Did you eat your vegetables as a child? Chances are you wouldn’t know if you had because mothers are clever (read: conniving). Unbeknown to our innocent, trustworthy eyes, they chopped carrot into our Bolognese, grated zucchini into our beef burger patties and snuck peas into our favourite sausage rolls.
And lucky they did because now we’re all grown up and somehow love vegetables. In fact, we love them so much we are often hiding them in things ourselves. Whether it’s spinach in smoothies, avocado in mousse or a veggie-packed green juice, we’re always looking for ways to increase our uptake.
We’ve sourced the nutrition expertise of some of our favourite food bloggers to help us do just this. Below, seven famous foodies turn the ‘naughty’ into nice by sharing their favourite delicious desserts with hidden vegetables.
1. Lee Holmes’ Cauliflower and Raspberry Cheesecake
“My favourite veggie-packed dessert is my Cauliflower and Raspberry Cheesecake recipe from Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian. This unusual combination will surprise you with its silky, sweet enchantment. Creamy cauli and bright pink raspberries are a pleasant pair-up; a perfect use of plant-based produce in delicious dessert form.”
– Lee Holmes, Supercharged Food
For the base
120 g (3/4 cup) raw, unsalted cashews
65 g (1 cup) additive-free shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
60 ml (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon melted coconut butter
For the filling
310 g (2 cups) raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 cup coconut butter
300 g (2 cups) cooked cauliflower (about 1 small)
125 g (1 cup) frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup, or
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
80 ml (1/3 cup) additive-free coconut milk
60 g (1/2 cup) fresh raspberries
- Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with filtered water and soak for 2 hours. Drain.
- To make the base, place the cashews and shredded coconut in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Turn out onto a clean work surface and roll out into a dough. Press the dough evenly into a 16 cm (61/4 inch) cake tin and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- To make the filling, combine all the ingredients except the fresh berries in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Remove the base from the freezer and pour in the filling, using a spatula to smooth it over. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes, or the fridge for 1 hour, until set.
- Top with fresh berries and serve.
Tip: This will keep for up to one week in the fridge, and two weeks in the freezer.
2. Martian Angell’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Sweet Potato Frosting
“My favourite veggie-packed dessert would have to be my chocolate cupcakes with sweet potato frosting from The Wholesome Cook book. It’s difficult to stop at one with these and I’m not even a big chocolate fan. I do love a good frosting though and it’s hard to believe this one is made almost entirely out of a vegetable. Trust me, it’s so good you’ll want to make extra. You have been warned.”
– Martyna Angell, The Wholesome Cook
For the cupcakes
1 1⁄4 cups wholemeal plain flour or 2/3 cup coconut flour
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
1⁄2 cup milk of your choice
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1⁄3 cup honey or rice malt syrup
1 zucchini (about 150g), grated, water squeezed out
For the frosting
200g sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons cacao nibs or chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
- Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, cacao, baking powder, salt and vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk together milk, oil, honey or syrup, zucchini and eggs. Pour this mixture into the flour and, using a wooden spoon, mix well to combine.
- Divide mixture between paper cases. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until tops are risen and a skewer inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, place sweet potato in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until sweet potato is soft.
- Drain well and blend until smooth. Add remaining frosting ingredients and mix well.
- Cool the frosting in the freezer for 10 minutes, then in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle over cacao nibs or chocolate chips, if using.
- Eat or store in an airtight container in a cool place or in the fridge for 2–3 days.
Tip: Make extra frosting and keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It makes for a fab spread on toast or an afternoon snack straight out of the jar. Add 2–3 squares of melted dark chocolate for an even more indulgent treat.
3. Taline Gabriel’s Peppermint Chocolate Bars
“Raw peppermint chocolate bars with sneaky spinach from my app, Hippie Lane are hard to go past! No taste of spinach, just a lush, green, minty middle sandwiched between delish chocolate layers. I love anything mint chocolate – it’s the perfect combo! Refreshing and satisfying, and with the addition of spinach, it’s the perfect excuse to indulge.”
– Taline Gabriel, Hippie Lane
For the chocolate
1 cup (240ml) coconut oil
3/4 cup (83g) cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla powder
¼ cup (60ml) rice malt syrup
For the filling
1 cup cashews (soaked overnight)
¼ cup (20g) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (120ml) coconut milk
1/4 cup (60ml) coconut oil
1 cup (30g) baby spinach leaves
Handful of mint leaves
A drop or two of peppermint essence (optional)
- Whisk chocolate ingredients together in a bowl.
- Spread a thin-medium layer at the base of your chocolate moulds (I used a brownie tin lined with baking paper as well as cupcake moulds).
- Refrigerate for 10mins or until firmly set.
