“The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families.”–Michael Greger, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
When I read the above quote, it gave me reason to pause. Hmm. Reflecting on the generations that I knew within my family lineage, I realized three things. One, I came from excellent cooks on both sides of the family. Two, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimers/dementia were clearly present on both my paternal and maternal sides of the family. Thirdly, those same two facts could pretty much be applied to most of my husband’s, John, family heritage.
Let’s be honest, food is often the center of gatherings, events, and holidays. While food is nourishing to the body, it is also comfort, warmth, love, and care, all wrapped up in a flavorful and aromatic quilted blanket of tradition. Every family has their own unique variation of food traditions. Even in families where the art or time for cooking has been lost, there are still food-centered events. People love food, and why not?
Unfortunately, food doesn’t always love us back–depending upon the foods we choose to eat, the portions we consume, and the beverages we down with it. That said, I am not writing to push any one way of eating, cooking, or approach to food in general. It is my firm belief that lifestyle and diet is an experiment of N = 1. Everyone has a unique genetic make-up, body, and life circumstances, so who am I to know what works best for each individual. However, I do think most can agree that consuming more plant based foods is never a bad thing.
One of my most treasured family recipes is my Grandmother Helen’s brownies. It is the go-to recipe I make for special occasions, and it is most often requested by my daughter, Maddie. In fact, I created a gluten-free variation of it, so that I, too, can enjoy this wonderful and scrumptious treat. Thus, it was the combination of the quote above and my love for my grandmother’s brownies that led me to the research I used as motivation to cobble together this recipe variation for brownies that includes more plant based foods and uses less sugar.
I give credit and inspiration from the following sites: chocolatecoveredkatie.com, dailydozenmealplans.com, nutritionfacts.org, busbysbakery.com, and The Jaroudi Family on Youtube. Their recipes, combined with my own experience, gave birth to this healthier variation of my grandmother’s brownies. Don’t get me wrong, I still plan to bake Grandmother’s Helen’s version for special occasions–there’s no replacing it; however, this recipe will do, as Grandmother Helen used to say, “in a pinch,” in order to satisfy my sweet tooth, but still sneak in the healthful benefits of a few more plants into my day.
From my heart to yours, I appreciate you reading this and wish you much health and vitality! I hope this will be a recipe you try! However, based upon my experience, you may not want to let your tasters know there are black beans in the brownies until AFTER they’ve eaten it! I’d love to hear your thoughts, and be sure to share your variations with me.
Recipe below pictures ⬇️
Fudgy, Healthier Brownies (With Black Beans)
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 fleggs* (can substitute with 2 eggs)
¾ cup cocoa powder
½ cup oats
½ cup applesauce (can substitute with ¼ cup vegetable oil)
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider or white)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup or more chocolate chips
Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts to sprinkle on top of batter before baking OR 2-4 tablespoons of peanut or almond butter mixed into the batter before baking
If using flaxseed (fleggs) instead of eggs, add 2 tablespoon flaxseed to a small bowl, and add in 6 tablespoons of water. Stir and place in the fridge for 5 minutes.
Prepare square baking pan (8 x 8 or 9 x 9) by lining with parchment paper or spraying with nonstick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, high speed blender, or with a quality mixer set on higher setting, mash beans. (You can also do this by hand.)
In a large bowl, mix mashed beans with the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT chocolate chips and nuts if using.
If using almond or peanut butter, it SHOULD be mixed into the batter.
Using a spoon, gently fold in chocolate chips (and/or nuts if desired) into the batter.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Add more chocolate chips and/or nuts if desired on top for decorative effect.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Allow to cool 10+ minutes before serving.
Store leftovers in the fridge. These brownies magically get better after a day in the refrigerator!