Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies – Searching For Healthy Chocolate Snacks

One of the things I thought I would miss after my heart attack was eating sweets. Thing was, whenever I had anything with sugar in it, my chest would hurt. The damage to my heart made eating anything with sugar very risky because sugar is an inflammatory and it would inflame my heart and make it ache. So “missing” sugar wasn’t really an option because I was more concerned about healing than dwelling on what I was missing.

Something that I continually thought about as I was healing however, was how to manage stress and my ever surging emotions. In my research I learned that chocolate is good for stress reduction. Of course there are contradictory reports on this, but I know from experience that chocolate does relax me. The trick is to eat it in moderation and limit the other bad ingredients that might accompany the treat you choose to eat with chocolate in it. Other inflammatory food ingredients are flour and vegetable oils. Wheat flour and olive or peanut oil are good alternatives, but cutting either of these out all together would be even better.

When I found a recipe for black bean brownies, I played around with it, changing the oil and sugar contents and exchanging the milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips for dark or bittersweet chips. I didn’t get my hopes up, but after they came out of the oven and I got my first whiff, I knew these were going to be a great alternative. Once they were cool enough to try, Grace beat me to the pan and proclaimed that they were “AWESOME!” That alone was enough for me. I took a small piece (two bites) and enjoyed my first taste of chocolate in more than 6 weeks.

My heart didn’t ache, but I admit the sugar still had some effect on me. As when I eat anything, I have difficulty breathing now. With the additional sugar, my breathing was more labored, but not so much that I was concerned. Still, I will definitely limit how much I eat of these. Don’t worry, the brownies didn’t go to waste. Grace and Zeb finished them up without any trouble.

Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies

  • Servings: 16 Servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 Can (15 ounce) Black Beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. Peanut or Olive Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Baking Cocoa
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt


  1. In a food processor, process beans, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and oil until blended.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (less the remaining chocolate chips) and process until smooth.
  3. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining chips.
  6. Bake 22-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Cut into 16 pieces.

Cooking Note

These brownies are rich, moist, and super chocolatey. No one knew there wasn’t any flour in them, nor could they taste the beans. 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Cooking 2019

These brownies were a great treat to enjoy while my heart is healing even though I didn’t actually eat a whole lot of them. My next step is to try making them with honey in place of the brown sugar. Still, without the flour, they are definitely healthier than any boxed or store-bought version out there. Every little change helps, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.


More Michigan Strawberries Than I Can Count – Strawberry Cake

As much as I like to make desserts from scratch, there are just some recipes too good not to make just because they use a boxed cake mix or maybe some boxed pudding mix or dare I say Cool Whip as opposed to real whipped cream. I have learned through the years that I don’t like being a baking snob. I enjoy the convenience, albeit in moderation, of some store-bought ingredients and if I find a recipe that calls for them that is really awesome, won’t hesitate to put it in my recipe arsenal.

Even though this strawberry cake recipe starts with a boxed cake mix, it isn’t a quick and easy recipe. That being said, the results are so worth the effort. Actually, you can make this a whole lot easier if you skip the buttercream filling and just use whipping cream or Cool Whip in between the layers as well as for frosting the cake. Of course, the results won’t be as spectacular, but the cake itself is truly worth making. It is moist, super flavorful, and one that everyone I’ve served it to asks the recipe for.

Whatever you decide, definitely give this recipe a try at least once. I bet you’ll agree that the little bit of extra work in making the cake, buttercream filling, and diced strawberries is worth the time. Your friends and family will be asking for this cake over and over again.

Ultimate Strawberry Cake with Buttercream Filling

  • Servings: 12 - 16 Servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 Package White Cake Mix
  • 1 Package Strawberry Jello (3 ounce size)
  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ Cup Vegetable, Peanut, or Canola Oil
  • 4 Large Egg Whites
  • ½ Cup Mashed Unsweetened Strawberries
  • Buttercream Icing:
    • 2 Cups Butter
    • 2 Cups Sifted Powdered Sugar
    • 2/3 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
    • 2 Large Egg Whites
    • ½ Cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
    • ½ tsp. Salt
    • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
    • ½ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Pound Strawberries, chopped small
  • 1 Container Cool Whip or 2 Cups Heavy Cream Whipped


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 8″ round baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix, gelatin powder, water and oil.
  3. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, until moistened.
  4. Beat on medium 4 minutes longer.
  5. In a small bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold egg white and mashed strawberries into cake batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared baking pans.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
  9. Cool 10 minutes in pan; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  10. Prepare buttercream filling:
    1. Place butter in mixing bowl; beat until creamy.
    2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar; mix at low speed until smooth.
    3. Whip at medium speed, adding milk slowly until light and fluffy.
    4. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until stiff while adding ½ cup powdered sugar slowly.
    5. Mix meringue mixture slowly into the butter mixture.
    6. Add vanilla and remaining ½ cup powdered sugar. Note: Double this last amount of powdered to 1 cup if you want a stiffer filling.
  11. Place one cooled cake layer on serving plate.
  12. Cover top with buttercream.
  13. Place second cake layer on top.
  14. Cover with buttercream
  15. Top with final cake layer.
  16. Combine Cool Whip or Whipping Cream with chopped strawberries.
  17. Spread whipped cream mixture over top and sides of cake.
  18. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Cooking Note

I have made this cake several ways. Another option when putting it together is to put additional chopped strawberries on top of the buttercream layers. Or rather than mixing the chopped strawberries into the Cool Whip, you can press them onto the sides of the cake. You could also top the cake with another buttercream layer and decorate with additional frosting or strawberries. The possibilities are endless.

There will definitely be some buttercream leftover, which can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

Another option is to make a strawberry buttercream by adding some pure strawberry extract instead of vanilla — you can never have too much strawberry.

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Cooking 2018

Here is the second version of this cake that I’ve made. It was my first attempt at using my new Russian decorating tips, which definitely still needs a little work. Still it tasted awesome. This one has buttercream on the top and in between the layers and has chopped strawberries between the layers and pressed into the Cool Whip on the sides.

Strawberry season is coming to a close far too soon for me. Thankfully I enjoyed trying lots of recipes with them and have bags put up in the freezer to keep the good times coming, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.



Strawberries ‘n Cream Cream Puff

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits to use in desserts. Every year, beginning in mid-May, strawberries start headlining the sale papers at our local grocery and fruit markets. Sure they are available pretty much all year, but the best, sweetest, and cheapest ones are found from mid-May through possibly August because that’s when they are truly in season. Continue reading