I’ve been reading a lot about healthy, cheaper and environmentally friendly eating. If you want to focus exclusively on any one of these items, to take it to an extreme, you really have to forgo the others. However, I have been trying to find a reasonable balance between all three that I can live with for me and my family.
Because of the baby I have cut out all dairy & soy proteins. For health and environmental reasons we’re trying to cut high fructose corn syrup out of our diet. For health reasons I’m trying to cut down on random preservatives and refined/white flour, sugar & rice. All of this suggests more home cooking and less packaged foods – which is also good for the environment, because factories that process all that food use a lot of energy and water and result in a lot of waste.
Here’s my dilemma. I LOVE box-mix brownies. I’m KNOWN for my brownies, which until now, have all been based on box mixes. I put out the word on Facebook that I needed a good recipe and my friends pointed me to Smitten Kitchen. If you love to cook or if you love to read about food, her blog is addictive. Her brownie recipe is also good, and it has beautiful pictures to go with it, as do all her recipes.
I decided to go healthier and dairy free and a larger batch. I’m not sure she’ll be able to recognize her base recipe, but I want to acknowledge it. I took my brownies to a party and got multiple requests for the recipe, so I knew I had a hit. Moist, chewy, delicious!
I changed butter to Crisco for the dairy issue. I suspect that a butter substitute would work as well. I cut down the amount of sugar, added bananas, substituted whole wheat flour for 2/3 of the four and added chocolate chips. These brownies rock!
- 1 cup crisco butter flavored shortening
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 2/3 cup cocoa
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 banana
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup white flour
- 1 cup chocolate chips (Bakers, Ghiradelli & Guittard semi-sweet chips are dairy free as of this writing – always check the labels though!)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F
- Grease 9×13 baking pan
- Start to melt Crisco in heavy duty sauce pan, at least 2.5 quarts, carefully.
- Add sugar, cocoa, and salt.
- Stir until "butter" is melted and mixture is smooth and fairly hot – not boiling!
- Take the bananas in your hands and mush them up with the skin still on.
- Peel and dump mushed bananas into the pan
- Mix thoroughly
- Let it cool down a little - It’s pretty grainy, but it will get smooth once the eggs and flour are added.
- Stir in the vanilla then the eggs, stirring each one until blended.
- When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer.
- Add the chocolate chips
- Spread evenly in the greased pan.
- Bake about 30-35 minutes, until the batter is set.
- Let it cool!
- Mushing bananas in their skins is easier and faster than mashing them with a fork and it works really well for overripe bananas too.
- If you do the toothpick test and it comes out dry, the brownies are probably over baked. Instead giggle the pan and if the batter moves, bake for another 5 minutes.
- Do I have to tell you to let it cool? It’s best to cool on the counter until room temperature, and then some people find them easier to cut if you put in the fridge or freezer.
- When you put hot items in the fridge or freezer your appliances have to work harder (using more electricity) than if you let nature cool the food to room temperature first. Of course, in this case I needed them immediately for a party, so I stuck them in the freezer to get them cool enough to cut quickly. Bad EcoMommy!
Happy Eating and Happy Greening!