Healthier Brownies With A Secret Ingredient

October 21, 2010   48 Comments

Snack Girl is not someone who thinks you should alter the almighty brownie treat. Why take something so indulgent and delicious and change it?

Healthy Brownies: Black Beans and Mix

But, after listening to Bill Clinton talk about his weight loss, I have been thinking about decreasing the amount of saturated fat in my diet. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States (see:National Institute of Health) and I want to live a LONG time.

Also, my friend Lynn at The Actor's Diet suggested a magic ingredient to add to packaged brownie mix and I just HAD to try it. The ingredient, a can of undrained pureed black beans, sounded SO disgusting.

Why would you add black beans instead of oil and an egg?

First, let's look at calories. For 1/3 cup canola oil and one egg (which is what you add to my favorite brownie mix) you are looking at 705 calories vs. 315 for the can of black beans. But the comparison shouldn't stop there, because the black beans have ZERO saturated fat - while the egg and oil combination has 6.7 grams (for the entire brownie mix).

Also, with black beans you will be adding fiber. Black beans have 24% of your daily value of fiber in 1/2 cup.

How does it taste? It is kinda amazing because I didn't tell people about the beans and they loved the brownies. Why? The mix alone has sugar, chocolate, and chocolate chips! My favorite mix is Ghirardelli Chocolate - Double Chocolate Brownie Mix (thanks, Laura!). How could you mess it up? Honestly, you can't taste the beans.

My brownies turned out a bit more like cake than I like. I like really chewy brownies. Maybe if I cook them less next time they will come closer to the consistency that works for me.

Also, I used a new pan that Nordic Ware sent me for making brownies (see below). There are a couple of great things about this pan (except the price - $22). The brownies pop right out and it is easy to clean.

The best part of the pan was that it was an INSTANT portion. My brownies were 165 calories each! versus 190 calories with the oil and egg.

Have any of you seen the brownies at your local cafe? I bet they are three times the size (and I KNOW they didn't use a can of black beans :)

165 calories is still a treat, but you can feel better knowing you cut down your saturated fat and increased your fiber with this great substitution.


Healthier Brownies Recipe

1.6 from 24 reviews

(Makes 16 brownies)

Print  Pin


1 15.5 ounce can black beans
1 package brownie mix (20 ounces)


Blend UNDRAINED black beans in food processor or blender until smooth. Mix in with brownie mix and bake following package directions.

For the nutrition calculation, I used Ghiradelli Ultimate Fudge Brownie mix as my sample mix. I believe it is representative of these mixes.

Nutrition Facts

One brownie is 154 calories, 4.2 g fat, 30 g carbohydrates, 17 g sugar, 2.5 g protein, 2.3 g fiber, 103 mg sodium, 4 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

Anyone else alter baking mixes? Please share your ideas.

This product was received for review consideration. No other compensation was provided.

Other posts you might like:


Give the Gift of A Healthy Snack (Your Friends Won't Even Know Its Healthy!)

Looking for that perfect gift for that special someone? Put down your credit card and rev up your food processor.


Love Salted Chocolate Caramels? Try This Healthy Candy Alternative

No one is ever going to accuse Snack Girl of not loving a WEE bit of chocolate. But, my taste bud credentials have been called into question....

Get Free Email Updates! Yes please!

First 20 Comments: ( See all 48 )

I have posted a recipe for
Low Fat Black Bean Brownies
on my blog this morning!
Please check it out!

Last week I made brownies using:

a box of chocolate cake mix

1 can (15oz) of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

and 1-2 cups of chocolate chips.

Bake in a 13 x 9 pan for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you cut into 24 pieces the brownies only have 59 calories!!!

Similar to your recipe mine weren't as chewy as I like. However, they were really yummy. Next time I make them I might use brownie mix to see if there's any difference.

Kate and Carly - Thanks SO much for sharing! Lisa

Good Morning, this is a novel idea. I have made applesauce brownies before and I have heard of but not tried the same with a can of pure pumpkin a' la Hungry Girl. I will have to try the beans and see what my son and husband think. They love brownies and that Nordic Ware pan looks really cute! I like the idea too of portion sizes that are manageable.

I've tried a boxed brownie mix with a can of pure pumpkin baked according to the box directions. It turns our really fudgy!

