Black Bean Brownies – the Healthy Power Bar

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Most power bars in stores today are marketed pretty slyly. They are chalk full of protein and fiber – making most people think that they are perfectly fine to eat. However, they are also full of sugar – TONS of sugar. Many people also don’t realize that there are lots of calories in them. Oftentimes, way more than people actually need as a snack to get through a workout. Some even have additives that can cause digestive problems and nobody wants any of that on a run.

Like most people, I want to grab some easy-to-eat protein after my workouts. This is partly what makes power bars so appealing. They’re already packaged for you and can easily be eaten after your workout. When I forget a snack after my workout, I am sometimes guilty of getting a power bar out of the vending machine. They’re pretty tasty and accessible! However, most of them aren’t as healthy as they are marketed.

About a month ago I tried these brownies in a club I’m part of at school. I was not told what ingredients were used. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed them! They didn’t taste quite like normal brownies, but they satisfied my sweets craving.

I was then told that they contained black beans… What!? I know what you’re thinking. That’s disgusting! There’s no way they tasted good! Why would I want to eat that!? I know, I know. Trust me, though. Before I knew they contained black beans I actually really enjoyed them.

When I had a little spare time on my hands I decided to look into these. They contained black beans, so I thought that they must be kind of healthy, or at least healthier than normal brownies. A fellow blogger (Chocolate Covered Katie) was the first result when I typed in “black bean brownies recipe” on Google. If you click on the link then you can view her recipe. She did an awesome job documenting how to make them and even calculated some nutrition facts! If you divide the 8×8 pan of brownies into 12 bars then these are the nutrition facts.

Calories: 115

Fat: 5.5g

Carbs: 15g

Fiber: 3g

Protein: 2.5g

She didn’t calculate the sugar in them, which I think is one of the most important parts. The sugar in this recipe comes from the chocolate chip and sugar substitute (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc). I like using maple syrup and honey as the sugar substitute. I used ½ cup chocolate chips and ½ cup of sugar substitute (part maple syrup and part honey). I also tried using olive oil in the recipe instead of canola oil because it contains good fats and it came out great! I don’t know the nutrition facts for the different types of fats (saturated vs. non saturated). However, if you use olive oil then there will be plenty of good fats in there (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).

When I calculated out about how much sugar each of these bars contains, there is only about 9-10g per brownie. For only 115 calories, there is a good amount of protein and carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen stores and repair muscles that were used during exercise. It also comes from REAL foods. There aren’t any sugar additives or ingredients that are hard to pronounce, unlike most power bars.

When I came home from break, I was really excited to give this recipe a go. Here are a few pictures of my endeavor.

the ingredients

the ingredients

I used some maple syrup that I won from a race this past summer.

I used some maple syrup that I won from a race this past summer.

I also used some delicious honey that I got from a good friend of ours.

I also used some delicious honey that I got from a good friend of ours.

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These brownies are pretty dense, as they do not fluff up as much as normal brownies. The chocolate chips are great in them, and as Chocolate Covered Katie says, they are not optional. You can exclude them at your own risk, but I doubt these brownies would taste very good without them.

The recipe above is actually gluten-free and vegan. I am not on either diet, so I decided to try out a recipe that contained flour and eggs. However, I actually didn’t like it as much. They weren’t as moist and took a lot longer to bake.

The Key:

BE OPEN. No, they will not taste exactly like a normal brownie, but they will taste comparable. Try to think of it as a protein bar instead of a dessert. It’s also fun to have people taste test them without telling people what is actually in them. I’m sure they’ll be surprised!

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15 thoughts on “Black Bean Brownies – the Healthy Power Bar

  1. Pingback: The Day I Realized I’m Not a Sprinter | Joy Runner

  2. I’ll never be able to buy a power bar without thinking about what’s good/bad about it. It’s a lot of good information!

    • Thanks, Mom! I know, I LOVE power bars, but now that I know this I don’t think I’ll be eating them as often. I guess I’ll be baking these more, though!

  3. Pingback: Motivation through great WordPress Blogs – Laufblog

    • It doesn’t taste exactly like a “normal” brownie, but it does taste similar. Probably not quite as sweet, but the chocolate chips make up for that. If you really focus then you can pick up on a slight “beany” taste, but only if you know that it contains black beans. I also like eating it the next day better even though I like most baked goods right out of the oven. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I really like the idea of this. I always like to take real food out with me whilst running / cycling as a previous sufferer of IBS some of the bars/gels aggravate my delicate digestive system! Thanks for posting, will be taste tested soon alongside a Red Wine Chocolate Cake recipe I found over Xmas. This one may well be one I don’t take on a run with me though 😉

    • I definitely like idea of eating real foods as well. I look at the ingredients list for some power bars and I don’t even know what half the stuff is! I hope that it works well for you – let me know. ooohhhh – that chocolate cake recipe sounds delicious! yum!

    • Yeah they’re pretty tasty. Yeah, it’s not a huge amount of protein, but substantial for only 115 calories. The person who came up with the recipe also suggested substituting peanut butter for the oil. I think I might try that as it would definitely increase the amount of protein

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