I’m sure I’ve said this before, but my kids love dessert. They will eat pretty much anything I put in front of them if it means dessert is coming! Baby spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes – they gladly polish it off to get the sweet treat that awaits. I should mention that I’ve learned that while he typically does eat his vegetables, I have to keep an eye on my sneaky 2 year old. Recently, after chewing on a carrot for about 7 minutes, he definitely snuck off to the bathroom to spit it out into the toilet, then came back in seconds later cheering, “I get dessert!” Yes, he’s smart enough to dispose of the carrot without swallowing, but not quite smart enough to double-check to make sure all the orange pieces were flushed down the toilet…
So back to these brownie bars – I guess you could say they do double-duty. They are practically dessert and vegetable in one since I add 2 heaping cups of zucchini. Zucchini is rich in Folate, Vitamin A, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Potassium, Phosphorus – just to name a few – so that’s lots of added food value! It’s important to mention too that zucchini is one vegetable that doesn’t lose any of its nutritional content when it is steamed (which is essentially what happens when it is baked into brownies or muffins). There is lots of the nutrition is in the skin too, so be sure to shred the whole zucchini.
That’s why I call these (almost) healthy… lots of zucchini, but I don’t cut out the sugar. I mean, they are brownies after all! 🙂
Oh, and one more thing, just like with applesauce and bananas, adding zucchini to your baked goods doesn’t alter the flavor too much, but provides a good amount of moisture. That’s just what this vegan recipe needs (since there is no milk, eggs, or butter).
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil (coconut or canola would also work)
- 2 cups flour
- 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x11 baking dish and set it aside. Shred two large zucchinis. I use the smaller sized side of the box shredder to get more finely shredded zucchini. Scoop all the zucchini into a mesh strainer or sieve and place over a bowl. Let it side for about 15 minutes - pressing lightly with a spatula to release some of the extra moisture.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the sugar and the sunflower oil. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Add about a cup of dry ingredients at a time to the sugar-oil mixture. When it is mostly combined, add the shredded zucchini and vanilla. Then add the chocolate chips, stirring until they are mixed throughout the batter.
- Carefully spread the batter into your greased pan. Depending on how much you drained your zucchini, your batter might almost pour out, or it might be a little crumbly. Don't worry, the finished product might be slightly different in texture, but I am sure they will still be delicious!
- Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the texture brownie you prefer. I like these to be a little more cake-like and cooked them for 22 minutes and they were perfect. If you would like your brownie bars to be more fudge-y, you can double the amount of chocolate chips.
- Let the brownie bars cool before cutting into squares. Sometimes I frost these and sometimes I don't. It's totally up to you! My husband liked his topped with vanilla ice cream and strawberries.
I prefer mine warm, straight out of the pan 😉