Monday, January 23, 2012

Spinach Brownies

For those of you who may or may not know, I have been competing in a round of Biggest Loser competitions with some friends and neighbors. Last fall, I came in second, missing the money prize by 0.12% of my bodyweight.  So close! This time, the pot is bigger, and so has been my motivation. So far, I'm in first place, but there is one week left to go. I have the munchies badly, and I am craving some sweets. As I was thinking about it, I remembered a recipe I made back during the first round that never got shared with you. I'm thinking about making it again this week. In case you do, too, here's the recipe.   It's from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook called Deceptively Delicious, which is a collection of recipes that use vegetable purees in them, thus giving your kids (and you!) the nutrition they need in a sneaky mom sort of way.

I can't figure out how to get blogger to rotate the pictures correctly (it's correct on my hard drive, just didn't transfer to blogger right). At any rate, that is what her cook book looks like.

The recipe that most inrigued me in her cookbook, and the one I'm reviewing for you today is her Spinach Brownie recipe. Here's the ingredients:

3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup carrot puree
1/2 cup spinach puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp soft margarine spread
2 tsp vanilla
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

A while back, I was helping my mom go through her food storage and use up what was soon to expire. She had some carrot dices that were in dire need of being used, so we cooked them all up, pureed them all, then portioned them into small ziploc bags, perfect to be used as baby food, added to spaghetti sauce, smoothies, meatloaf, or in this case, brownies! So I already had my pureed carrots, I just needed the spinach. I popped open my can of THRIVE FD Spinach, rehydrated some in a tupperware with hot water (only takes about 1 minute), strained it out and stuck it in the blender.

When it's pureed, the Spinach turns into this green paste you see below. What a glorious shade of green!

So with my veggies pureed, I was ready to begin. Here are her instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease brownie pan.
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over very low heat. 
  • In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in the egg whites. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 bars.

So what did I think of the recipe? Well, the batter is not the kind you can pour into the pan like store bought mixes. It is very thick, so you'll need to spoon it into the pan and then smooth it out with spatula.

And while they were brown, there was something a little off about the shade of brown. Not unappetizingly so, but it was a bit different. Not that they looked green, but well, see for yourself. Of course maybe it was just the lighting in my kitchen.

So here's the final result. Jessica does say in her book that its important to let them cool all the way before eating. If you eat them warm, she says you can taste the spinach, but cooled, you can't. I tried both ways, and I don't know if I was tasting the spinach while it was warm, but it definitely was better once it was cooled.

Now, I must confess, I had bought the wrong kind of chocolate. I used unsweetened baking squares, and tried to sweeten them with Splenda. After making them, I still thought mine taste a little bitter rather than sweet. It was a very chocolaty flavor, but not a super sweet chocolaty flavor. I also noticed that my newly purchased baking squares had already expired 6 months ago, so I took those back to the store for a refund. Next time I make these, I will probably just use 3 oz of semisweet chocolate chips. But even with that, if you want a gooey brownie to sastisfy your brownie craving, this is not the brownie for you. 

If you want a chocolate fix that's healthy for you, this is a good option though. If you cut them into 12 pieces, each one only has about 133 calories, and bonus! Each one has 3 grams of fiber.  They are a very dense bar of intense, though not very sweet, chocolate flavor. I've tried the Fiber One 90 calorie brownies, and while those are sweeter, they weren't as chocolatey nor as filling. So this is a decent brownie for dieters. But what about for kids? Will kids eat them and get some veggie power out of it without knowing? See for yourself.

If you want to order some THRIVE Spinach, Carrots, or anything else, just contact me and I'll help you get the best prices.

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