Spinach Brownies Revisited (Now It’s Nut-Free!)

March 4, 2013 in Categories: , , , , , by

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I haven’t made these brownies in a very long time; but over the weekend, I found myself promising my kids that I would make them a treat.  For them, that means something with chocolate in it.  So, I decided it was a good excuse to give an old recipe a bit of a revamp.

When I first developed this recipe, I was having some difficulty getting my kids to eat vegetables (and at the time, my oldest wasn’t even eating fruit), so hiding some spinach into this recipe was really about just plain old hiding spinach in something.  But, I also discovered that the spinach really helped the texture of these brownies (we all know how tricky grain-free baking can be).  The original recipe made for a very delicious, but very cake-like in texture, brownie.  I had always intended on revisiting this recipe to see if I could get more of a chewy textured brownie, ideally with that slightly crisp top that traditional brownies have.

So, I gave this a go with my new found best friend: the plantain.  I hadn’t intended on making this a nut-free recipe (although I was trying to steer clear of ground flaxseed and coconut flour), but by the time I needed to add any almond flour, the batter was quite thick and I decided to try it without.  I’m glad I did because it worked perfectly! Also, while I was at it, I decided to tone down the sweetness a bit to accommodate our more sensitive palates.

A note on green plantains:  Plantains look a little like large bananas and are often found close to bananas in the grocery store (they are also called raw bananas in some countries).  Green plantains are, well, green and the greener the better typically (they are starchier and have a more neutral flavor).  They can be a bit challenging to peel.  I like to cut in half lengthwise and in half crosswise and hen pry off the peel with my fingers.  I typically stock up on green plantains when they have them in the store.  They will stay green in a crisper for about 5-7 days (the peel will look like they are ripening but they are still green on the inside).  I often buy a bunch, puree them in my food processor and then freeze in 1 cup portions in freezer bags for easy use for making pancakes or baking.  Plantains turn first yellow and then get black spots and then almost completely black as they ripen.  For any recipe that uses ripe plantains, the blacker the better.  Plantains can range from white to yellow to orangey pink inside, which doesn’t seem to affect how they cook but does affect the color of the baking (not relevant for this recipe but this is why people find their pancakes turning anywhere from white to dark brown).  I have come to love plantains as a flour substitute, especially for anything I want to have a chewy texture.

A note on chocolate:  I always look for organic chocolate (typically sweetened with evaporated cane juice) and am very picky about looking for chocolate that is completely dairy-free (usually pretty easy, as long as you stick with semisweet or darker) and soy-free (much more challenging).  One of my Go To brands is Enjoy Life (which comes in chunks and in mini chocolate chips).  I’m also a huge fan of Equal Exchange (their 80% is our Go To snacking chocolate, but I also use their 71% and 65% in baking).  Typically semisweet chocolate is about 55-60% cocoa, which isn’t very difficult to find organic and dairy-free but a little harder to find soy-free. Most people tolerate the small amount of soy lecithin in chocolate, and if you are one of these people Dagoba brand is a good one to look for.   I typically consider my 65% Equal Exchange close enough to semisweet for baking.

I’ve posted some very potently chocolatey recipes lately (like Decadent Double Chocolate Cookies (Nut-free, Coconut-free, Egg-free) and Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Sandies or Meltaways)), but these brownies are a bit more traditionally chocolatey (so, not the uber intense flavor of those other treats), which I think works well as a brownie and also as a treat for my kids.

This makes a 9″x13″ tray of brownies, which I cut into 24 generously sized squares.  Store in an airtight container for a couple of days at room temperature or in the fridge or freezer for longer.

