Uh oh, it’s April 1. We all know what that means… April Fool’s Day!
What if I told you that this indeed is no joke. These brownies really are made of veggies!
YES, HEALTHY BROWNIES DO EXIST!
Trick all of your friends, coworkers, and family members with the tastiest, healthiest April Fool’s prank yet! They will have no idea that these rich chocolate brownies are made of vegetables! Not to mention; vegan, gluten free, and contain no refined sugar, butter, oil, or salt! Take that Paula Dean.
Just make sure that no one is allergic to the secret superstar ingredients first… because that would not be fun!
I love Chef AJ’s original Black Bean Brownie recipe, but I didn’t have barley flour or date syrup on hand, so I did some trial and error with flours, making my own date paste/syrup, and added spinach! I made 2 different batches to ensure they were perfect before posting, and I found that almond meal/flour tasted the best and gave the greatest consistency. I wanted to give whole-wheat flour and try, but it came out like rubber! As I was experimenting, I found that blending the ingredients in a particular order made the process much more efficient.
Remember, even though these are made from whole healthy ingredients, that they are still treats and should be enjoyed in moderation. But go ahead, lick the batter straight from the bowl, there are no eggs!
Black Bean & Spinach Brownies
Recipe adapted from Chef AJ
Makes 9 servings
15oz, can no salt added black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cups fresh spinach
12 medjool dates (pitted)
1 cup water
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond flour
Optional 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips or vegan carob chips – as a topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a high-powered blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix!) combine the dates and water, blending until thick smooth paste is formed. Add the fresh spinach to the paste and mix until smooth. Next, add the beans and vanilla extract and blend. Finally, add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and almond flour. Blend until batter is mixed evenly. Scrape the sides of the blender or food processor as needed, as the batter will become very thick. Once batter is smooth, pour into an 8 x 8 cooking pan, lightly coated with olive oil spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Optional: when brownies have finished baking, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and let them melt in the oven for 1 additional minute. Remove brownies from the oven and spread melted chocolate chips evenly with a spatula.
Note: I checked the brownies after 35 minutes and they were still raw in the middle, so I kept cooking them in 10 minute increments, checking with a toothpick each time. The brownies took around 50 minutes to completely cook.
Side Note: I have not tried using deglet noor dates (the smaller, lighter dates) but if you use them in place of medjool, I suggest doubling the quantity to 22 since they are half the size.
EricaApril 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm (11 years ago)
These brownies are so delish! They are not too sweet but are a perfect treat! I would love to pair them with berries and if I’m feeling WiLD & cRaZy some fat free whipped cream!
CatherineApril 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm (11 years ago)
Glad you enjoyed the brownies! I like to top mine with a little vanilla greek yogurt!
NaniApril 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm (11 years ago)
Pleasantly surprised on how good and easy these brownies were to make! I loved the taste and texture and would definitely make them again!
CatherineApril 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm (11 years ago)
Awesome, this is so great to hear! Don’t you love how dense and rich they are?!
Chef AJApril 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm (11 years ago)
Love what you did to the recipe!
CatherineApril 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm (11 years ago)
Thanks Chef! More veggies never hurt anyone! The date paste from dates and water worked out perfectly!
friteuse sans huileApril 9, 2012 at 5:57 am (11 years ago)
Hey there, You have done a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this web site.
CatherineApril 9, 2012 at 8:25 am (11 years ago)
Thank yo very much! I really appreciate it 🙂
Nichol WitryApril 25, 2012 at 5:52 am (11 years ago)
I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Flawlessly composed!
CatherineApril 25, 2012 at 8:38 am (11 years ago)
Thank you very much!
LucyMay 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm (11 years ago)
I want to try making these but i only have normal dates, and I can’t find black beans where I live, would cannellini beans work instead? How many grams is 12 medjool dates? Thanks 🙂
LucyMay 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm (11 years ago)
oops sorry just realised it already said the thing about the dates .
