Healthy Chocolate Brownies: The Relationship Between Yom Kippur, Beets, Bulgur, and Brownies

Looking out upon the streets of Israel, I can now see how very different this culture is from America’s. 

Could Americans really turn off their cable, cell phones, and car engines for a full 25 hours? And eat nothing on top of all that? 

I have severe doubts.

healthy brownies
What do brownies have to do with Yom Kippur? Anything I want.

It’s curious being in a country with traditions that greatly predate even the existence of the United States; it makes one realize just how inexperienced America actually is.

Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement” in the Jewish faith, is the holiest day of the year.

For 25 hours, beginning at sunset the day before and ending at nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur, the devout fast and spend time on intensive prayer.

It’s the day where God supposedly seals peoples’ fates for the coming year, so spending the hours on atonement and repentance is kind of a big deal—especially if you’ve been procrastinating this sort of thing during the other 364 days.

bikes yom kippur
Enjoying the empty Yom Kippur streets in Tel Aviv                                                 Photo Cred: Oliver Weiken/ EPA

At this moment, just after sunset, the streets are crawling with families out enjoying the newfound freedom and safety in the streets (remember, most won't use cars today). If you’ve got wheels, it’s a biking and roller blading bonanza out there. I think that even the cats are wearing tiny rollerblades.

Eilat is a city that is known for its overzealous focus on profit from tourism, so it’s nice to see that not even this gets in the way of tradition and religious ritual. Even for the non-religious it’s a day of rest, if only to respect the wishes of the religious.

eilat israel
Looking out over Eilat, where the absent sound of motors is a wonderful sound 

No, I don’t suppose that America has an occasion that will ever near Yom Kippur in its ability to almost fully shut the large-scale electronics of a whole country down, but what we could near is the general mentality that Israelis hold toward taking days of rest.

I was prepared for Yom Kippur because every Friday evening through Saturday evening (this period is called Shabbat), something similar happens. Nearly everything closes—the huge stores, restaurants, museums…you name it. Produce goes bad, revenue is lost, space is wasted, but those hours are for resting—profit be damned.

This is perhaps the biggest difference between “them” and “us:” Many of “us” American capitalists couldn't be convinced to close down operations for anything.

Let’s think about taking our Sundays back. If you already have the weekends off, ask yourself if you’re really taking some time during those days to think about your life—what you’re thankful for, the relationships you’ve nurtured, what you're doing with your life. You know the drill.

Thanksgiving could be every week! And by that I mean I want to eat Thanksgiving dinner at least once a week, but that’s not the point. Let’s just relax a little, ok?

desert street
Anybody out there?

As you might have guessed, I am not exactly spending Yom Kippur fasting. No, no...quite the opposite.

I am, in fact, taking part in the highly relaxing art of making and eating brownies. Atonement and repentance will have to wait until tomorrow.

But maybe I won't feel so guilty after all...? We all know that the Chowgypsy is incapable of taking a traditional recipe and not trying to make it cheap and/or healthy in some way...

healthy brownie recipe
It certainly doesn't look healthy.

Brace yourselves people, because I've just invented Beet & Bulgur Brownies. I got healthy on some chocolate. Some may say I've gone too far; I say I've created a masterpiece.

I ask you to suspend judgment, because the fact is, I'm on to something. Somehow, beets blend beautifully with dark chocolate. If it weren't for the slightly red tint of these brownies, most people wouldn't be able to guess that beets are in there at all.

And bulgur, my faithful bulgur...always happy to take the backseat to a recipe while nevertheless adding so much: Texturally sound, flavorfully mild, and nutritionally superior—you just keep doin' your thing, honey.

healthy brownies
This looks precarious. Stabilize yourself or you might fall into my mouth.

I could go on about the flavor of these brownies, but the things is, they just taste like yummy chocolate brownies. They're fudgy, super moist, dense, and chocolately, and I could serve them to the most health-food-hating people in the world and they'd be none the wiser.

If they asked about the red color, I'd just say it's food coloring . . . or BLOOD.

Or I'd say, "hm, it must have something to do with the cocoa powder," and then I'd watch as they finish their bite and then tell them the secret ingredients and watch as a rainbow spreads out behind them while they mystically transform into beautiful, healthy, exemplary eaters and human beings.

That's how easy it is, folks. So go ahead, make your day. Make brownies that are very secretly [mostly] healthy.

Fudgy Beet and Bulgur Chocolate Brownies
Notes: I significantly decreased the egg, sugar, and oil that this recipe called for, which is why you see ingredients like yogurt (acting as oil) and fruit puree (substituting 2 egg yolks). You can also sub honey for more sugar, but that would just be silly.

  • 2 oz. baking chocolate (over 80%), chopped finely
  • ½ c cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 cup EVOO, Coconut Oil, or Avocado Oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp fruit puree (like applesauce or peach jam)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon (buy bulk—save plastic & money!)
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips or a chopped bar
  • 1 cup finely grated beetroot
  • 1 cup fine grain bulgur, soaked until tender (or sub cooked quinoa)

  • healthy brownies
    beets and chocolate
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Whisk cocoa, coffee, and boiling water in a bowl. Add baker's chocolate and whisk to melt—things might be a little chunky, and that’s ok. Add butter and oil, then egg and vanilla, then yogurt and fruit puree. Whisk until smooth. Add sugar & honey. Whisk ‘til smooth...again. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon, whisk until just incorporated, then fold in beetroot, bulgur, and chocolate chips.

    Pour into greased baking pan...13x9 should do it (ideally not an oval pan like mine) and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.

    Or, if you're like me, undercook them at about 35 minutes just because you like that kind of thing.
    beet brownie recipe
    you know i can't resist a threesome...of brownies.
    How I love Jewish holidays!

    Click here to sign up for more fudgy, strangely healthy, and fun experiences with the Chowgypsy!  Vaguely adapted from Cooks Illustrated Chewy Brownies


    1. I would love to feature this recipe on Would that be o.k. It's perfect for the holidays!

      1. Wow, of course that would be wonderful. I'm a bit embarrassed to look back on how terrible my photos are for this I'll have to update that soon! Thank you:))

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