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Healthy Vegan Friday: Spinach & Black Bean Brownies

Posted Oct 12 2012 11:38am

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:

Then, you combine the dates, black beans, almond butter, vanilla, chia seeds 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:

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:

    Print This!    

Spinach & Black Bean Brownies – inspired by Dr. Fuhrman’s Black Bean Brownie recipe

12 Servings


3 cups black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups pitted Medjool dates, soaked in 3/4 cup of water for at least 1 hour

1/2 cup unsalted almond butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 cups packed baby spinach leaves

1/3 cup carob powder or cocoa powder

Non-stick cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Lightly spray a large baking dish (I recommend 13″x 9″) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

3. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth, adding a small amount of non-dairy milk if necessary to blend.

4. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for at least 45 minutes. If the top of the brownies begins to burn during the last 10-15 minutes of baking, drop the temperature to 350 degrees.

5. Let brownies chill completely before serving, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

    Print This!    

Vanilla Frosting


1/2 cup unsalted cashews

2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk

1 cup pitted Medjool dates

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Combine ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Note: it is not necessary to soak the dates for the frosting recipe.


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 . 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 .

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