CatherineMay 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm (11 years ago)
I’m not sure exactly how many cups of dates I used, but you want to end up with about 1 1/2 cups of “date syrup” when you’re done mixing the dates and water. You could also use 1 1/4 cups of maple syrup instead of dates!
I haven’t tried the recipe with other kind of beans, so I’m not sure how it would taste.
Let me know how they turn out!
SarahMay 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm (11 years ago)
First of all you’re gorgeous girl! Second… I loved the brownies!!! I’m vegetarian and also lactose intolerant so it’s been difficult trying to find healthy alternatives to my old favourites. Plus I have a sweet tooth just like you! I couldn’t help but taste the batter even before putting the batch in the oven ha ha! So delicious! Plus I had never heard of medjool dates before but now I use them all the time! Thanks so much for sharing your passion and your beautiful self! Keep on doing what feels right! 🙂
CatherineMay 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm (11 years ago)
Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for the kind words! Omg I could eat the batter by the spoon, it is so yummy! I’m so glad you made the brownies and are now a fan of Medjool dates! I also posted a recipe for vegan (dairy-free) Banana Bread that uses Medjool dates! rabbitfoodformybunnyteeth.com/healthy-vegan-banana-bread/ Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to send me a comment 🙂 Health & Happiness xo
KristiJune 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm (11 years ago)
I am SO excited to try this and, well….ALL of the recipes on here! I recently made the transition to vegetarian…and I’m finding that eating vegan makes me feel my best! I’m also a huge fan of healthy sweets, and I have a ton of black beans to use up…whoohoo! I am going to make these for my step-daughter’s 6th birthday! Thanks for sharing!
CatherineJune 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm (11 years ago)
That’s fantastic Kristi! Let me know how the brownies turn out! Health & Happiness xo
SarahJune 12, 2012 at 9:33 am (11 years ago)
I got an email about two weeks ago from my mom, that had your link in it. She wanted me to check out something on your blog, so I clicked on the link. I started looking and couldn’t find just one thing from the link. I ended up finding the recipe for your veggie brownies and got really excited after I read it!! I ended up running to the grocery store that very night. Though Almond flour wasn’t available I used All-Purpose flour. My family was not as excited about it as I was but they were willing to try them 🙂 It came out beautiful and it tasted as as good as they looked!! My mom later told me that she was trying to share the link for your DIY scarf and that she had no idea this was a blog with healthy vegan recipes!!I have officially become a Vegetarian for about a year now since May 🙂 Your brownies have really inspired my baking to a healthier level! I don`t know if you cook or bake any vegetarian desserts, but something I would love to see is your own version of a Avocado frozen yogurt. Thank you!!! Your and your cooking are inspiring!! 😀
CatherineJune 12, 2012 at 10:12 am (11 years ago)
Thank you Sarah! I loved reading your comment, such a cute story 🙂
I LOVE making vegan desserts! So much fun! I’m so happy I have inspired you to try some healthy baking recipes. You might like my Sunburst Muffins and Raw Bites too Oh and of course, one of my favs…. Vegan Banana Bread!
Congratulations on being a vegetarian for over 1 year, that is so exciting!
Health & Happiness xo
JessicaJune 19, 2012 at 7:30 am (11 years ago)
I made these yesterday… and literally licked my plate clean. I may never eat another “real” brownie again. Thank you!
CatherineJune 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm (11 years ago)
Hahahaha Been there done that! I like this batter more than “real” brownies! SO GOOD! I’m so glad you loved the recipe! Health & happiness xo
SaraJune 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm (11 years ago)
This recipe is AMAZING!! I am usually a baked good purist but I decided to give these a try for a friend, who is pretty much allergic to everything and hadn’t had a brownie or any sweet like a brownie in over 10 years, and she loved these! And even the other junk food lovers that tried them absolutely loved them!! Thanks so much!!
