For several years, I enjoyed developing recipes for a community collaboration project known as “Lose and Win”, a ten-week challenge based on the book “The Town that Lost a Ton.” Participants from all over Hancock County; Bucksport, Mount Desert, Ellsworth, Surry, Trenton, and Deer Isle formed support teams for healthy life-style changes, and our group sponsored weekly educational and motivational meetings.
The Ellsworth American, one of many community partners, provided a journal for participants to record their nutritional intake, exercise, and how they felt. We created sessions on mindful eating, the power of exercise, meal planning tips, yoga, dance, smart shopping, success stories, quality sleep importance, and weekly recipes.
The program culminated with a celebration, and prizes to the teams that lost the most old habits and gained the best health. Some years there were more than 375 participants and the total weight loss was over a 2600 pounds!
Even we foodies and nutritionists get into food ruts, and sometimes I find myself mindlessly popping candy, chips and other empty calories into my mouth. Brakes on! Time for a reset!
The recipe for Black Bean Brownies is from my Lose and Win archives, and the perfect bite of something sweet. The fudgy texture provided by the beans produces a healthy, gluten-free morsel packed with fiber and protein. Because the beans provide such a richness and meaty chew, folks can’t believe they are the main ingredient.
The secret to this preparation is in your food processor, be sure to process the beans until they are super smooth. Feeling adventurous? Try adding some cinnamon and ancho chile powder for an authentic Mexican flavor. Or add the nutritional benefits of omega-3 and Vitamin E by sprinkling some chopped nuts on the top.
Healthy lifestyle changes are hard, but never underestimate the power of a group. Whenever I get in a rut, I reach out to my fitness friends, buddies that inspire me to walk, dance, stretch, go to yoga class, cook, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Because as my younger brother told me a couple of years ago, “If you think exercise is hard, try having a heart attack.” Pass the brownies please.
BLACK BEAN BROWNIES
- 15 ounce can black beans 1 ¾ cups
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder I like Dutch processed
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup chocolate chips divided
- Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8” x 8” brownie pan.
- If using canned beans, drain and rinse the beans.
- Add the beans to the bowl of your food processor. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Process the mixture until very smooth.
- Add the cocoa powder and baking powder and process again until smooth.
- Add the eggs and blend until just combined.
- Add ½ cup of chocolate chips. Pulse the mixture a few times to blend. The chocolate chips may chop up slightly.
- Scrape the mixture into the greased pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on the tops.
- Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the brownies just start to pull away from the side of the pan and the top is dry to the touch. Allow to cool on a rack before cutting into pieces.
- Makes 9 servings. Nutritional analysis per serving: 250 calories, 5 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams fat, 115 mg. sodium, 4 grams fiber.