Brainy Brownies

What? Brownies? I know you thought this site was about children’s behavior. Well, kids need lots of vitamins and minerals to help their brains learn – and the brain gets really involved in learning new behaviors. So that brain needs good fuel.

My son likes white foods. He’s one of those. Been that way he was a very little guy. At ten, there’s more color on his plate but his palate lacks the variety I think his growing body needs. And sure, if it’s sweet, he’ll eat most any color.

I have tried different ways to disguise vegetables, sometimes smothering them in peanut butter, cheese, or ranch dressing, but Zed can always find them underneath and make a neat, untouched pile. That has changed since I introduced Brainy Brownies into the mix. Spinach isn’t white or sweet, but who would know in this brainy recipe introduced by the Sneaky Chef.

Missy Chase Lapine is the Sneaky Chef. She has a book called, “The Sneaky Chef: Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals.” Here is my favorite recipe and it works. When I put one of these brownies in my son’s school lunch, he thinks he’s getting a dessert. I know he’s getting his vegetables.

When you try this recipe, I’d love to hear about your child’s reaction.

Brainy Brownies

* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

* 2 large eggs

* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1/4 cup flour, plus

* 2 tablespoons flour (or a blend of equal parts whole wheat, wheat germ, and white flour)

* 1/4 cup rolled oat, ground in a food processor

* 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* butter or nonstick cooking spray

Optional extra boost

* 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Purple Puree (use 1/2 cup)

* 3 cups raw baby spinach leaves (1 cup frozen chopped spinach, or frozen chopped collard greens)

* 1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen, no syrup or sugar added)

* 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

* 1/2 tablespoon water


Prep Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 1/4 hr

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter or spray only the bottom, not the sides, of a 13-by- 9-inch or 9-inch square baking pan.

3. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water (or in a microwave, checking every 15 seconds). Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool a bit. Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, and Purple Puree. Combine this purple egg mixture with the cooled chocolate mixture.

4. In a mixing bowl, stir together Flour Blend, cocoa powder, oats, and salt. Add this to the chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly. Mix in the chopped walnuts, if using, then pour the entire mixture into the baking pan.

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting the brownies and use a plastic or butter knife. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

6. Keeps for a week in the refrigerator, covered tightly.

7. Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe: Purple Puree.

8. If using raw spinach, thoroughly wash it, even if the package says “prewashed.” Bring spinach or collards and water to boil in a medium pot. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. If using frozen blueberries, quickly rinse them under cold water to thaw a little, and then drain.

9. Fill the bowl of your food processor with the blueberries and cooked spinach, (or collards) along with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water, and puree on high until as smooth as possible. Stop occasionally to push top contents to bottom. If necessary, use a second tablespoon of water to make a fairly smooth puree.

10. This amount of spinach and blueberries makes only about 1 cup of puree. Double the recipe if you want to store another cup of the puree. It will store in the refrigerator up to 2 days, or you can freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

Read more:


4 Responses to “Brainy Brownies”

    • In this case, full disclosure isn’t absolutely necessary, is it? 🙂

  1. Heather B

    Hmmm I might try this, it’s been so hot down my way that my garden spinach is looking tough and some of the lettuce is tough, so cooking it is advisable. I wonder, could I use the spinach and applesauce rather than blueberries? My kids all eat veggies so that’s not a concern, but I’m all for adding fiber and cutting fat and sugar if it still tastes great. I always wonder if the spinach will still have any nutritional value after all the cooking-I guess yes or it wouldn’t be in the recipe book. ..

  2. Annie

    A little bit about spinach that you may already know: To improve iron absorption, spinach should be eaten with vitamin C-rich foods such as orange juice, tomatoes, or citrus fruit. The blueberries seem to be a good match nutritionally in this bar for that. Or drinking a glass of orange juice when eating one.

    Also, I did a little more research. Spinach is a vegetable full of nutritious value, even when cooked. Boiling is the worst method because anti-oxidants are lost in the water. Baking and griddling increased certain types of antioxidants while losing or maintaining others. (Not sure I’ve ever “griddled” spinach.)

    Thanks for the prompt to look further!


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