Friday, April 11, 2014

Gluten-free and Sugar-free Black Bean Brownies

So this year for Lent, I've given up sugar and I've managed to stay on track! Let me clarify real quick that when I mean sugar, I'm talking about processed, bad-for-you kinda sugar. Natural sugars you find in fruits or good sweeteners like stevia are totally fine in my book. It was my sister's birthday this week which meant a lot of saying no to sugary sweets, and trust me it was difficult. I admit, though, I slipped up once when I had to try this new salted caramel cake from one of my favorite bakeries. But, other than that I've been sugar free since the beginning of Lent! To make things easier on me, I decided to bring one of my own creations that I knew I would be able to enjoy as everyone else around me was chowing down my cake and ice cream. I decided to give black-bean brownies another try. Awhile back when my sister was still living in Tennessee, we tried to make a batch when I was visiting her. Let me tell you, it was a disaster. They turned out horrible! Cake-y, dry, and tasting horribly of beans. Chocolately beans is not a taste that I care for so we abandoned that recipe pretty quickly. However, this past weekend I was feeling brave and decided to come up with my own recipe based off some recipes that I had looked at online. A lot of them unfortunately had white sugar or vegetable oil so I figured I would make a few swaps and see what happened. For a first time experiment, I think the brownies came out well and my family approved! So for starters, here's what you'll need:

**yields 12 brownies**

1 can (15 oz.) of organic black beans

3 eggs

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup baking stevia

2 tablespoons agave (or more depending on your sweet tooth!)

pinch of salt (omit if the beans are not low-sodium)

1/4 cup walnuts chopped (optional)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

1. preheat the oven to 350
My baking assistant!

2. Drain the black beans and rinse them well. Pat them dry with a paper towel so you don't add too much extra moisture to the batter. I wasn't able to find reduced sodium black beans at Trader Joe's so mine were made with sea salt so I left out the salt because I didn't want to make them too salty. 

Someone else came running to help once he heard me in the kitchen!

3. In a blender, combine the beans, eggs, vanilla, applesauce, cocoa powder, stevia, and agave. 

4. Melt the coconut oil. Allow it to cool for a few seconds and add it to the blender, too. 

5. Blend all the ingredients together. Make sure that everything is incorporated and there are no chunks of beans. This is also where you should check the sweetness of the batter. For me, I only used 2 tablespoons of agave but I would recommend possibly adding one more tablespoon since some of the sweetness of the batter didn't carry over once the brownies were baked. If you're adding the chocolate chips, though, be careful that you don't add too much extra sweetener! It's all about your sweet tooth :)

6. Grease an 8x8 baking dish and pour the batter in the pan. 

7. Sprinkle in the chopped walnuts. If you don't like walnuts or have allergies, then I would suggest adding dark chocolate chips! I would've done this but since it was Lent, I couldn't have the chips. You better believe that when I make this again I won't leave out the dark chocolate! Some other fillers that I think would be good are pecans, macadamia nuts, white chocolate chips or even a peanut butter swirl!

8. Bake for about 30 minutes. Use the toothpick method to make sure they're done. 

9. Allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting them into squares. Slice 'em up and enjoy :)

Nutritional information-- this is with the walnuts included! It should be around 75 cal. without the walnuts
        95 calories, 5g fat, 3g sugar, 2g fiber, and 3g protein

***note: I'm a big fan of brownies with icing but I was pressed for time before the party so I wasn't able to experiment with a healthy icing without any sugar. I'll keep you posted with a good icing recipe for these brownies!

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