CatherineJune 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm (11 years ago)
Your comment just made my day! I too suffer from many food allergies that I have yet to mention on my blog and I know how challenging and frustrating it can be. I’m so happy that your friend was able to enjoy some brownies! What a treat 🙂 health & happiness xo
KristenJune 23, 2012 at 5:33 am (11 years ago)
Hey Catherine I know you said whole wheat flour made your brownies come out like rubber. You might want to take a look at this article my dad and I used to try to use whole wheat flour to make pita bread! http://www.chow.com/food-news/55118/are-whole-wheat-and-all-purpose-flour-interchangeable/
CatherineJune 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm (11 years ago)
Thank you so much for sharing this article, Kristen! So helpful!
JulieJune 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm (11 years ago)
I am pretty excited to try these! I’ve been trying to “secretly” introduce healthier foods into my husbands meals, and these seem great. Thanks and the blog looks great! xoxo
CatherineJune 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm (11 years ago)
Haha I love introducing my friends and family to healthy versions of their favorite dishes 🙂 He will love them! xo
CassandraJuly 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm (11 years ago)
Can you use any other flour besides Almond Flour? I’d love to try this recipe! I tried your chickpea chocolate chip cookies, and their amazing!
CatherineJuly 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm (11 years ago)
I have not tried any other flours, but spelt flour may work! Let me know if you give it a try!
JessJuly 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm (11 years ago)
I don’t know why this is but I am having a VERY hard time getting these to turn out right. I checked and double checked the recipe and I followed it exactly. Err! The only thing I can think of is maybe there wasn’t enough spinach? How many ounces are in 2 cups of fresh spinach, I never did know that conversion so I suppose I don’t know how to measure out a cup of fresh spinach correctly. They are still so soft and I have cooked them for 55 minutes! Any tips? Much appreciated! 🙂
CatherineJuly 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm (11 years ago)
Hi Jess! I have not experienced this problem with the brownies before. They do tend to be rather dense, but they should cook all the way through! I am wondering if there is too much spinach, since it contains water? You could omit it completely (it won’t change the flavor) and see if that helps. Otherwise, maybe try a higher temperature on your oven 🙂 Let me know! xo
NireyJuly 11, 2012 at 7:47 am (11 years ago)
I made these for my kiddos last night, they LOVED them! I am in love with your blog, thank you sooo much for all the awesome ideas. I’ve been following your rabbit food pyramid for 1 week now and am really starting to notice a difference!
CatherineJuly 11, 2012 at 10:31 am (11 years ago)
That is so cute! Love that your kiddos enjoyed the healthy brownies! Keep up the good work! Health & Happiness xo
CarlyJuly 12, 2012 at 10:32 pm (11 years ago)
I’m making them as we speak. My husband is allergic to almond so I bought coconut flour and…they seem to be quite crumbly so far. I’m only about 40min into cooking them…do you know any other substitutes for almond flour?
CatherineJuly 13, 2012 at 11:39 am (11 years ago)
Hi Carly! Hmm I wonder why they turned out so crumbly! I have only tried using almond flour, but I heard that spelt is a great substitute for this recipe! Let me know how they turn out! xo
CarrieJuly 15, 2012 at 7:01 pm (11 years ago)
I have a major sweet tooth so decided to give these a try. Almond flour is expensive! That being said they we easy peasey. It’s an acquired taste but it’ll satisfy my sweet tooth nicely. Husband didn’t approve but the chocolate-picky 2 year old loved them and asked for more. Can’t wait to try the chocomole recipe!
CatherineJuly 16, 2012 at 10:25 am (11 years ago)
Hi Carrie! So glad you and your 2 year old loved them! Maybe hubby will try again for the ext batch haha
SaraJuly 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm (11 years ago)
If there is a trader joes near you their almond flour is the cheapest!