Spinach Brownies (Nut-Free) | The Paleo Mom

 Ingredients:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Line a 9”x13” baking pan with wax paper or use a silicone baking pan.
  2. Melt coconut oil and chocolate together over low heat on the stove top or medium power in the microwave.  Add vanilla and stir to incorporate.  Let cool.
  3. Mix cocoa powder,  baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Blend spinach, plantain, egg, honey and molasses together in a  food processor or blender, until completely smooth (2-4 minutes).
  5. Add palm shortening to food processor and process until full incorporated.
  6. Add melted chocolate mixture to egg mixture slowly and processing/blending constantly.
  7. Mix in dry ingredients and process/stir to fully incorporate.
  8. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and spread out with a spatula.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Spinach Brownies (Nut-Free) | The Paleo Mom
Watch this video from my YouTube Channel to learn more about green plantains:

 

Comments

I’m referring to unsweetened carob. The unsweetened doesn’t have additional sugar in it, does it, or are you just saying carob in general is sweet?

I am really loving all your plantain recipes! I made your plantain crackers for a party this past weekend. I still have three green plantains leftover, not to mention various cookies and other paleo or gluten-free treats. Great idea to puree and freeze them so that I don’t feel like I have to make another treat before the plantains ripen.

Oh, and your link to palm shortening goes to a tropical traditions coconut oil page. Are coconut oil and palm shortening the same thing and/or interchangeable?

I’ve been having bad reactions to bananas lately (must be a FODMAP thing?) and I wondered if plantains are the same in that regard? I’d love to try one!

Ripe bananas are low FODMAP, green ones are moderate. Could be a latex allergy? Anyway, if it’s FODMAPs, green plantains are low FODMAP. If it’s an allergy, plantains will probably be a problem too.

Thank you. I thought I was fine with very ripe bananas, but I had a terrible reaction last week. Ok, I think at this point I’m too scared to try plantains, haha. Thank you for your reply!

Just made these for the first time and have a few comments: 1. YOU ARE A GENIUS! 2. The semi-sweet chocolate + coconut oil + vanilla is simply amazing all by itself. 3. I ended up dumping the blender and using a hand mixer to add the dry ingredients, this resulted in a light fluffy concoction that I will be making again, chilling, and serving as a mousse / pudding substitute! 4. The spinach really does disappear (unless you try licking the beaters).

All in all this recipe didnt take any more effort than a traditional homemade cake or other from scratch baked good. The instructions are fabulous and the finished product is ahhhhmazing! Thank you so much!!!

We are sampling/playing with Paleo recipes right now so our taste buds arent Paleo-ified. That being said, my kids are the same ages as yours and both gave thumbs up to these. That is fantastic! I’ll be making them again for sure and have shared with friends. (I used a 9″ round silicone pan and 8 silicone cupcake liners.)

OK so mine didn’t quite turn out as nicely at your picture!! They were very eggy and fluffy so we call them, chocolate soufflé bars. The kids love them though, and I love that they get some spinach in there too!!

I really am glad I found your blog and I can’t wait to make these! Unfortunately, we are in the middle of our third out-of-state move in 2 years so I will have to wait until we get moved and unpacked before I can do this. (Two more weeks)! Something tells me I will REALLY need a brownie then! :)

I am wondering about plantains and SIBO. I have recently been reading about fermentation potentials, and sweet plantains and bananas are both considered high in fermentation potential. I have been nervous to try plantains since SIBO (though I love them). Do you find that are ok eating the foods you make with plantain, or are they just for your family to eat?

As long as I don’t eat too much, I seem okay with plantain, although treats like this are more for my family than me. I mostly use green plantain but I seem okay with it ripe too..

Thanks you!! These look awesome. Will be trying them soon — I’m lucky wse have a store close by where I can get plantains. My son starts kindergarten next week and his school is NUT-FREE, so i have to ditch most of my beloved treat recipes as i’ve relied heavily on almond flour. :(

This recipe looks great! Do you think any other starchy veg might work for the brownies? Plantains aren’t handy to come by here.

We made these to kick off our weekend and they turned out GREAT! I’m guessing yes – but do you know if the resistant starch in plantains changes to regular starch at about the same ratio as potato starch? I’m puzzling over the somewhat lower than I’d guessed insulin response to these (T1D, here) – thoughts:?

My daughter and I made these this week. We wanted to test out a paleo dessert that we could include in her school lunches. I am trying to move her from school lunches and the only big deal has been the sweet treats they offer and French Toast Day. These were wonderful. I pulverized the frozen chopped spinach for extra “hideability” and she loved them! They were best right after cooled, but they held up well for the week in the fridge. Thanks!

