Fudgy Zucchini Brownies with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

There is nothing better than a extra fudgy zucchini brownie with whipped chocolate frosting! The added zucchini makes these extra moist, with a healthy twist that stays perfectly hidden from the most particular of kids. Add a light and fluffy whipped chocolate frosting to the top for a little something extra!

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies with Whipped Chocoalte Frosting overhead shot in a blue baking dish

Here I am, luring you to the blog with brownies today, and taking a decidedly different tone in the writing to talk about something a little more serious. No, no, it’s not bad. And you still get brownies! But I’m just opening up. World Mental Health Day was yesterday, and I thought on it a little more, how do I open up and not alienate people who are here solely for the happy and cheery, or here for just the recipe, when I want to also balance being honest and open as well?

So I’m taking a chance, opening up, being honest, in a space that I feel should allow me that freedom, but also shying away from the same thing because we inadvertently want to just see the happy. I know that I have a habit of scrolling right past the sadder things in life, to focus on the “happy and pretty”, but to brush aside the struggles of others or to pretend like these rougher, harder, and darker things don’t exist is equally a disservice to those who need the most help.

And here it is. I suffer from post-partum anxiety and depression. There, I said it. Can we still be friends? 

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies with Whipped Chocoalte Frosting close up of cut brownies in pan

In the last year, with the blog posts of Emmett, with my usual stories of life, I know I have alluded to the fact that the transition to motherhood has been full of ups and downs, full of victories and challenges. If you read his birth story you would have known what we went through to bring him into our lives, and my subsequent birth story and how I struggled with the physical aftermath of delivery, and how it might have weighed on me and been truthfully – traumatic.

But beyond that, and getting back to the day to day shift of my life from being an independent human being, to being a mom became daunting, scary, and at times, dark. Knowing who I am, and that I love to have people around me was a big challenge when I felt like so much of my time was spent in isolation with just Emmett. My husband working nights exacerbated that isolation, when I would come home from work, kiss him and spend probably 20 total minutes of quality time with him, because I put Emmett down for bed, and had 2 to 3 hours by myself a night with just me and the dog. While I enjoy the quiet that solitude can provide, I was never able to unload my day and process it with someone else, feeling like I was alone in so much.

My anxiety increased, fearing the worst out of the most mundane and common of everyday situations, and my isolation left me feeling depressed, getting further and further into my own head with no one to unload or decompress with. After my first anxiety attack with Emmett in my arms, I knew I needed help and sought counseling to help me learn to cope. And it helped immensely.

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies with Whipped Chocoalte Frosting single brownie on a white background with bite missing

But, even after that, there were periods that negative self talk, intrusive thoughts and depression took over, especially when I was alone. I knew I needed more help. I let people in, told them my struggles, and that I needed more support, more help, and I am so lucky that I have friends who rallied around me. When I was traveling I told one friend in particular, that I didn’t like being alone, and asked if I could call her and stay in her hotel room with her, just so I was with someone else. Her words, “Of course, friend!” were what I needed to hear.

With consultation with my health care provider, I started on medication to help me through this period. Coming to that decision was so frought with deep consideration, as I was still nursing and pumping at the time, and how would it effect Emmett, would the side effects make things worse? But in the end, I needed to try. Being my best self, also means being my best self for Emmett, and I chose to begin medication. Now while I know that some paths are not for everyone, I open myself up to you today, to share that while what I experienced is COMMON, it doesn’t mean that it is NORMAL. At least to me. Anxiety and withdrawn me, is not the “normal” me. I need quiet time like most people, and solitude at times. But withdrawing from my life and feeling disconnects from those I love is not “normal”. So while PPA and PPD are common to many mothers, many times we think that it is “how every mom feels”. It doesn’t have to be. I struggled for far too long under that same rationale, and finally said that enough was enough.

I needed more than standing alone, thinking I was the only one. You’re not alone. You’re not the only one. And YOU are worth it. So, in an effort to end the stigma’s around mental health, to help someone feel less alone in their struggle, I wanted to share mine with you.

Today, I am feeling more “myself” than I have in a year. I am more confident again, more engaged, happier, and balanced in who I am as a woman, mother, blogger, project manager, and human. Being my best self means I can be the best mom to the light of my life, and raise him to be kind, conscious, and cognoscente of who he is and help him know that no matter what he faces, I am here for him, and when he is struggling that I will always be here for him.

And I hope, beyond hope, that if you too are struggling, you can take a step to tell someone. You never know who will find relief themselves in knowing that they are not alone, too.

Okay, if you made it to this point, you definitely deserve a brownie.

This recipe for fudgy zucchini brownies with whipped chocolate frosting was given to me by my mother in law. When we visited last summer she had a whole pan ready to go upon our arrival, with zucchini fresh from her garden. These were fluffy and cakey, so my addition of one egg transformed them into a fudgy zucchini brownie that was perfect for topping with ice cream! I hope you love them! And no, don’t worry, you won’t even know there is zucchini in them!!

Yield: 16

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies

  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Shredded Zucchini

Whipped Chocolate Frosting

  • 6 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1/4 cup Butter, room temperature
  • 2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degress (175 C). Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well mixed. Fold in the zucchini. Spread into the baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the brownies spring back when gently touched.

For the frosting, in a bowl, whip together the cocoa and butter. Beat in the powdered sugar, and slowly add in the milk and vanilla. Beat the entire bowl together until the chocolate frosting is light and fluffy – about 3-4 minutes. Spread onto completely cooled brownies. Slice and serve.

Sandy Keno – my mother in law