Thursday, September 25, 2008

“Deceptively Delicious” Spinach-Carrot Brownies

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A study published in this months American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that higher fiber diets are associated with decreased body fat in children ages 2 to 7 years old. While this doesn’t come as much of a shock (although the fact that sugar consumption is not related is a surprise), it does bring home once again the fact that my 4-year old is eating less and less fiber every day.

Most American adults do not eat enough fiber. Only 40% of adults get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and picky children often get even less. Only 0.7% of boys aged 14 to 18 years consume five servings daily. In addition, the most popular choices (almost 30%) are low-fiber, including iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, french-fried potatoes, bananas and orange juice. Dark green vegetable consumption averages only 0.2 servings daily.

So how can I get my 4-year old to eat them without pressure (see my “broccoli” post)?? Several cookbooks have recently been published that describe interesting ways to “sneak” vegetable purees into everyday foods. The past few months, I have looked at Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious” and Missy Lapine’s “Sneaky Chef” and tried quite a few recipes. I am currently making baby food for my 9-month old daughter so it wasn’t too hard to also put some of the same puree in our regular foods. For anyone not making babyfood, I recommend making some purees and throwing them in the freezer. Just the act of trying these first few recipes has gotten me to think about throwing some pureed vegetables into just about anything I am making. As an aside, I still serve a vegetable next to the meal, but I figure the more the merrier!

Some favorites include:
Cauliflower macaroni and cheese: delicious, but untouched by my 4-year old
Broccoli chicken nuggets: not my personal favorite, but they were eaten by my 4-year old
Zucchini crust pizza: delicious, although very time-consuming
Spinach-carrot brownies (recipe below): terrible the first day with a strong spinach flavor, but wonderful on day 2 after a night in the refrigerator!

Brownies (with Carrot and Spinach)
adapted from “Deceptively Delicious” by Jesssica Seinfeld
  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup carrot puree
  • 1/2 cup spinach puree
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large omega-3 egg
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  1. Peel and chop carrots into chunks and steam until tender. Puree in food processor with enough water to make a smooth paste. Saute spinach in pan with a small amount of water. Puree in food processor to make a smooth paste. Freeze extras.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or over a very low flame (or in the microwave). In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine and vanilla and whisk until smooth and creamy. Whisk in egg.
  3. Add flour, oat bran, baking powder, and salt and stir to mix.
  4. Pour the batter into a 8” x 8” pan sprayed with cooking spray and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan and chill overnight. Makes 12 bars.


  1. Buyken AE, Cheng G, Günther AL, et al. Am Relation of dietary glycemic index, glycemic load, added sugar intake, or fiber intake to the development of body composition between ages 2 and 7 y. J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):755-62.
  2. Larson NI, Neumark-Sztainer D, Hannan PJ, Story M. Trends in adolescent fruit and vegetable consumption, 1999-2004: project EAT. Am J Prev Med. 2007 Feb;32(2):147-50.
  3. Guenther PM, Dodd KW, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. Most Americans eat much less than recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Sep;106(9):1371-9.
  4. Johnston CS, Taylor CA, Hampl JS. More Americans are eating "5 a day" but intakes of dark green and cruciferous vegetables remain low. J Nutr. 2000 Dec;130(12):3063-7.
  5. Kant AK. Consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods by adult Americans: nutritional and health implications. The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Oct;72(4):929-36.

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