Vegan Spinach Brownies

Oh yes: there's spinach in here!

Now that we have all had time to work off Anna’s Blueberry Cake, it’s time for another scrumptious, divinely delicious, vegan dessert! Introducing: Spinach Brownies! Oh yes, there are two cups of spinach in here and no one (except you) will ever know!

People ask me all the time: “I would love to use less animal products when preparing dishes, but how do I turn my husband on to vegan meals?”

Also, a common challenge: “How do I get my kids to eat more vegetables?”

I say: trick them! They don’t need to know exactly what they are eating at first, as long as it is good for them. Hide the veggies in foods, and use ingredients that are not animal-based, but just as tasty and create the same results. Once reluctant family members have tried the food and are commenting on how delicious it is, then you can explain to them the importance of eating vegan meals.

For example, there are many alternatives to eggs for recipes calling for eggs and using an egg substitute is just one option. Depending on what the eggs are needed for in the recipe (to make baked goods rise, to add moisture, to bind, etc.), we can learn useful tips for replacing eggs.

Everyone knows how healthy spinach is, but did you know that raw cacao has various health benefits too? Cacao is very high in magnesium, iron and antioxidants. The theobromine naturally found in raw cacao is a non-addictive stimulant that some people say can alleviate symptoms of depression, among other things. Cacao contains anandamide (from the Sanskrit word, ananda, meaning bliss), which is also a neurotransmitter created by our brains when we are blissing out. This explains the euphoric experience many claim to have while eating chocolate.

Often the terms cacao and cocoa are used interchangeably, however, there seems to be a slight distinction in most of the literature. “Cacao” is the actual bean that comes from the cacao tree, whose scientific name is Theobroma cacao. Cacao pods grow off the cacao tree and cacao beans are found inside these pods.

The beans are harvested, fermented, dried and roasted. The final product is often referred to as cocoa. In other words, cocoa is what the bean is called after it has been processed. Technically, if a product says raw cacao, it is supposed to be unprocessed, whereas cocoa is processed. However, this distinction is not always respected, as for example, the product I have right now in my cupboard says Premium Cocoa/Cacao Powder on the label, seemingly using the terms interchangeably.

These brownies are not only tasty, they are so quick and easy to make. You will need a blender to liquefy the spinach, but not much else is needed, aside from your oven. Also required are non-dairy chocolate chips. They are commonly found at health food stores. I get mine, and most of my weekly groceries, at the Tau, which has 5 locations in and around Montreal. All the ingredients for this recipe can be found there, but aside from the non-dairy chocolate chips which are harder to find, the other ingredients can be purchased at any grocery store.

Keep in mind that chocolate does not have to contain milk ingredients to be delicious, as you will see in next week’s unbelievably delicious non-dairy treat! I will show you how to make mini chocolate-cashew and hazelnut bites, with no milk and no sugar! Wow – you will surely impress your family and friends with those bite-sized pieces of heaven!

This recipe I learned from the renowned chef, nutritionist and dietician, Cynthia Sass. It is a big hit every time I make it. More than a few people have told me that these are the best brownies they have ever tasted. No one could believe there is spinach in them; likewise, no one could believe that they are vegan! Try them – they are sure to please. Enjoy, in joy and in health!

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup almond flour
1 cup raw cane sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon salt
½ cup water
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups raw spinach
⅓ cup dark chocolate chips (non-dairy)

1. Preheat oven at 350 ˚F.
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Blend all wet ingredients and spinach in a blender.
4. Combine blended wet ingredients with dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix well using a spatula.
5. Pour mixture into a rectangular glass baking pan.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick test indicates mixture is cooked (toothpick comes out dry).
7. Allow to cool before cutting pieces.
8. Puree any fresh fruit for topping in blender, with 4-5 tbsp. of unsweetened fruit jam. Blend and pour over each piece of brownie before serving, with a piece of fruit if desired.
9. Enjoy this (vegan) piece of heaven!

Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test…consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. ~Milan Kundera

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