Taking Back Food, One Brownie at a Time

Last week King Arthur Flour deposited a big box of their gluten-free mixes on my doorstep via UPS so that I can review them for you.

I made the brownies this morning, all fancy-pantsed up with the very best peanut-butter frosting ever. They were delicious. They made my Nick make this face:

I’ll  talk more about them and give you the recipe for the frosting in a minute.

But first I want to spend a few minutes talking about why I post recipes here.

It started out as a way to bring people to my blog. There are a lot of other blogs out there that let you link to a recipe. And it worked. People started coming over and reading not just my recipe, but other parts of my blog as well. And I’m a writer. I really like readers. We have a sort of symbiotic relationship, right?

Also, I figured out I’m gluten intolerant just about the same time I started this blog. I get excited about making a recipe gluten-free and having it still taste great. I also don’t mind the boxes of gluten-free goodies I get to review. It’s fun. I like fun.

But, as I’ve learned more and gotten deeper into body acceptance and learning about Health at Every Size, I think my recipes and talking about food serve a different purpose.

Take the brownies I made today, for example. I made no attempt to healthify them. They are brownies, for God’s sake. Between the actual brownie and the frosting, there’s a cup and a third of butter in there. But you know how when you get some low-fat, reduced-carb, healthier version of something like a brownie and you eat it, and then eat more of it, and then more and you still aren’t satisfied? Yeah, that doesn’t happen when you make brownies with real cocoa, lots of butter, whole eggs and top it with creamy peanut butter goodness. A little square and you’re good to go.

Because when you’re body is craving a brownie, it’s really craving sugar and fat and chocolate. And maybe peanut butter.

Replacing the butter with applesauce won’t feed that craving.

I know, I’ve tried. A lot. I was once the queen of replacing high-fat with low-fat. Or best yet, no-fat. I have made brownies without eggs or butter. Really, I have. Applesauce and soy flour. Yum.

So, when I put up a recipe here, I sometimes think to myself: this is me, taking back food. This is me, recovering from the obsessive need to do Susan Powter’s fat formula on every bite that goes into my mouth. This is me, remembering that brownies taste really good.

I think that in order for HAES to take root in the world and really grow–I mean blossom, even amongst the unconverted–it’s important to share our joy of food.

When I share a recipe here, or talk about food, it’s my small rebellion against a society that encourages us to feel good about ourselves if we bake a cake for the people we love, but don’t eat any of it. Think about how many levels of wrong that is. But when you’re caught in the love/hate/food triangle, it seems perfectly sane.

Okay. Back to King Arthur Flour gluten-free brownie mix.

It mixed up smooth and thick with two eggs and a little water. It baked up kind of weird–collapsing in the center of the pan and crawling up the sides.

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but it was bowl-shaped when I took it out of the oven.

My house smelled like one of those really good bakeries that make you weak in the knees when you walk in the door.

The edges had to come off to give me an even surface for frosting. I’m happy to report that they were chocolatey and very chewy. A very nice brownie taste and texture.

I took the brownies out of the pan, because I was afraid that they wouldn’t come out individually with frosting on them. This didn’t work so well. However, the brownies were moist enough that I could just kind of press it back into a round brownie shape.

Brownies aren’t a fancy cake, are they? They’re allowed to be rougher around the edges.

The peanut butter frosting was spectacular. And super easy. Just put 1/3 cup of soft butter, 1/3 cup of smooth peanut butter, and 2 teaspoons of water in a bowl and blend. Then add a cup of powdered sugar and blend until smooth and fluffy. Spread over your cooled brownies.

The verdict on the brownie mix? I will definitely buy and make these again. Gluten-free mixes sometimes scare me. The product they make up might look like a brownie or a cookie or a loaf of bread, but is an impostor. These brownies are the real deal, though. As far as boxed brownies go, they’re really nice. Despite the strange baking habit, they were chewy and rich, just like a brownie should be. The flour mix is rice and tapioca, which means no weird beany aftertaste.

One of the great things about gluten free packaged foods is that they are often full of more whole foods and less chemicals. The ingredients in these brownies include: sugar, tapioca flour, rice flour, cocoa, leavening, vanilla flavor and salt. Which basically means that these don’t taste too far off from what you might make from scratch.

I especially like about all of the King Arthur gluten-free mixes that they are very basic. They’re meant to be played with. This is a simple, plain brownie, ready to be gussied up anyway your heart desires.

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13 Comments

Filed under body, mind, spirit

13 responses to “Taking Back Food, One Brownie at a Time

  1. Sounds tasty! I don’t need to eat GF, thank goodness, but for those who do it sounds like these are a great choice!

    • These are really delicious, even for people who don’t need to eat GF. I wish there was some other way to signify they’re safe for people who can’t eat gluten. GF sounds like they’re missing something. Maybe Gluten Safe would be a better wording?

  2. “I think that in order for HAES to take root in the world and really grow–I mean blossom, even amongst the unconverted–it’s important to share our joy of food.”

    This!

    Sunflower

    • I so agree. I have been fortunate, in a way, to be so poor lately that we’ve had to prepare pretty much all of our food at home. Thank goodness … preparing food for myself every day has been so joyful and empowering. I’ve always been frustrated by my inability to really taste things well. Wine? If it has alcohol in it, I’ll drink it. Olive oil? It all tastes the same to me. I think all my fucked-up-ed-ness about food was always getting in the way. Lately, I notice myself tasting my food, really tasting it, and it’s delicious.

  3. Yael Tiferet

    I have found that Better Batter (http://www.betterbatter.org) works fine as a flour substitute cup for cup, provided you are not allergic to xanthan gum.

    Also, word to the nth power regarding applesauce brownies. 🙂

  4. I love Better Batter, except that it hasn’t worked so hot for me in yeasted breads. I have a feeling they’re recommending too much liquid to be added to the recipes for this climate, and they come out gummy. BB is awesome in cookies and banana bread, though, and you can probably just put it right into any brownie recipe and it will be fine. And their pancake and biscuit mix rules. (Too bad it’s so expensive to ship it.)

    • I have never found a GF homemade or prebaked bread that made me happy. It usually either has that gummy texture, is too dry, or tastes weirdly eggy.

      • Ever try Chebe bread mix? They have a few different kinds; I just ordered an 8-pack of their pizza dough mix, which is about the best one I’ve tried, and super-easy to use (not to mention versatile). No yeast! And no rising! I don’t know how they do it.

      • I haven’t ever tried it, but I’ve heard about it. Let me know how it works? I’ve made pizza dough out of GF Bisquick and it turned out ok. Not spectacular, but OK. I read on the King Arthur Flour website that the key to really good GF pizza crust is to put a lot of oil in the bottom of the pan before you spread the dough. Two Tablespoons worth. I tried this the last time I made pizza and it worked. The dough was amazing. It made all the difference. Some things just aren’t supposed to be low fat!

  5. Alexie

    I’ve always wondered what the hidden consequences of the ‘no fat! no fat!’ mantra have been. We’re supposed to have fat in our diet – if our bodies weren’t able to handle it, we wouldn’t digest it. I read that in the UK, some wealthy children have been diagnosed with rickets. RICKETS. A disease of extreme poverty. It’s possible that a combination of complete sunblock plus stripping fat from their diet – only allowing them skimmed milk etc – has meant their growing bodies have no way to process the Vitamin D they need.

    Keep up with the butter, I say.

    • I agree–keep the butter. Switching from margarine to butter is one dietary change I’ve been able to make my super picky husband make in the last year. He really liked Country Crock LOL. But we only use real butter now and I love it.

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