Adding beans’ fiber and protein goodness to brownies

Lauren’s recipe for Black Bean Brownies.

Hope you all had a wonderful fall break. Swarthmore was blessed with beautiful weather. Of course, my body chose this time to get sick, but I took full advantage of the warmth for a good part of the break. As my condition worsened, I lost my appetite for everything except chocolate. Good quality, savory, dark chocolate… really soothes the soul.

Speaking of which, I’d been meaning to use some of the chocolate I had to make brownies some time. Banana brownies, one of my favorites, would have been top on the list if I hadn’t remembered a recipe that a good friend of mine recommended to me for this week’s baking endeavor.

This recipe comes from a cooking blog she came across one day, called “101 Cookbooks.” The author, Heidi Swanson, seems to really enjoy making healthy recipes and emphasizes using organic or other healthy alternatives to commonly used ingredients. From herb scrambled eggs to cucumber peanut salad, she has a great variety of highly original recipes that would be fun to experiment with when you have the time. I highly recommend that you baking/cooking fans check out her blog at

Our special guest for today’s treat is the black bean. So small and yet packed with nutrients, fiber and protein. I guess it’s nature’s way to provide some of the really ‘good stuff’ in small quantities, just to keep you coming back for more.

Now that I think back on the foods I’ve eaten, the black bean is a key ingredient to many dishes I am partial to. For one thing, I always get the black bean burger and bean salad at Sharples when I get the opportunity. (And if you’ve always wondered why black beans in particular are used as meat substitutes, the beans are rich in protein, iron and vitamin B.)

And it also helps that I grew up in a Korean food culture, which uses black beans in many ways: black bean paste stew, noodles made from black bean and the popular black bean soy drink. And because the black bean is so rich in fiber, even just a small portion of any of these foods will leave you reasonably satisfied.

It never occurred to me to add these to sweet foods, but the more I looked over the recipe, the more I felt that it was natural to add black beans to brownies. I anticipate that the beans will give the brownies an even softer and denser texture, so that you can really sink your teeth into them. And it just gets better. According to Swanson, the black bean taste isn’t even perceptible in these brownies, and the black bean batter “really worked.” I’m really excited to try these now.

Still not convinced? Black beans help regulate normal blood sugar levels, and they can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and digestive problems. Just think: you get to enjoy these health benefits at the same time that you satisfy your sweets cravings.

Lauren is a junior. Please submit any recipes you would like to share with Lauren for her to try out for her next column by e-mailing her at

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