CatherineJuly 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm (11 years ago)
I actually just saw almond flour/meal at Trader Joe’s for the first time the other day! You could also grind almonds yourself to make home made almond flour 🙂 xo
HeatherJuly 16, 2012 at 11:42 am (11 years ago)
Where do you typically find medjool dates? Whole foods or are they accessible at supermarkets?
CatherineJuly 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm (11 years ago)
Hi heather! I buy my Medjool Dates at the grocery store (Ralph’s, Kroger, Pavillions, Vons, Whole Foods) They are available in most grocery stores and are usually in the produce section (under or above shelves). You could always ask your local grocer if they can order them for you! Health & Happiness xo
lizzyJuly 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm (11 years ago)
I made these earlier today and they came out very soft and the top turned black. Did you have this problem? I’m thinking I.missed something or cooked them wrong.
CatherineJuly 24, 2012 at 11:27 am (11 years ago)
Hi Lizzy! Hmmmm I am not sure what went wrong. Vegan baked goods usually turn out more dense than usual, but they should still cook all the way through!
Holly O'DonoghoeJuly 25, 2012 at 6:44 am (11 years ago)
I am new to clean eating and I LOVE your blog!! Just wondering if I could substitute the medjool dates for regular ones? Or would that not work? Are medjool dates much sweeter?
CatherineJuly 25, 2012 at 10:23 am (11 years ago)
Hi Holly! I have not used regular date shut I would suggest using double the amount.
Anna BramlAugust 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm (11 years ago)
I gave one of these to my boyfriend without telling him how I made them…and he LOVED them! He was shocked when I told him what was in the recipe. They’re so yummy! Thank you!!
CatherineAugust 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm (11 years ago)
HAHA!!! Omg I love it!!!
lylaNovember 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm (11 years ago)
Unfortunately plenty of people don’t own an industrial-strength food processor
virginiaDecember 31, 2012 at 4:32 am (10 years ago)
Hi Catherine, I love your blog. I admire your steadfastness in pursuing and embracing this healthy lifestyle. That is the path I am on as well. I tried Chef AJ’s brownie recipe, it wasn’t too bad but it didn’t turn out the best. I am determined to try again and I am excited to try your version. I’m saving up for a Vitamix as we speak. I’m certain it will make a lot of these recipes come out so much better and allow me to do a lot more vegan things! Keep up the good work! You are a continuing inspiration to new vegans like me.
JulesFebruary 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm (10 years ago)
We don’t have black beans in Australia, are there another type of beans I can use?
fredApril 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm (10 years ago)
I added the following –
whole wheat flour
100% cacao 4 squares
they came out like rich fudge!
cchurleyOctober 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm (10 years ago)
I just made these brownies but I didn’t have fresh spinach so I used fresh kale and they turned out great!!!
Thought I’d share 🙂
CatherineOctober 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm (10 years ago)
YUMMM! I love Kale! So glad they turned out great! 🙂
MiroFebruary 15, 2014 at 11:19 am (9 years ago)
Mine just came out of the oven and smell fantastic! I used white whole wheat flour because I couldn’t find any almond flour. They cracked a bit on top, is that normal? Also I was wondering if you have the nutrition facts for these
JennSeptember 23, 2014 at 5:31 pm (9 years ago)
I just made these and they were FANTASTIC! They were perfect because I made almond milk the other day and dehydrated the pulp for almond flour. I tried them before with whole wheat flour, but it gave a funny flavor. The brownies were delicious, but the batter was evern better! I have a Vitamix now, but when I didn’t I used an inexpensive blender. The Vitamix is definitely worth it, but if you don’t have one just give your blender or food processor plenty of breaks so it doesn’t overheat. You could also maybe try a little more water and some flax to even it out.
NancyDecember 21, 2014 at 6:46 am (8 years ago)
This one is a keeper. My grandson (age 5) loved his brownies and made sure he was able to take some home.
Scáth ReykrOctober 21, 2017 at 1:05 am (6 years ago)
I wanted to ask, how many calories per 100 g those brownies contain.