Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Brownies

Pumpkins are not just for carving.  Okay, maybe the big ones are.  But those cute little pie pumpkins are so fun to cook with - making soups, stews, ravioli, quick breads, and....brownies!

These chocolate-y wonders are packed with pumpkin goodness (there's more pumpkin in them than any other ingredient), whole grain, egg-free and dairy-free (if you use dairy-free chocolate chips). And they're scrumptious!

Putting pureed pumpkin in the brownies is not about "hiding the veggies."  I don't advocate using vegetable purees in desserts as a way to get kids their 5 servings a day.  But since we all like a treat every once in a while, why not make it a healthier one?  In addition to adding vitamins, the pumpkin adds sweetness and moisture to the mixture, requiring less sugar and virtually no added fat.

To make the puree, halve the pumpkin lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place pumpkin halves cut side down. Roast in a 350º oven until you can easily pierce them with a fork, about 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and puree, thinning with enough water to get an applesauce-like consistency. Feel free to substitute butternut, acorn or other winter squash for the pumpkin.

And don't throw out those seeds! All winter squash seeds make a delicious (and very nutritious) snack. Separate seeds from pulp, toss them in enough olive oil to lightly coat and season to taste with salt. Spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast at 350º until nicely browned, about 7-8 minutes.

Photo by Daniel Stranahan

Pumpkin Brownies

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Few pinches salt
1 cup pureed pumpkin (thinned with water, if necessary, to get an applesauce consistency)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips*

*Go for vegan ones if you want dairy-free brownies. We get ours at Whole Foods. Avoid carob chips for this recipe. They just don't have the same flavor or meltability.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk well. Add pureed pumpkin and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. The mixture will seem dry, but just keep stirring and it will come together as a spoonable (not pourable) batter. Fold in chocolate chips.

Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish, using a spatula to spread it out evenly and into the corners. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Makes 16 brownies

What kids can do (with appropriate tools and adult supervision)
*Scoop seeds and pulp out of raw pumpkin
*Scoop flesh out of pumpkin skins once roasted (and cooled)
*Measure out ingredients (making sure to level dry ingredients)
*Whisk and stir
*Spread batter evenly into pan

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Veggie Chili

Photo by Daniel Stranahan
Nothing says fall like chili – and you’ll be hard pressed to find a chili that says it better than this one. With red kidney and black beans, sweet potatoes, and corn, it’s a protein and vitamin rich one-pot meal. We made this for dinner a few weeks ago, inspired by stories of the chili competition that my son, Jake, had just participated in on his 7th grade class canoe trip. Corn played a prominent role in his team’s submission, which took a very respectable second place. At our Sunday dinner, the chili got rave reviews from all adults and three of the four kids. The one dissenting vote was from my younger son, Aleks. But since no more than a molecule of it passed his lips, I’m not sure that his vote counts. (As a recovering picky eater, he still shies away from “combined foods.”) He did ask to taste the raw green pepper as I was cutting it up and liked it. I’ll call that a victory!

To see the recipe, check out our guest post on Psychobaby's Blog - and be sure to check out the cool, crazy kids'  stuff offered by this Chicago-based store. Enjoy!