Home / The Tardy Vegan by Donna Plunkett / Vegan, GF Black Bean Brownies

Vegan, GF Black Bean Brownies

Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

When people learn I’m a vegan, they either have a look of horror on their face or they are interested and start asking me about why I became a vegan and what kind of foods I eat. I think it is important to give you a brief background about me so you can understand why I eventually ended up this late in life choosing a vegan diet. Most people probably choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle much earlier in their lives than me. I started experimenting with a vegan diet nine years ago at the age of fifty-nine.

I was raised in a family where meat, potatoes, canned vegetables and iceberg lettuce salads were pretty much the standard fare for dinner. Breakfast was cereal with sugar and whole milk and lunch was bologna and cheese with Miracle Whip on white bread with a bag of chips and cookies and whole milk. As I grew up, thank goodness my tastes expanded, but unfortunately so did my weight and I constantly found myself trying the newest lose weight quick diet.

I met my husband, Terry, during the 60’s and we married in 1969. He also grew up in a meat and potato family, but his mother was the most amazing pie, cake and cookie baker ever!! So now desserts became a big part of my life! Again my battle with weight, made me seek out the most current diets and I started running to help burn calories because of my love of food and sweets.

In January of 2001, Terry had a heart attack and was put on statin drugs to control his cholesterol. This event totally changed our awareness about the foods we eat and how it affects our body. Suddenly, I was reading food labels, cutting foods from our diet that were high in saturated fats and changing our favorite recipes to be healthier.

Fast forward to March of 2009, I was browsing the magazines at the grocery store waiting in line to be checked out and I saw an article about a diet where you eat more, lose weight and lower your cholesterol all in 4 weeks. I was hooked, so I bought the magazine and showed it to Terry. The diet, “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn is a plant-based diet (vegan diet) that has proven to lower cholesterol, improve health, and reduce the risk of disease. For more information about the diet and Rip Esselstyn go to: http://engine2diet.com. Terry was fascinated with the idea of switching to a plant-based diet. He shared with me his legs felt weak and achy and he was not getting stronger even though he had lost weight and was running several miles a day. He had been doing some reading about statin drugs and how switching to a plant-based diet can lead to lowering your cholesterol and even eliminating the need for statin drugs. He was open to trying a plant-based diet, so the journey began!

During the past 9 years, we have had our ups and downs with this diet. Even though it is a vegan diet, it is easy to eat processed foods that are high in fat and sugar. We have learned to eat less processed foods, eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, make recipes with fresh ingredients, use less oils in cooking, eat less sugar, try new vegan recipes and be open each day to learning something new. I am happy to say that Terry is now off statin drugs; his cholesterol and annual physicals have been good.

I love reading recipe books and magazines for new vegan recipes. The Internet is chockfull of vegan recipes. If we enjoy a vegan dish at a restaurant, I can always find a similar recipe on the Internet. As we are very conscious of trying to cut fats and sugars, I usually make healthier substitutions.

One of my favorite go to vegan dessert recipes is Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies. I first tasted these brownies at the “VegFest Colorado” http://www.vegfestcolorado.org held in Denver ever year. We had just moved to Denver five years ago and thought it would be fun to check out what this festival had to offer. We attended a cooking and tasting demonstration by Chef AJ http://chefajwebsite.com/index.html. One of the recipes she was making was Gluten Free Vegan Black Bean Brownies. They were delicious, it blew me away these brownies were vegan and the main ingredient was black beans. Unfortunately, I did not get her recipe so I went home and searched the Internet to find a similar recipe. The recipe I liked best was by the Minimalist Baker https://minimalistbaker.com. I liked the simplicity of her recipe and it all could be made in a food processor. I substituted the oil in her recipe with unsweetened applesauce and incorporated the walnuts and non-dairy chocolate chips into the batter instead of sprinkling them on top of the batter before baking. I have served these brownies hundreds of times to my carnivore and vegan family and friends with good reviews. Sometimes for dinner parties, I serve them with vegan ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

vegan GF black bean browinieIngredients:

1 15oz. can black beans, well rinsed and drained
2 large flax eggs (2 heaping Tbsp. flaxseed meal+ 6 Tbsp. water)
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce (or sub oil of choice)
3/4 Cup cocoa powder
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ Cup organic cane sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ Cup non-dairy chocolate chips
½ Cup chopped walnuts



 Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Lightly grease a 12 slot muffin tin
  2. In a food processor, add the flaxseed meal and water. Pulse a few times
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except walnuts and non-dairy chocolate chips) to food processor and puree for 3 minutes. Scraping down sides as needed.
  4. Add a Tbsp. or two of water if batter is too thick and pulse again.       Batter should be not as thick as frosting but not runny.
  5. Stir into the batter the chopped walnuts and non-dairy chocolate chips before you put batter into the muffin tin
  6. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin tin and smooth the tops with a spoon
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away
  8. Remove from oven and cool 30 minutes before removing from pan.
  9. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

About the Author

Donna Plunkett and her husband, Terry, retired to the “Big City” five years ago after living in Colorado Springs for 42 years. After our children grew up and left home after college and our parents passed, we decided to make the move to Denver. We absolutely love everything Denver has to offer; the arts and cultural events, restaurants, parks, hiking and biking trails, the Rockies games and especially how friendly everyone is here.

Before retiring, Donna was an Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director of a Visual Arts Foundation and Terry was the Director of Financial Services at Pikes Peak Community College.

In our spare time, we love traveling to new places, spending time with our children and grandchildren, walking, exercising (especially Essentric’s classes) and enjoying everything Denver has to offer.


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