Spinach “Sore Leg” Brownies

March 14, 2012 in Categories: by

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We call these “Sore Leg Brownies” in my house because I developed them for my oldest daughter when she has having growing pains.  She’s not a good eater (update: see this more recent post to read about improvements with her eating) and especially dislikes anything green (okay, that’s an exaggeration, the walls of her bedroom are green and she seems to like those).  Growing pains are typically caused by a magnesium deficiency, which is abundant in green foods, especially dark green leafy vegetables.  Yes, I admit it:  I am not beyond hiding some good green nutrition in my daughter’s treats.  And these brownies are awesome!  Like all paleo brownies that I’ve tried so far, these are more like a thin piece of cake than a brownie.  The spinach, which you can’t taste, actually helps keep them moist and less dense than a lot of paleo brownie recipes I’ve tried.  But, if anyone figures out how to get that crunchy crust and chewy middle without gluten, please let me know!


1.     Preheat oven to 325F.  Line a 9”x13” baking pan with wax paper.
2.    Melt coconut oil and chocolate together over low heat on the stove top or medium power in the microwave.  Add vanilla and honey; stir to incorporate.  Let cool.
3.    Blend spinach and egg together in a blender or food processor, until smooth.  Add flax meal and pulse to incorporate.  Pour out into a big bowl.
4.    Mix cocoa powder, coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
5.    Add melted chocolate mixture to egg mixture slowly and stirring constantly.
6.    Mix in dry ingredients and stir to fully incorporate.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
7.    Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Do you need help finding any ingredients?  Check out  Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker.


My recipes are all grain-free, dairy-free, and legume-free. There are some sugars like maple syrup, honey, and evaporate cane juice/sucanat in my treats, but I have made it clear in many posts that I recommend these only for special occasions.

how disingenuous. i LOVE your site. i’ve just found it today and many of the recipes are original and ingenious. but, this recipe calls for semisweet chocolate. the second ingredient in that, according to the link you have posted, is SUGAR. not maple syrup, not honey, not sucanat. and it’s not paleo. it would be far better to have a recipe for semisweet chocolate that IS made with one of the other sugars, or to reformulate the recipe using cocoa powder, fat, and a sugar alternative in place of the semisweet chocolate.

I find it strange that “paleo-ish” would assume that all chocolate chips are made with refined sugar. Have they never set foot in a Whole Foods or searched for food online? And, Sara clearly states sweet treats like this brownie recipe, even if made with honey or evaporated cane juice, are for special occasions not daily consumption.

Brands of naturally sweetened chocolate chips that are also Soy-free and Dairy-free (a few even have sugar as the second ingredient)—-


You can make your own chocolate chips with honey or maple syrup:

Cook’s Illustrated did a piece on making chewy brownies. They discovered that the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat is key–you need about a 1:3 ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. Too much saturated fat is apparently the reason why so many homemade brownies, not just paleo ones, turn out too soft. I’ve tried their recipe (before I went paleo) and it worked really well! Brownies with some kind of nut oil instead of part of the saturated fat might be something to experiment with. Email me if you want a copy of the article or their recipe.

I made these for my daughter and she loved them. I found it came out really dense, but then I realized my husband had picked up blanched almond meal, not flour. After it chilled in the fridge, it was amazing. I’ve made another batch tonight to make as cupcakes. I added 1/4 cup arrowroot flour and 1/2 cup blueberries. I can’t wait to see how they turn out. Thank you so much for leading the way in paleo baking! I can finally get my kids to eat healthy snacks! Now, if I could just get them to eat their dinner…

These turned out amazing! They’re crunchy on the top, and soft and spongy on the bottom! I baked them for 35 minutes in a muffin pan. That whole batch yielded 21 brownie/cupcake/muffins. I guess they’re brownie muffins for now. Anyway, amazing results. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Love your idea! The spinach in my brownies made them stringy and fibrous. What did I do wrong? Should I have processed the spinach while still frozen?

I have seen people now use grass-fed gelatin to keep gluten-free treats moist. Gelatin can also be used as an egg substitute. I haven’t tried it yet, but have been wanting to.

Also, I believe flax is heat sensitive and should not be heated, or else it loses its Omega-3 nutritive properties. I stopped putting flax seed meal into heated items.

My 6-year-old was just complaining of a “sore leg” tonight. Like your daughter, mine isn’t a big fan of dark green veggies either, but this would most definitely work! I do have one question. My youngest daughter is allergic to sesame and her allergist told us we need to avoid flax and poppy seeds as well because they are in the same family as sesame seeds. My husband strangely enough reacts to flax so maybe she got the allergy from him? 🙂 Anyway, that’s not the question. (Sorry!) My question is: Is there a substitute for flax that you know of? I don’t know much about it because we have to avoid it.

Whether you do or do not, thank you for posting this recipe…it’s inspiring me to sneak those leafy greens into more of her food so she will start to feel better. I love how I’m learning things on blog posts like yours!

What flour would you recommend to substitute for the almond flour ? I am sensitive to almonds and don’t want to use more coconut flour because I just don’t like the taste of coconut very well. With so many paleo recipes calling for either coconut or almond flour I pass up trying many things that I’d like to make if only they had flours I’d use.

Most nut flours can replace almond flour. In fact, just processing some of your favorite nuts or seeds in a food processor will work for most paleo baking. I like ground pumpkin seeds, but you could use sunflower seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, or a mix of your favorites.

my cousin usually chucks in a mashed banana to help replace the lost gluten… this might help with the gooier middle? I haven’t made these yet but they are on my list to do!

To make them fudgy instead of cakey reduce eggs from 5 down to 2 eggs and then add 1/4c water. Reducing eggs in any brownie recipe that is too cakey will make them fudgy. I would normally replace each egg with 3/4 T flax/chia seed meal and 1.5 T water. But since this recipe already has lots of flax meal no more is needed. Flax and chia seed meal both act as binders similar to eggs in baked goods.

Oh thank you thank you, I have been searching for a recipe like this for ever!!!
A friend of mine use to add beets to chocolate cake but this spinach in the brownie is boss!!! Another other similar recipes?

This was fantastic! I used 85% Dark Chocolate and increased the honey to 1/2 cup to avoid having to use semi-sweet chocolate.

How brilliant to hide the spinach! Having read your site somewhat, my kids seem not unlike your daughter. Two of them have had leg pain, which testing revealed to be low iron. It took a while on iron supplements to eradicate the pain.

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