Nutrition and Fitness with Randa

An Unlikely Brownie

A friend of mine told me about a brownie that uses black beans instead of flour, inspired by Heidi Swanson's recipes. My initial thought, "But how can it be? Wouldn't it taste more like a burrito than a brownie?" When I took my first bite, I was amazed! They were rich, moist and fudge-like, with not a hint of bean-y flavor. What's more, black beans are packed with fiber and protein, as well as antioxidants called anthocyanins - when researchers analyzed different types of beans, they found that, the darker the bean's seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity. Gram for gram, black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity. How's that for some bean trivia?

Not that you'll want to polish off the entire batch in one sitting, but isn't it good to know that these little black powerhouses add somewhat of a redeeming quality to the much-loved brownie? Not to mention that agave nectar (or honey if you cannot find it) is used in place of the more refined white sugar. I have also omitted two eggs in favor of a fruit puree of your choice.

I invite you to try these flourless, oh-so-good black bean brownies!


  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate or dark chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or smart balance butter
  • 2 cups soft-cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 heaping tbsp applesauce, mashed banana, or canned pumpkin
  • 1½ cups light agave nectar (or 1½ cups honey)

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed 11- by 18-inch baking pan with  parchment paper and lightly spray with canola oil spray.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely.

3. Place the beans, walnuts, vanilla extract, and the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2-3 minutes, or until smooth. Add salt and blend. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well.

5. Add the egg mixture to the bean/chocolate mixture. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated. Keep them in the refrigerator until ready to eat.)

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

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Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Parfait

Parfait is a French word literally meaning "perfect" that began referring to a kind of frozen dessert in 1894.

So what do you eat when you want something chocolatey but want to feel good about making a healthy choice? Being summer, I wanted something cool, refreshing and light, but also rich with chocolate goodness. What I created was so good I decided to serve it at a party I threw, and it was a big hit! And what chocolate dessert can you eat that is low in fat, sugar and calories, and high in protein (at least 20 grams!)?

Dessert so delicious and fun to serve!

Oftentimes, I believe we do well making healthier choices for ourselves, but when it comes to our family or friends, we give them food we know isn't healthy. Maybe because it is cheaper or takes less time and thought, but I have come to realize that is makes ME feel good when I share health with others through food. My 'tagline' is "Sharing health, one person at a time", and this is one great way of doing so.

As always, you can modify this dessert according to your tastes, but here is my recipe for 20 individual servings. You could easily make this as a snack for you or your kids on a smaller scale.

Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Parfait

  • 64 oz. plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Chocolate protein powder (up to 60 grams of protein total) or 2 cups of powder
  • Splenda, stevia, or organic sugar for sweetening (optional based on sweetness preference)
  • 2 bags frozen or fresh unsweetened raspberries or other fruit of choice
  • 1.5 small bars of dark chocolate* (Choose dark chocolate with at least 60 % cocoa content - this ensures less sugar. If you don't know what the cocoa content is, choose a chocolate that is highest in fat compared to sugar or carbohydrates.)

1. Blend together yogurt and chocolate powder until very smooth and creamy. Mix in sweetener of choice until desired sweetness is achieved.

2. Place berries or fruit on bottom of cup or glass, and layer chocolate yogurt blend on top.

3. Grate dark chocolate bar and sprinkle shavings on top of yogurt.

4. Enjoy!

*Trader Joes sells a variety of great dark chocolate - try their organic dark chocolate truffle bar!

LOVE THIS! Nutrients per serving (20 servings): 167 Calories, 2.5g Total Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 10g Carbs, 1.5g Fiber, 6.9g Sugars, 25.8g Protein

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