The born again cook and the vegan black bean brownie experiment

Now that I have been a doctor for almost a month and finished with school, I am starting to remember and rediscover some of the fun things I used to do. One of my goals now that I don’t have to work like a crazy person all of the time doing rewrites and research while working, is to cook my dinners on the stove – yes the stove – instead of just microwaving everything. The other is to rekindle my creative cooking spirit by experimenting with recipes. When I lived in Fort Collins, CO I cooked from scratch and regularly made all sorts of vegan and vegetarian delights from soups and ratatouille to muffins and quick breads.

To start on my goal, I did my first cooking experiment last Saturday. I literally had this recipe saved to my computer desktop for almost a year and finally had the time to make it. I must say I was a bit intimated by the sound of it: vegan black bean brownies. I found the recipe online from The Happy Herbivore and adapted it to create my own version. In my version the brownies are higher in protein and lower in sugar and could be used in place of an energy bar for a pre- or post-workout snack or anytime you want something healthy.

Since I am easing myself back into cooking I still took some shortcuts. I would have had to stand on a ladder to get my food processor down off of the kitchen shelf so I opted to put everything in my Vita-Mix. Second, I didn’t want to deal with the “do this first, do this next”, so I mixed all of the ingredients together at once and it worked out just fine. Then the last short cut I took involved using a different baking pan than the traditional 8 x 8 pan. I mean who wants to mess with cutting up a pan of brownies into somewhat equal squares? I used a muffin tin – I know – who would have thought? I even used muffin papers and it made things very easy and the bottoms didn’t even stick to the paper.

• 2 scoops soy protein powder (optional)
• 2 medium bananas
• 15 oz organic canned black beans
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa for baking
• 1/4 cup granular Splenda
• 1/2 tbsp cinnamon, ground
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup oat bran (or regular oats)
• 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 8×8″ pan and set aside (or use muffin tins and paper). Drain and rinse the beans to remove excess salt. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the oats and pour batter into the pan. Bake approx 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing. If you find these brownies are too soft or too fudgy, add another 1/4 cup oats or flour.

Note: I was trying to fill the whole muffin tray (i.e 12 muffins) but there wasn’t quite enough batter so I made 11. They turned out pretty small so next time I think I will aim for 9.

Nutrition Facts – based on 9 servings using the soy protein powder. The number in parentheses is without the protein powder and you will see the only difference is in the calories and protein, both of which are slightly lower.

Serving: 1 brownie
Calories: 124 (100)
Fat: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 22 g (21 g)
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 9 g (4 g)

And the taste? They turned out really good with a nice chocolate flavor and consistency. I couldn’t even tell that there were beans in them. Next time I think I will omit the cinnamon as it was a bit overpowering. This was fun! Stay tuned for more easy, healthy recipes and go get baking!