Zucchini Brownies

Once upon a time during my freshman year in college, I read a book called Skinny Bitch. It changed my life. There was a chapter entitled: “Sugar is the devil.” So for a grand total of probably three days, I avoided sugar

…like the devil.

No dessert.

The most minimal added sugar possible (no processed cereals. No syrup. No honey. No…I don’t know. Chocolate milk?)

The effects:

– I ate salty foods instead.

(We’re talking the orange-goo-tortilla-soup from the servery, which I would nver do normally.)

– I was grumpy.

– On day four, I fell off the wagon hard. The devil manifested itself in the form of cinnamon rolls.

– So I ate them and decided I didn’t want to give up sugar ever again.

However, on occasion I do like to pretend I practice moderation and/or healthy eating habits.

Unlike some other cupcakes, these brownies use no butter OR sugar.

Oil and honey aren’t exactly health foods, but swapping out their conventional counterparts of butter and refined sugar yields certain benefits:

– monounsaturated fatty acids (a healthy dietary fat) and antioxidants instead of saturated fat: this means you can LOWER your cholesterol levels, reduce your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease!

–  antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins instead of empty calories: though honey is higher in calories than refined sugar (64 cal/ tablespoon vs. 46 cal/tablespoon), it is sweeter, so you should theoretically need to use less of the good stuff.

Again, NOT health foods, but small changes over a long amount of time = better health.

These brownies are crumbly. They’re no better-than-crack brownies, but warm out of the oven, the chocolate chips give a melt-y richness to an otherwise  austere brownie. Overall, they had an interesting texture and an okay, not stunning flavor.

My search for health(ier) recipes continues. These are next on my list…

Notes

This recipe called for 30-40 minutes of baking time, but in my oven, an 8×8″ pan of brownies only needed 22 minutes. SO CHECK YOURS EARLY!

I accidentally forgot the chocolate chips until the batter was already spread out in the pan, so the top was riddled with more lumps of chocolate than it should have. As you can see from the pictures, the zucchini doesn’t exactly disappear when it bakes–pale green ribbons weave through every craggy surface. If you don’t like that look, grate the zucchini on the smallest grating size possible (I grated mine on the size that has holes the size of my pinky nail.)

I compared the nutritional profile of these brownies to my go-to brownie recipe to see how they measure up and found…not a huge difference. See for yourself:

(Nutrition facts calculated for a serving size of 1/16)

Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies, adapted by Smitten Kitchen

208 calories, 13.5 g fat (5.8 g saturated), 1.8 g fiber,  16.4 g sugar, 4 g protein

A Dash of Sass’s Zucchini Brownies 

218 calories, 11.4 g fat (2.4 saturated), 3.1 g fiber, 14.9 g sugar, 3.7 g protein

Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Makes 1 8″x8″ pan. Taken from A Dash of Sass

2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1  cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Chips)

Directions:

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper leaving 1 inch of the paper hanging over the edge to create handles. Grease parchment paper. Set aside.
– Grate zucchini. Press with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Fluff with a fork, set aside.
– In a large bowl, beat together oil, eggs, agave or honey and vanilla. Add zucchini.
– In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
– Add dry mixture to the wet/zucchini mixture. Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips.
– Pour batter into prepared pan.
– Bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.  Remove from pan using parchment paper handles.  Serve chilled for a fudgy brownie or warmed for a gooey, cakey brownie.

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