High Nutrition/Low Bullshit: Coconut Cocoa Nib Brownies

Crashes are part of cyclocross racing. Something slips, you misjudge, or are surprised, you fall and swear and get up and get going again.

But this time you got up and discovered your front wheel wouldn’t move because you bent your (steel) fork. You realized you couldn’t grab your bike with your right hand, or lift anything with your right arm. So you slogged back to the officials and the medic – who told you to get someone to drive you to the hospital, now.

Diagnosis from the ER: dislocated shoulder. You grudgingly accept that you’re off the bike – and in a sling – for six weeks.

You adjust to asking for help, perfect the awkward dance of putting on a coat with one arm. You walk to work, where dictation software helps compensate for your lack of typing. Your guy does most of the housework. You’re a bit sad, as you miss your bike, exercise, easily tying shoes. You tell yourself it’s a short sentence : six weeks of restriction.

But — but — the cooking.

You miss the process, the tinkering. This isn’t about insufficient food on the table or in your belly, it’s the suspension of a beloved routine.

One evening your guy heads out on errands and you are the sneaky six-year-old in the kitchen, making a mess while the adult is out of the house. Right hand in the prescribed sling, you awkwardly measure flour, kasha with your left hand. Dump the kasha into your coffee grinder – voila, buckwheat flour. You flip squares of baking chocolate out of their wrappers, fumble-chop them with your non-dominant hand. Crack eggs sloppily, attempt to whisk them after removing shell fragments from the bowl. Add a handful of coconut, a handful of cocoa nibs. One last clumsy fold of the batter, an unskilled flop into the pan, and into the oven they go.

Like any kindergartener, you are proud of your accomplishment. Your guy comes home, and you triumphantly announce look at what I made! 

A half-hour later, you’re nibbling on a brownie that’s delicious and dense, with the crunch of cocoa nibs and a hint of molasses and coconut. This helps take the edge off the fact that it will be another month before you can cook with your right hand. Two weeks down, four to go…

Coconut Cocoa Nib Brownies


  • 3 oz semi-sweet baker’s chocolate
  • 8 T grapeseed (or other neutral) oil
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c ground kasha (buckwheat flour)
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c shredded coconut
  • 1/2 c cocoa nibs
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • sea salt


Grease an 8×8 baking pan; set the oven at 350F.

Chop, dice, shave, mince, or otherwise break up the chocolate – combine with oil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until combined. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and molasses. Add chocolate-oil mixture, stir until uniform. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

Add flours and salt to bowl, stirring briefly. Fold in cocoa nibs and coconut.

Bake 20-25 minutes until they pass the toothpick test; let brownies cool before cutting. Slice, eat/share/freeze.

Somewhere, there are culinary sprites who flit around kitchens and joyously compose dishes dusted with sea salt and topped with shaved fennel. Meanwhile, in actual kitchens, there are humans who make good food while being fully occupied with the business of being normal people. Welcome to High Nutrition, Low Bullshit – where we still make locally-sourced pesto, tasty kale dishes, and damn fine vegan pies – but minus the illusions and glamour.

Image: mikefats

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