- Pulse cashews, coconut, milk & coconut oil in a food processor. Keep processing until mixture is smooth.
- Add mint leaves, spinach & essence and blend until leaves have fully disintegrated.
- Pour the filling over the chocolate. Freeze until firm.
- Pour remaining chocolate over filling and refrigerate overnight.
- Keep chocolate in an airtight container in the fridge.
4. Peta Shulman’s Sugar-Free Black Bean Brownies
“These brownies are moist, rich and delicious. You’d never know these brownies are dairy free, gluten free, sugar free and made from black beans!”
– Peta Shulman, GoodnessMe Box
425g can (1 ¾ cup) black beans, well rinsed and drained
2 large flax eggs (2 heaped tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp water)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
¾ cup cacao powder
1/3 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
12 fresh dates, pitted
1 ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tbsp walnuts, crushed
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
- Lightly grease a muffin pan for 12 standard sized muffins. Ensure that your black beans have been rinsed and drained thoroughly.
- Prepare the flax egg by combining flax and water in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple of times and then let rest for a few minutes.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the food processor except the walnuts and mix for about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. Continue until you have reached a smooth consistency
- If the batter appears too thick, add a tbsp or two of water and pulse again.
- Place the mixture evenly amongst the muffin tin and smooth the tops with a spoon
- Add in the crushed walnuts
- Bake for 20-26 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides
- Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan. They should have a fudgy inside, so don’t be concerned if they are too moist.
Tip: Store away in an airtight container for a few days and enjoy!
5. Jessica Sepel’s High Protein Carrot Cake Snack
“I love my high protein carrot cake snack, it’s a little sweet thanks to the stevia, but the carrot adds another level of texture and flavour. Carrot cake is probably my favourite dessert, so it’s nice to emulate this in a healthy way. It’s not too heavy after dinner, but it knocks the sweet craving without leaving me feeling too over-indulgent!”
– Jessica Sepel, JSHealth
2-3 tbsp almond milk
1 serving vanilla pea protein powder
2 tbsp walnuts
1 tbsp greek yoghurt/tahini (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp stevia/stevia drops
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
- Blend the carrot, stevia, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond milk and walnuts in your food processor or blender (I use a Vitamix).
- Add to a bowl. Mix through 1 serving of the protein powder.
- Top with a dollop of Greek yoghurt/tahini + extra cinnamon if you wish.
Tip: For more delicious recipes from Jess Sepel, click here.
6. The Merrymaker Sisters’ No Sweetener Chocolate Raspberry Brownies
“We are crazy about our No Sweetener Chocolate Raspberry Brownies. Chocolate plus raspberries equals a winning combination, every single time. A delicious party is about to happen in your mouth.” – Emma and Carla Papas, The Merrymaker Sisters
1 cup of cooked puréed pumpkin
1 cup raspberries (thaw if frozen)
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp 100% vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square cake tin with baking paper.
- In a food processor or blender mix all the ingredients except the raspberries.
- The batter will be nice and smooth.
- Stir through the raspberries and pour in to the prepared slice tin.
- Shake the tin to even out the top and place in to the oven for 40 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing and enjoying.
7. Luke Hines’ Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cacoa Coconut Frosting
“I love desserts that utilise vegetables because you get the same great taste with the nutrient density and health benefits of the vegetables. I’ve got some red velvet cupcakes that utilise beetroot in the most divine way! If I am not in the kitchen whipping those up then I am creating my dark and decadent raw chocolate mousse with avocados.”
260g fresh beetroot, peeled and grated
2 free range eggs
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla bean seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon powder
2 teaspoons Nature’s Way super purple carrot, beetroot and berry powder
Pinch of Himalayan salt
150g blanched almond meal
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup (60ml) raw honey, maple syrup or coconut nectar
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a muffin tray with paper liners.
- In a bowl, combine the raw grated beetroot, eggs, vanilla bean, cinnamon, maca, almond meal, raw cacao powder, sweetener, coconut oil and baking powder into a large bowl. Using a spoon or fork, mix really well.
- Spoon into your paper lined cupcake papers or small muffin tins.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through, crunchy on top and moist in the middle.
Tip: Purple carrots are the original carrot. They have a much higher nutrient density than orange carrots. Their high concentration of flavonoids and anthocyanin antioxidants found in Nature’s Way Super Purple Carrot + Beetroot and Berries helps support a healthy heart and immune system plus it contains naturally occurring antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene to support eye health.
For more delicious recipes from Luke Hines, click here.
If you’d like to taste more from these food gurus, they’ll be showcasing their goodies at the clean treats event of the year, GoodnessMe Box Dessert Wholefoods Night Market. Happening July 28, the event name isn’t the only mouthful you’ll be tucking into.