/3 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs (or mini carob/choc. chips)

Process walnuts in food processor until ground up, slowly add the pitted dates and process. Next, slowly add in the cacao powder and dried fruit and process. Gently, pulse in, the cacao nibs to keep them partially chunky in the "dough".  Press the mixture into a square, glass baking dish and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to "set". Serve  2" squares topped with sliced berries or powdered sugar.

This recipe is one of the many delicious finds in Beth Aldrich's new book, Real Moms Love to Eat (Penguin Books, January, 2012) due out in January, 2012. Follow Beth on Twitter @RealMomsLuv2Eat for book tour and contest updates!