Kale in a Brownie?!
I stumbled upon this interesting recipe about 6 months ago. A friend of mine had suggested I read a book called ‘Never Be Sick Again’ by Raymond Francis. I got the book from my local library, and found it had many good points. I looked around online for his suggestions on food, and that is how I found this recipe. I thought the recipe was intriguing for sure, but I definitely had my reservations about trying it. Kale, chia, and nuts in the same dish was something I had not tried or ever thought of combining. About a month ago we were going camping, and I thought this would be a great time to try this brownie recipe since I had also just gotten some fresh kale (see my CSA blog here). We were pretty happy with the result, it was surprisingly hearty and filling, and was good and easy to have it for breakfast and a snack.
I decided to make it again this past weekend, and it turned out very nice. I do have some issues with the carob powder, and possibly with using chocolate, but this is an easy recipe that can be modified, so I am looking forward to experimenting with it.
Now before the recipe a few notes on some of the key ingredients, namely carob and cacao powder, and chia seeds. If you want you can skip to the recipe by clicking right here.
Let’s start with cacao. We all know chocolate… and have learned to crave it at a very young age. It is enticing and it is one of the foods I struggle the most staying away from. Its many health benefits are constantly touted in the media (here btw is a very interesting article describing possibly some of the unhealthy relationships between nutritional research and the chocolate industry). But it comes at a price. Even setting aside the fact that to get any product that contains cacao powder without any other super unhealthy ingredients (like lecithins or sugar, and here I mean all types of sweeteners apart from honey, etc.) is near to impossible unless you make it at home on your own. Other than the well known fact that cacao is a stimulant, i.e. contains caffeine (when I think of this numerous memories of hyperactive kids having just eaten some chocolate come to my mind, along with the thought why are they encouraged to eat so much chocolate, but that is another story), it is also high in antinutrients (specifically phytic acid). And anybody struggling with an auto immune disease or inflammation is probably to stay away from it. When I was at my worst with my autoimmune issues just having a bit of chocolate would send me in a haze of a brain fog for an entire day (yet I somehow still had it, even if it was on rare occasions, such is its allure).
Carob powder is something that has recently become popular as cacao powder replacement as it doesn’t contain any of the caffeine. I had seen it in ‘health food’ stores, and tasted it in some baked products a couple of years back, but never understood why people like it, I guess the taste was not for my palate. I purchased it pretty much to try out this recipe. It is a ground pod, and the one I used was roasted (I checked and there are some raw carob powders out there too). I can’t say I was impressed by it. And when making newer versions of this brownie I will not be using it especially since I am about embark on a GAPS diet adventure, where it is forbidden due to its high starch content.
Chia is also something that has gained huge popularity recently. I had it about 5 years ago for the first time, added to some juices and smoothies, and I instantly grew to like it. It allegedly was given to Aztec warriors to support their stamina. It is a mucilaginous food (like okra and flax seeds) and with that come both benefits and issues. That is a broad topic that requires its own discussion, which I will revisit soon.
Now let’s jump to the recipe, as you can see if you are comparing to the original I have already modified the list of ingredients to my own liking.
List of Ingredients
3 cups de-stemmed kale
2 cups almond flour
1 cup pecans
2/3 cup carob powder
1 Tbsp cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut shreds
3 Tbsp honey
1 or a 1/2 vanilla bean pod
2 Tbsp chia seeds
A pinch of salt
I started by preparing the chia into the gel. For this I mixed the 2 Tbsp chia seeds into a half cup of water and stirred. It takes about half an hour for the gel to form, so it’s best to start with it, that way it was ready when I had the rest of the mixture prepared.
Then I measured the 2 cups of almond flour.
Then I measured out 1 cup of pecans, and processed them in a food processor until I had gotten pecan flour.
Afterwards I measured out the pinch of salt, the coconut shreds, carob powder, and the cacao powder ( I actually didn’t have enough carob powder, so I substituted with extra cacao powder. It’s pretty hard to distinguish the two in the photos, even I am not sure which one is which!). I combined them in a bowl with the almond flour and the pinch of salt.
Afterwards I prepared the kale. Three cups of lightly packed de-stemmed kale is not much, and I needed about 4 leaves of kale.
I got the vanilla out of the vanilla pod, though I have to say I didn’t really feel it in the brownie. It would probably have been better to use a food processor to get an even consistency of the vanilla flavor, but I didn’t want to process the chia seeds.
After adding the vanilla, I added the chia gel, and the honey. I mixed everything with my hands as if making a dough. Then I placed the dough in a container, and put it in the fridge for about 30 mins, but the longer it stays the better consistency it gets, and the tastier it is, in my opinion.
And here is the finished product ready to enjoy (with a cup of tea for me please).