Thank you so much for your grain free, nut free, and COCONUT! free recipies. My son can’t tolerate grains or coconut and now my too often used almonds are giving him a hard time. I’ve been struggling to find a way to give him some healthy treats/bread type things. Thank you!

These were wonderful, thank you so much! I love your plantain recipes. When I eat a paleo baked good made from almond flour, I get a little heartburn, or even feel sick to my stomach. Your plantain recipes are delicious and don’t cause me any problems.

Hi,I’m just curious about the baking soda. I was under the impression that baking soda was a no-go because it contains corn starch. Is there a paleo alternative or is it such a small amount that its ok? I don’t have any food allergies, just trying to eat healthy.

I’m a Newby at anything healthy. That being said, “What is, Paleo, FODMAP, SIBO, and AIP? These Spinach Brownies sound delicious and healthy and I know my husband would love it if I tried cooking or baking ANYTHING healthy. (For both our sakes) We are empty nesters with grown children and three Grandgirlies under 5yrs. In our 50s we should be thinking about the 2nd half of our years on this planet…hahaha

You’ll find answers to your questions in the “start here” under Eating and Living Paleo menus above as well as in the Gut Health sub menu and Paleo Modifications sub menu.

Do you know of a substitute for the molasses? I’d love to make these for work on Monday, but don’t think I’ll find any molasses before then….

Quick question (hopefully not already answered above, I scrolled and didn’t see it!): I have a 9 oz package of frozen spinach and it’s rather hard to measure it while frozen. Did people use the entire package? 1/2? I appreciate your help!

True. You could slightly defrost, just enough to measure. I don’t think that a little more or a little less spinach will great affect the overall taste. — Tamar, Sarah’s assistant

I researched this and found that 1.25 cups (the amount listed in the recipe) is equal to 10 ounces, so I believe your package is very close to the correct amount. It’s hard to say since it’s frozen. But I believe you should be able to use the whole package (9 ounces of spinach) and that the overall taste will not be affected greatly. — Tamar, Sarah’s assistant

These were AWESOME!! I’ve just recently embraced the paleo lifestyle, so I’ve gone without sweet treats until I found your blog and facebook page! I am allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, so it is always frustrating trying to find gluten free or paleo recipes sans nut meals, flours or milks. I think I may also have a sensitivity to coconut flour, so these made with plantains are simply amazing! Seriously, it is almost a kindness you are doing for not only the paleo community but for those with serious allergies. They were also uber delicious. All three of my children loved them and husband loved them as well. Thank you!!!!

I’ve read this string and did a search on your site and cannot find an answer to my question: I followed your video exactly on peeling & slicing the green plantains into semi-circles for freezing. When I pull them out of the freezer to use for baking your muffins, do I let them defrost before putting them into the food processor to puree or can I puree them frozen? I also have a Vitamix — could I puree them from frozen in the Vitamix? Your thoughts would be most appreciated! Sincerely, Diana Yoon

Thanks for the video! I just started using plantains more, but didn’t have any idea that they weren’t really supposed to be eaten yellow. I need to check out your pancake recipe and finding more uses for them. This brownie recipe sounds awesome! I need to get some more cocoa powder and try it out!

You could top them with your favorite Paleo caramel sauce or frosting, use carob instead of cocoa (carob has a different flavor, but is sweeter), or use a sweeter chocolate (you may have to make your own if you want to keep it Paleo). – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Thanks Christina. a frosting sounds like the right idea. On another note, can you recommend a way to reduce the egg content. I wouldn’t say that I’m full-blown allergic to eggs, but they definitely are an irritant and while I can eat things made with a few eggs I noticed this morning that the brownies have enough egg to be a bit of a problem.

and my slightly modified version (had three egg whites on hand, so i used those with 3 more eggs, I also used butter and slightly less than called for) came out to 18g carbs (14g net), 5g protein, 23g fat, 9g sugar, 274 calories per brownie (12 servings)

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