Covert Dessert: Black Bean Zucchini Hemp Brownies {Vegan, Grain-Free, No Sugar Needed}

black bean brownieFor too long, I deprived myself of the sweeter treats in life.

I was convinced that balancing my stubborn blood sugars meant zero indulgence EVER. Finding desserts that don’t spike me from here to the moon? Are free of gluten? Actually taste palatable? It’s a rare delight, let me tell ya…

A gluten-free quinoa brownie or vegan date square can be spotted on the menus of more progressive cafés and restaurants out there, but chances are they’re loaded with sugar. Truth be told, some days I’d rather take the digestive agony of gluten over high blood sugar. Miserably, even maple syrup, date paste, agave, coconut sap and other ‘natural’ sweeteners have a tendency to trigger a blood sugar swing with T1 diabetes (this is where an insulin pump/sensor can help).

I like to strive for the sweet balance between taste, health and blood sugar harmony.

Recently, I decided to experiment with the traditional brownie. Sneaking in some plant-based love without a trace was easy as pie! Zucchini and black beans are by no means newcomers on the brownie block – they’re stealth in packing healthy fiber, plant protein and nutrients into a rather rich chocolatey treat.

Hemp hearts have major bragging rights when it comes to essential fatty acids and protein, and sauced apples add some lower glycemic sweetness to this velvety dessert. I also used raw honey for its antimicrobial properties (and a hint of extra sweet).

I know, you may be wondering if I’ve just blended plants and pure air with cocoa powder before tossing it all in the oven. But I promise, this recipe has real substance!

So here’s a simple, moist and nutritious brownie that ticks off most dietary boxes…

zucchini black bean brownies

Ingredients (even better if organic):

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed/drained & preferably non-BPA lined (like Earth’s ChoiceEden or Yves) OR approx 2 cups cooked pre-soaked/dried beans
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 2 vegan flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tbsp milled flaxseed + 2.5 tbsp water gelled in a jar) or 2 free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp raw honey (optional – use alternative sweetener if strict vegan or desiring more sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


For the ‘chocolatey’ component…

  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or carob powder or dark plain cocoa)
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened carob chips (or homemade dark chocolate chips like these ones from Whole New Mom)


1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat an 8×11 baking pan with coconut oil.

2. Using a food processor (or high octane blender), mix black beans, flax eggs, apple sauce, vanilla, honey, melted coconut oil, cacao powder, baking powder and sea salt.

3. Transfer mixture into a larger bowl and fold in the hemp hearts, grated zucchini, cacao nibs and carob chips.

4. Place mixture into a baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before devouring. Also pairs well with a scoop of coconut ice cream 🙂

brownie stack

Go on, treat yo’ self!


One thought on “Covert Dessert: Black Bean Zucchini Hemp Brownies {Vegan, Grain-Free, No Sugar Needed}

  1. Pingback: Healthy Holiday Baking Tips | Miss Insulin

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