Healthy Vegan Friday: Spinach & Black Bean Brownies

October 12, 2012

Happy Friday to you! Is it just me, or did this week fly by? Here we are already with another round of Healthy Vegan Friday recipes. I was partially giggling to myself when I wrote the title of the recipe I’ll be sharing today: Spinach & Black Bean Brownies. Sounds nasty and such a stereotypical “healthy vegan” thing to do, but, I promise, they are good!!!

I have to give Dr. Fuhrman credit for the original inspiration for black bean brownies. His recipe was featured on the Dr. Oz show a few months back and the recipe is available here. I’ve talked with several different friends about this recipe and the alterations that each of us has made over time. Jasmin of Our Hen House adds oats and Nutridude makes them in a loaf pan. Don’t ask me where I got the idea to add spinach to my version, but that’s the biggest change that I’ve made, along with increasing the number of dates to sweeten them up and make them husband-friendly. Oh yeah, I also use carob instead of cocoa powder so I don’t have to worry about the stimulating effects of the chocolate keeping me up at night, but you can decide for yourself whether you want to use carob or cocoa powder, they are interchangeable.

To start, I highly recommend soaking your dates in water for at least an hour to help soften them up (alternatively, just make sure the dates are at room temperature and very soft):

Then, you combine the dates, black beans, almond butter, vanilla, chia seeds, oats and spinach into a high-speed blender:

It takes a little work using the tamper, but you’ll eventually get a smooth batter. If you really, really need to add more moisture to get the mixture blended, you can use a little unsweetened non-dairy milk, but try not to add too much.

Next, you just pour the batter into a large glass baking dish that has been sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray. I used my largest dish which measures 13″ x 9″. The idea is that the batter isn’t too thick, otherwise it won’t cook through.

Also, let me just note, the batter will be slightly green from the spinach, but it will turn brown when baked. If you have a picky annoying selective eater in the house like my husband, then I recommend not letting that person see the brownies at this stage:

They must be baked a long time, at least 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Try not to let the top burn like mine did. If you need to, drop the temperature to 350 for the last 10 minutes of baking (update: I have also baked them for almost two hours at 300 degrees and that works great, too):

I also make a frosting to go along with the brownies instead of making the banana ice cream; the frosting is made from cashews blended with dates, vanilla extract and unsweetened soy milk:

I also want to make a strong disclaimer here that the brownies will not be firm until after they are baked and chilled completely. In other words, you would ideally make these one day and serve them the next. When they come out of the oven, they are more of a pudding texture which is certainly delicious, but you can’t slice them like a traditional brownie until they are 100% cold from the fridge. Just letting you know, m’kay? :)

Here’s the printable recipes for both:

Ta-da!!!

Even though I try not to use food for emotional comfort, they helped get me through the week, if you know what I mean. I continue to work on my preparations for going to the hospital on Monday. I ended up ordering some of Dr. Fuhrman’s boxed soups as another back-up for easy meals for next week and they arrived yesterday, along with some other goodies:

Here are the soups I ordered:

If I don’t need them next week, I figure they can always be a part of my earthquake emergency preparedness stockpile. Here’s the ingredient list for the VitaBean soup:

I have a lot left to do this weekend including a take-home midterm for my Nutritional Epidemiology class, but I am going to try to do one last post on Sunday afternoon to be posted on Monday morning. Have a great weekend and be sure to check out the other recipes from the Healthy Vegan blog party below!

Note: this post has also been submitted to Gluten Free Fridays and Wellness Weekends.



{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikki October 12, 2012 at 8:51 am

The brownies look great. I haven’t tried the famous black bean version yet. I love the idea of adding spinach. Yum.

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:39 am

Let me know if/when you make them, Nikki! :)

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india leigh October 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

girl! ? where in the heck did you get the idea of spinach?! I love it. I’ve made the black bean brownies before. Hit! I guess spinach is no different from zucchini in say muffins or chocolate kale chips. Nice out of the box thinking. Bravo! x

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:39 am

Thanks, India! :)

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Jonathan L October 12, 2012 at 11:47 am

I assume you will not touch any of the hospital food. Hospital food is disgusting. Where are you going to store all of your own food?

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:39 am

I will keep any hospital food as far, far away as possible. :) I am bringing all my own food.

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Kim October 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Ok I love spinach and I love black beans and even love the combo… but I never would have thought of putting them together in brownie form.
I am intrigued and will have to try this.
I’m sending you so many positive vibes for Monday I’m about to burst!

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

Thanks, Kim!!! :)

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Vicky October 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I love the look of the black bean brownies! Yum! I love anything with black beans in! I shared my Black Bean Salad today!

Hope you have a lovely weekend brave lady!

Vicky x

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

Thanks, Vicky! Have a great weekend, too. :)

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Alexandra October 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Carrie! You inspire me so much! Good luck on your midterm & with your surgery next week, thinking of you!

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

Thank you so much, Alexandra!!!

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Lou October 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

YUM!!! I LOVE using beans in baked goods (actually I’m kind of obsessed with using beans in sweet ANYTHING!) I really really dig your addition of spinach…. bet my little one would love these…. especially with that dreamy looking sauce to accompany!

You are in my thoughts Carrie – both your health and your study!

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

Hi Lou! I am inspired by your continued creative use of beans and I love reading about what you’re up to on your blog. Your little one is adorable and I wish I could send you some of these brownies, along with the frosting. :)

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Amanda October 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm

If you have to work hard at it in a vita mix, I doubt it will hold up in my food processor (the only thing I have other than a bullet and kitchenaid) thoughts?