Low sugar Devils food cake mix, 1 can of regular pumpkin and fiber one cereal! Yum! We've done the same with spice cakes, vanilla cakes etc. If you use an electric mixer they turn out fluffy like a cake and if you hand mix they turn out more chewy like a brownie

funny... I have had that pan for years but have never used it. It never occurred to me to use it for brownies! I'll have to try the black bean trick... love that!

I have a special ingredient I use in my brownies too but it's not

Boxed brownies are my secret indulgence. You bet I will be trying this out!

If you use the low fat brownie mix they are only 1 point on the Weight Watcher chart.

very interesting! and i love that pan and how it can control/determine portion size. i'd love a post on your favorite kitchen tools, ways to pack snacks (i love the stuff at…), and more!

Thanks everyone for the great tips! I have been wanting to try the black beans for awhile and now also love the idea of pumpkin. Will definitely need to try both! Also a fan of red devils food cake...birthday coming up soon so will have to try that too! :-) Thanks for sharing.

Just in case your interested here's a 53 cal black bean brownie recipe from Rocco Dispirito! :-)

This is the one I have been wanting to try and will let everyone know how it goes! If anyone has tried it please let me know if you like it and if you have any tips! :-) Thanks again!

OK, here is my two cents with a recipe that I have used several times. I use rice syrup instead of artifical sweetners. Like I have said before, I am lucky...this type of sweet is not my weakness...but tangle Swedish Fish in front of my nose and OH MY!

* 4 eggs (or substitute with 1 cup of Eggbeaters)

* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 2 Tbsp. low fat cooking oil
* 15 oz. can black beans
* 3 Tbsp. baking cocoa
* 1/2 cup Splenda (or other sweetener)*
* 1 tsp. baking powder

1. Grease an 8"x8" square dish with a light cooking oil spray. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

2. Drain and rinse the can of black beans.

3. In a food processor, beat the eggs lightly and add the vanilla extract and the cooking oil. Combine on low speed until blended.

4. Add the baking powder and the Splenda or other sweetener, and continue to mix on low speed.

5. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and the baking powder and stir until well blended.

6. Add the black beans to the food processor and run it on a medium to high speed, until the beans are thoroughly pulverized.

7. Add the cocoa and baking powder mixture to the food processor and run on low speed until fully blended.

When the mixture is runny, with very few lumps of beans, pour it into the baking dish. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 35-40. The brownies will be ready when a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes out clean.

*Sweetener Substitutes: maple syrup (substitute 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons liquid for each cup of brown rice syrup) OR molasses (substitute 1/2 cup for each cup of brown rice syrup) OR barley malt syrup (substitute 3/4 cup for each cup of brown rice syrup) OR honey (substitute 3/4 C honey plus 2 tablespoons liquid for every cup of brown rice syrup)

I love low cal desserts so just had to share one more that I can't wait to try! :-) It's a recipe from Chef Curtis Stone. He shared it on the “Biggest Loser” - he taught the contestants to make a 100-calorie cupcake. He achieved this low cal cupcake by using ingredients such as egg whites, Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour.

He also listed two types of frostings (Banana or Raspberry) although if you are feeling creative you can substitute the banana/raspberries with your favorite fruit to create your own healthy frosting! Hope you enjoy!

"The ingredient, a can of undrained pureed black beans, sounded SO disgusting." Hehehe! I thought the same time I first used beans in baking. But black beans and chickpeas are both AWESOME in baking. Between canned beans and applesauce, it's pretty rare that I ever use added fats in the form of oil or butter in my baking.

I tried these with my 4 kids and they liked them. They were all eaten by the 2nd day. I didn't tell them at first. Then I told them I put a secret ingredient in them and played a game of, "who can guess the secret ingredient?". I was going to pay them $1 if they got it right. Of course, they never guessed blackbeans. I bought a can of pumpkin the other day to try it, because It sounded even better. I have to admit, I didn't love the brownies like a normal batch. That was great though, because I COULD finally resist eating the whole pan. Generally, I go back for more over and over. The kids liked them more than I did.

I use applesauce instead of oil and Eggbeaters instead of eggs.


Whoa. This just blew my brain. I can't wait to try it!

See all 48 Comments

Add a comment:


(required, never published)

© 2024