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Diet Brownies: Rich, Dark Chocolate and a ‘Secret’ Ingredient

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“Would you rather eat a plate of black beans or a fudgy brownie?”

That’s what Ziporah Janowski and Julie Harrington of the Shane Diet Plan ask in their new cookbook, “Meal Simple — The Camp Shane Cookbook: Quick, Easy, Delicious & Healthy Recipes” ($24.95). (Shane has a diet resort at the Westin la Cantera where recipes from the book are served as part of the meals.)

Camp Shane's Brownies

Camp Shane’s Brownies

And the answer their question by offering a brownie recipe that’s made with black beans.

Their reason: “You can get the nutritional benefits of black beans while eating a brownie. Sneaking healthy food into dessert is more enjoyable than eating them plain on a plate.”

Still, black beans in a brownie? I didn’t believe it. So I had to try it out. Sure enough, the recipe is quick and easy, and the nutritional analysis is certainly better than a brownie from a bakery. And, they’re wheat-free.

But what about delicious?

Yes, according to the 15 or so people who sampled the brownies both at work and in my Bible study group. I handed them out and told everyone these were “diet brownies.” Yet no one believed me, and not a single person could guess that black beans were in them. I couldn’t taste them, either, and I was the only one who knew they were there.

The only caveat I got from some people was that there were no nuts in them. And I could understand that. Those of us addicted to nuts in brownies love that contrast of texture as well as the additional flavor. Perhaps that’s why I tossed a little coconut into the mix before baking. Nuts and coconut will add fat, so if you have to have them, try limiting them to a good tablespoon of finely chopped nuts and use 1/4 teaspoon almond or walnut extract instead of the vanilla.

That success makes me want to try more from “Meal Simple” and not just the dessert recipes. The Tilapia with Mango Salsa, Roasted Brussells Sprouts, the breakfast treats, and popcorn with a mix of nuts and dried fruit are all on my future must-try list. Who knew dieting could taste so good?


Cooking spray
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 eggs
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Camp Shane's Brownies in the pan.

Camp Shane’s Brownies in the pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a food processor, purée black beans until smooth. Add eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla and sugar; blending until smooth. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips and pulse a few times to mix. Transfer batter to pan and sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top of batter.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at center comes out clean.

Makes 20 brownies.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 150 calories, 4.7 g fat, 22.7 g carbohydrates, 4.1 g dietary fiber, 6 g protein.

From “Meal Simple — The Camp Shane Cookbook: Quick, Easy, Delicious & Healthy Recipes” from Ziporah Janowski and Julie Harrington

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