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Carrie October 13, 2012 at 7:34 am

Hi Amanda! I think you could do the food processor as long as you soaked the dates so they are really soft. You might try a half batch, too, just so you don’t overload the bowl. Let me know if it works for you!!!

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Christine (The Raw Project) October 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

These look great! I haven’t tried black bean brownies yet, been a little afraid to after trying chocolate “sweet” hummus that was anything but. :-)

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Caroline October 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I agree that those black bean brownies are the best and I will definitely try your version with the spinach next time I make a batch. Thanks for the idea about soaking the dates; it will make my food processor a much happier machine :) !!

Just a side note to let you know that you will be in my prayers for this coming week as you undergo your surgery. I am sure that all will be fine and everything will progress smoothly but having a few prayers and positive thoughts coming your way can only help right? You sound so upbeat and strong and I can feel your energy simply from reading your excellent and thoughtful blog posts. Of course you have educated yourself and have done lots of advance planning which helps you mentally as well as practically deal with diagnosis and surgery. Stay strong and I look forward to reading more of your blog after you recover from this detour on your road to excellent health! All the very best, Caroline

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Carrie October 18, 2012 at 11:35 am

Thank you so much, Caroline! :)

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NutriDude October 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

That is one full Vitamix, gotta love black bean brownies!

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jo @ includingcake October 14, 2012 at 6:42 am

Yum…I often use beans in my desserts but have not yet added spinach to the mix! great job. Happy MOFO :-)

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Gabby @ the veggie nook October 14, 2012 at 6:56 am

Fantastic ides to add spinach to the brownies! Love it :)

Good luck on continuing your preparations and tomorrow Carrie. You’re in my thoughts!

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Carrie October 18, 2012 at 11:35 am

Thanks, Gabby! :)

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Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie October 16, 2012 at 6:49 am

I’m making this as soooooon as I get home. Good luck with everything, we’re all pulling for you!

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Carrie October 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

Hi Caity! Did you make the brownies? I hope you liked them! Thanks for the well wishes. :)

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Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner October 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Oh my gosh. I LOVE how you used both black beans AND spinach in these. What a great treat! :D

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Jan October 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Sorry, Carrie. This one did not pass the chocolate substitute test for me. I’ve tried to love black bean brownies time and time again. I think I will stick to some other sweets to get me through. Don’t take it personally; it’s not just *your* BBB recipe that didn’t do it for me.

I am glad these carried you through your difficult times & I’m happy you are healing well and getting back into the groove. Looking forward to Immersion in December!

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Carrie October 31, 2012 at 8:24 am

I totally understand, Jan. My husband doesn’t love the black bean brownies, either, which is why I made a frosting for them; he could just eat that and be happy. I can’t wait for the Immersion, either!!! :)

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Yvonne November 7, 2012 at 12:24 am

Just sharing this one with the family on FB thanks Carrie, hoping hubby enjoys it enough to stay out the cookie jar :)

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Carrie November 7, 2012 at 5:08 am

Let me know what he thinks, Yvonne, my hubby loves them!

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Yvonne November 13, 2012 at 5:48 am

Carrie my first batch on the weekend burnt on the bottom, so I gave hubby the burnt bits and I ate the rest smothered in frosting, ah I was in heaven lol I used small patty pans for my second batch and have cute little brownie cakes, they turned out great, I have to stop myself from eating too many…. must only eat when hungry….. lol :)

Hubby likes them but prefers Dr Fs Antioxidant-Rich Breakfast Bars and since I prefer the brownies that works out well ;)

I am going to see if I can fool my young grandsons by calling them chocolate cakes, the five year old is a fussy eater so lets see :)

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Carrie November 14, 2012 at 5:57 am

Hi Yvonne! I’m sorry your batch burned on the bottom, how long did you cook it for? I’m just curious. I’m glad you liked the overall flavor, though. I love them and could eat them every day. Let me know what your grandsons think; that would be awesome if they liked them!

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Cassandra November 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I’m a little late to the black bean brownie craze, but I just put a batch of these in the oven, which means I also just licked a whole bunch of batter off of my hands and the blender. Heh. I added a bit of salt because I don’t usually avoid it, but I imagine it’s not necessary. I was thinking of subbing a ripe banana or two for some of the dates next time for a banana bread version. I’m already impatient to try them!

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Carrie November 21, 2012 at 5:37 am

No worries, Cassandra, I’m always late to various food crazes. How did they turn out?

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Cassandra November 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Totally yummy! Glad I finally joined this craze! :-)

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Trish December 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Carrie! These are awesome! Thanks for the recipe. My 83 year old mom loves these for breakfast with fresh berries. And, the beans help keep her blood sugars stable (she’s diabetic). She’s even asked me to make a batch just for her breakfasts when she travels to California next month.

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Carrie December 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

Yay! I’m so glad you like the recipe and that your mom likes then, too! You may have inspired me to make a batch this week. :)

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Kelly B February 14, 2013 at 11:09 am

Hi Carrie! I am about to try this recipe and had a question about the blending process. I have the same Vitamix 5200 that you do but I am a “beginner” as I have only had it for just over a week. Can you tell me the speeds you used, etc? I don’ t want to break it, haha. Thanks!
Kelly

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Carrie February 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Hi Kelly! Sorry it took me awhile to respond to your message. Yeah, making the brownie batter is a bit tricky, you’ll need to use the tamper and just get it going on as high of a speed as you can to get the dates to break down. I recommend having your dates at room temperature when you start so they are really soft. I have over-heated my Vitamix on more than one occasion making this recipe, but, don’t worry, you won’t break it. Let me know how you fare!

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Lauren July 30, 2013 at 9:45 am

love the use of black beans AND spinach IN brownies. Soo making these (once I get my hands on some spinach). Thanks for sharing!

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