Cocoa Bean Brownies

cocoa bean brownies

cocoa bean brownies

photo by vsimon who devoured them right after the picture

Maybe you read that right and thought, oh, cocoa bean bits in brownies, cool. But it really is cocoa and beans. You would never know if I had not told you.

Some years ago, I saw a recipe in USA Weekend magazine by Jean Carper for Chocolate Valentine Cake. Gluten free, and made with garbanzo beans. No wacky gluten free ingredients, nothing hard to find, or expensive.

It was a hit. But I took a good recipe and made it even better. Same great taste, texture and moistness, now it is a little simpler.

Quick and easy

Jean’s original recipe called for melted chocolate. Why not just use cocoa, oil, sugar, and skip the melting step? Five minutes prep start to finish. It works like a charm and is easier, cheaper, and more nutritious than a mix.

The amounts of ingredients have been adjusted a bit because the beans come in smaller cans now. And I have made this maybe a hundred times. With many kinds of beans. Kidney, black, white, garbanzo, whatever is in the pantry. It truly does not matter. Do buy unseasoned beans though. No bacon, no spice, ick, not in brownies.


I have switched to dark brown sugar because it has some antioxidants. The cocoa and the beans have much more though.

Beans, and cocoa too, are also good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. What is not to love here?

You can substitute your own cooked beans too. Use 1 ½ cups in place of the canned beans.

Cocoa Bean Brownies (or Flourless Chocolate Cake)

yield: 16 brownies

A thin batter puffs during baking, and then deflates a little.

Very chocolaty, very yummy.

ingredients metric measures
1/2 cup pure cocoa, not cocoa drink mix 50 gm
1/3 cup canola oil 160 ml
1-15 oz can beans, drained 425 gm
1 cup dark brown sugar 180 gm
3 eggs 150 gm
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 2 gm

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. How simple is that?

Oil an 8×8 inch pan. Or 9×9.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until brownies are just set.

Cool, cut and enjoy!

For a chocolate cake and a fancier presentation, use a round cake pan. Cut into wedges and serve with raspberry or strawberry sauce.

F is for Flax

field of flax photo by recursion_see_recursion

I eat ground flax pretty much everyday. Summer, winter, spring and fall. It is easy to sprinkle a tablespoon or two on cereal, hot or cold. The flavor is pleasantly nutty and it provides good nutritional benefit to start the day right. While there are many health benefits that I appreciate, I eat flax for one very important reason. Regularity. There, I said it. Flax does an awesome job of combating constipation.

It takes an arsenal of tactics to keep me going. Including pre and probiotics, lots of fiber and fluid, and regular exercise. Flax is a tasty part of the regimen.

If you are new to ground flax, I must caution you though, start slow. Start with just a teaspoon and increase the amount slowly. More is not better to start.

whole flax seed photo by AlishaV

The whole seeds are difficult to digest and may go right through you. The healthful fats are very perishable and spoil quickly. So grind small amounts in a coffee grinder and store in the fridge or freezer. And the color does not matter. Brown or golden seeds offer the same nutritional benefit.

Ground flax seeds are often used as an egg substitute in bakery goods. The common recommendation is to put 1 tablespoon in a small dish and add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Stir until the mixture thickens, when the soluble fiber has soaked up the water.

whole and ground, brown and golden flax seeds photo by AlishaV

I find this works sometimes and sometimes it is too “wet”. When I mix 3 tablespoons ground flax with 3 tablespoons hot water, I get a very very thick paste. This thick mixture works really well in my usual waffle recipe. I need to vigorously whisk this paste into the other wet ingredients to mix it well. The finished waffles are super crispy on the outside and perfectly moist inside. They do stick to the waffle maker more, so be sure to oil it well, every time.

Nutritionally, flax is almost 30% fiber, a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol, and insoluble fiber combats constipation. Flax seed is about 40% fat, over half is the very important omega3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Flax is by far the richest source of lignan, a specific type of antioxidant.

Research is underway. Flax fiber, ALA, and lignan may work together to reduce or treat numerous health problems. These include inflammation, type 2 diabetes, heart and vascular disease, cancers (particularly breast and colon), the immune disorders of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus, and even hot flashes.

A is for Amaranth

Amaranth is an ancient crop making a new debut in the last 20 years. It is a tiny seed, mostly tan with a few black seeds mixed in. It has a mild flavor, similar to rice but without the rice aroma. And it is a nutritional powerhouse.

standing in amaranth

yours truly out standing in amaranth photo by vsimon

Ancient Aztec runners and warriors ate amaranth because it provided energy and endurance. Nutrition Data shows that 1-cup serving of cooked amaranth is about 250 calories, 4 grams fat, 5 grams fiber, and 9 gm protein. That will keep you fueled on your busy day.

It is also like taking a tasty supplement in a bowl. Certain minerals and vitamins are lacking in many gluten free foods. Not here. That same 1-cup serving of amaranth naturally provides about 30% of our iron, 10% of our calcium, 15% of our folate and 15% of our B6 minimum daily needs.

photo by lsimon

Start the day with creamy crunchy hot amaranth.

It is all about the texture. It is creamy as you expect hot cereal to be, with a pleasant lingering little crunch.

1 cup amaranth seeds

4 cups water

Put seeds and water in a saucepan and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. For even more iron, use a cast iron pan.

This recipe serves 4, and doubles well. Make enough for the week and you will easily have a quick satisfying breakfast. It thickens as it stands, so you may want to add more water before reheating. Top it with fruit, nuts and ground flax seeds for even more fiber, texture and flavor.

Use up leftover plain cooked amaranth in meatloaf or meatballs instead of gluten free breadcrumbs.

Or try popped amaranth seeds. You get light airy bits that look like tiny double snowballs stuck together. With wonderful toasty flavor and scent. Simply put a ¼-cup amaranth grains in a heavy saucepan covered with a lid. Bring heat to medium high and slide the pan side to side to shake up the grains. Once you hear a faint pop, you only need to cook for a minute or two to pop the seeds. They burn easily so remove from the heat quickly and pour into a cool bowl. They are yummy with milk as a cold cereal. Eat them quick for maximum crunch.

Updated 1-12-10 Interested in amaranth greens? Click here.

Interested in harvesting amaranth grains. Click here.