I was requested to make a healthy brownie recipe for this month’s Ruly Ruth blog. I chose one with extremely accessible ingredients for everyone. It’s from:
The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals by Missy Chase Lapine.
There is more than one brownie recipe in this book–I chose the one that was the most simple: Quick Fixes for Store-Bought Brownie Mix.
If you are not familiar with The Sneaky Chef, her premise is to make family-friendly foods that have healthier alternatives in them. Almost all of the recipes in the book involve one of her purees. A puree is a mixture of fruits and/or vegetables often cooked and then blended to be perfectly smooth so they will blend seamlessly with the rest of the ingredients. In order to make most of the recipes in this book, you first need to make the puree called for in the recipe. The brownie recipe calls for the purple puree:
First, you boil the spinach. I will say the spinach should be loosely packed. I believe I packed my cups too full hence why the following picture of my puree is slightly more green than purple from the blueberries.
The puree took an extra 15 minutes to make–I made it at the same time I made the brownies. People who are die-hard Sneaky Chef fans make their purees for the recipes say Sunday night and either freeze them or refrigerate them for ease of access…but they are not too hard if you have the ingredients on hand.
The only other major substitution in this recipe is taking the 1/2 c of brownie mix out of the box and adding 1/2 cup of wheat germ. As you can see, the brownie mix once blended LOOKS like any other brownie mix you’ve ever made.
I will say in person the texture is a tiny bit different–I’d say a bit more runny because the wheat germ doesn’t absorb the liquid like the traditional flour mixture in the mix. But the taste is fabulous–the same as uncooked brownies.
Once baked, as you can see, the brownies look EXACTLY like normal brownies. And hot and fresh from the oven, you can’t tell the difference! I have the ULTIMATE picky eater–my son! And I mean PICKY!!!! I did NOT tell him what was in the brownies and he gobbled his up instantly–the ultimate test!! The rest of us really really like them as well. Now, once they’ve sat for about a day, I would say the texture is a bit different–he will not eat these day-old brownies. Hence make them to share! They are delicious! We do love them–and do try them at home! I did share one pan with a friend and she instantly called and reported she was shocked that they had spinach in blueberries in them too–her kids ate them instantly as well! This recipe is a winner—and who doesn’t need some extra antioxidants in their favorite dessert!! Enjoy!
**Notes from Anne: We eat a ton of brownies at our house so we will have to try this one someday. I still can’t quite get excited about putting spinach in the brownies, though. My girls also like to help cook so there wouldn’t be much “sneaking” in our case. Still, Ruth has inspired me! Also, a couple of health-related research links on these ingredients:
- Strawberries and Blueberries Halt Cognitive Decline in Elderly, Medical News Today, April 26, 2012
- Regular Chocolate Consumption Linked to Leaner Bodies, Medical News Today, March 27, 2012 (who can resist good news about chocolate?)