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


  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:



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!

I don’t know what part of Europe you are in, but I am sure that if you go to a place where you can find immigrants from Africa and Latin America, you will find plantains in stores that cater to them.

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)

I had a quick question. I made these and they tasted “off”. I am going back and looking at the recipe close and even checking the links. I noticed that the palm oil link, links to a coconut oil.Which palm oil does she suggest? I was using the spectrum brand. Also, I was wondering if it is cocoa you are supposed to add or Cacao Powder like the link suggests? Maybe they are the same? Thanks!

I was wondering if you think beet greens would work in this recipe instead of the spinach? I am trying to increase my daughter’s calcium intake and beet greens have a lot more than spinach so I’m always trying to get them in somehow! Thanks!

Mine also came out eggy and fluffy. It also didn’t seem very chocolatey. I would next try increasing the chocolate to 10-12oz. I did a mix of avocado oil and ghee, maybe I can play around with the unsaturated to saturated fat to get a denser, more fudgy brownie. I ended up adding melted chocolate on top to increase the sweetness and chocolate factor. Husband ate them up, and seemed pretty pleased with the extra veggie boost.

Okay. I am “going with” swiss chard. My garden is so abundant with chard (& so is the freezer). Fingers crossed.

I just made these for the first time, but they tasted “burnt”, any idea what causes that taste? (Besides the obvious) I only cooked them 35 minutes and they seemed done. I used a vitamix in place of food processor. Thank you!

I love your recipes, especially those that use plantain!
Fun and useful trivia: many Central Americans eat plantains daily. They are usually fried in diagonal slices, but I have had success baking them like oven fries. Yum. The traditional use is to use them to scoop up not-very-paleo refried red beans. More yum.
While living in Central America, I learned to peel green plantains by cutting off the ends and making a couple one to two millimeter slits down the length of the plantain. Then get your thumbs under the peel and work off the peel with mostly horizontal movements.

Amazing! Mine look just like yours! But I also found them not quite sweet enough… I’m thinking that the next time I make them, I’ll try adding xylitol or coconut sugar.

These were very bland. I could barely eat them. Luckily my son likes really plain food and at least they have spinach in them but I don’t think I will be making them again.

Wow the texture of these brownies is amazing! Just like normal flour! I did a few changes, I didn’t have any molasses so used a tbsp of erythritol (I can tolerate it). I also used 1 more tbsp of erythritol instead of honey because I can’t tolerate honey. I used 90% dark chocolate so they turned out not very sweet. Not a problem though, because with some coconut cream or ice cream (and served warm) these babies are the business!

I’m from Germany. Unfortunately, I don’t know where to buy palm shortening. Can I use palm oil or coconut oil instead?


Amazing! I keep these individually wrapped in the freezer and that helps when craving a treat. Last time I made them, I used about a cup of fresh mint that had accidentally frozen in my produce drawer. The cool mint was a fantastic leafy green touch.

Just curious why the molasses? I have it, but I’ve never seen it in a brownie before. Has anyone tried substituting cocoa, coconut oil, and sweetener for the chocolate bar? That would seem more paleo adaptable, cheaper, and plain easier to find than those listed above. I think I’ll look for conversions and try it!

Many things are subistutes. I usemiracle whip instead of eggs if I’m out if eggs. Makes great pancakes. 1 tablespoon miracle whip for 1 egg.

i love your recipes but my daughter and I have found out we are allergic to eggs. I haven’t had much luck with replacements. Have anyone had success substituting the eggs in this recipe?

Can I use moe coconut oil instead of palmoil, I really don’t like the flavor and don’t want to risk loosing the recipe

Made these tonight with a few alterations…used unsweetened baking bar (4 oz) and then added a combination of xylitol and stevia drops completely removing the honey and molasses. They were still cake like for me. Next time I might try and leave out 2 of the eggs and see if they are more fudgey….any thoughts? They are super delicious! Thank you!

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