Adzuki bean brownies are a revelation. Who would have thought that you could take a can of red beans and a few other healthy ingredients and turn them into something so delicious? Healthy bean brownies have the fudgy texture and rich chocolatey-ness that you’d expect from a brownie, but are less sweet. These gluten free, low sugar brownies can be enjoyed as a snack, or as a healthy dessert served with this easy chocolate sauce.
What you'll love about the recipe
- Healthy and nutrient-dense bean brownies
- Gluten free, dairy free, egg free and vegan (use maple syrup)
- Naturally sweetened and low in added sugar
- Easy 30 minute recipe
- Ideal as a snack, dessert or healthy lunchbox treat
Healthy adzuki bean brownies
Beans are of course full of nutrients. They are high in fibre, and high in protein. Beans are also a great source of minerals such as magnesium, potassium and zinc. They also contain important vitamins such as B6 and folate.
If you think about it, maybe it’s not such a surprise to find beans in a baked sweet treat. In Asia there is a tradition of red bean desserts and pastry fillings (sweet bean paste). And beans can also be ground into flour for use in baked goods.
Cocoa is also good for your health. In fact it was originally used as a health ingredient when it was first brought over to Europe. It is rich in polyphenols and flavanols which have numerous health benefits. If you want to read more about the health benefits of cocoa, click here. Another healthy treat you might like with cocoa is these cocoa dusted almonds.
Or, for another healthy chocolate recipe with a clever twist, why not try this healthy avocado mousse?
Adzuki beans. These are also known as aduki beans, azuki beans or red beans - they are all exactly the same thing. They are widely available with the other pulses in supermarkets and health food shops. This adzuki bean recipe works particularly well as these red beans have a sweet nuttiness.
Conveniently, this adzuki bean brownie recipe uses a whole 400g can of beans (235g drained weight). If you prefer, you could use dried beans that you have cooked yourself - but note that you'll need to weigh out 235g of the beans when they are cooked rather than raw.
If you prefer, you could make these healthy brownies with another type of beans - either black beans or haricot beans would be fine, although they are slightly less sweet than red beans. Either way, you'll still end up with a rich dark chocolate colour due to the cocoa content.
Oats, oat flour or ground almonds. This flourless gluten free brownie recipe doesn't use any wheat flour. But it does need a little oat flour or ground almonds to bind it together. I love the flavour and fudgy texture that ground almonds gives these healthy brownies, and you can intensify the almond flavour with almond extract as well if you prefer. However, sometimes oats are more practical, especially if you have nut allergies, or want to include adzuki bean brownies in a school lunchbox. You can either use whole oats which will be processed into flour with the rest of the ingredients, or use oat flour if you have it.
(If you want gluten free brownies, you’ll need to ensure that you use certified gluten free oats.)
Apple puree adds sweetness and moisture to the recipe. If you prefer, you can replace it with another sweet fruit or vegetable. One small mashed banana also works well, although you may need to add an extra spoonful of water if the mixture is a little thick. You could also try cooked sweet potato if you happen to have some left over. Let me know in the comments if you want any further advice, or want to share your results.
I’ve also used a small amount of honey to add a little extra sweetness to these adzuki bean brownies, but molasses are also delicious and give a caramel-y flavour. Or if you prefer you can use maple syrup to make healthy vegan brownies. A little vanilla extract also enhances the chocolate flavour, but it's not essential. These naturally sweetened brownies are much lower in added sugar than a traditional brownie recipe.
Brownies with cocoa have a rich chocolate flavour. Make sure that you use unsweetened cocoa rather than drinking chocolate which has a lot of sugar added.
I’ve also added a small amount of chopped dark chocolate as well for good measure. Sprinkling the chocolate on the top of the brownies makes them look and taste extra good, but it is optional. If you prefer you could buy dark chocolate chips rather than using chopped chocolate. A high percentage good quality dark chocolate should be naturally vegan and dairy free, but check the label.
You'll also need some olive oil - or you can use coconut oil instead, and a small amount of baking powder to give the brownies a little bit of rise.
How to make adzuki bean chocolate brownies
The method itself couldn’t be simpler – just process all of the adzuki bean brownie ingredients together. The more powerful your blender, the better the texture you’ll achieve as the beans (and oats if using) will be more finely broken down. I've also successfully made these adzuki brownies using an immersion blender and a tall jug.
Add the beans, cocoa, oats or ground almonds, apple sauce, olive oil, honey, vanilla and baking powder to the bowl of a food processor.
Blitz the ingredients until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and blitz once more so that the mixture will fall from a spoon.
Spoon the mixture into a lined tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle over the chopped chocolate. A 7 x 7 inch (or 18 x 18 cm) will be right for this amount of mixture. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Leave the mixture to cool in the tin, as it will be very fragile when warm. Cut into squares when cool.
These healthy chocolate brownies will store well in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days.
Frequently asked questions
Yes! Whilst most brownie recipes are very high in butter, sugar and chocolate, it is possible to make a delicious healthy brownie using nutritious ingredients. These healthy adzuki bean brownies use red beans and apple sauce for a naturally sweetened, rich, fudgy brownie.
One of these low calorie adzuki bean brownies has just 108 calories. They are nutrient-dense and very satisfying, and the fibre from the beans and cocoa will help to keep you feeling full.
Yes, adzuki beans, or red beans as they are also known, have a naturally sweet, mild and slightly nutty flavour. In Asia in particular, red bean desserts are quite common.
Other healthy chocolate recipes
There's lots of other healthy chocolate recipes on Cinnamon and Kale. Try browsing the health baking category for more inspiration.
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a rating and/or comment at the bottom of the page. Your feedback and questions are much appreciated.
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Adzuki Bean Brownies
- Food processor, blender or immersion blender
- 400 g can adzuki beans drained and rinsed
- ½ cup oats or ground almonds see ingredients notes above
- 3 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoon applesauce unsweetened
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 4 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
- few drops vanilla essence
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon water
- 30 g chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line an 7x7inch (18cm x 18cm) baking tin with baking paper or parchment.
- Add all the ingredients except the chocolate to a food processor. Blend well until smooth. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl down once or twice to ensure you get a smooth texture.
- Add one or two tablespoons of cold water and blitz again to get a consistency that will just drop from a spoon.
- Spread the mixture evenly into the tin. Scatter on the chopped chocolate. Bake for 20 mins.
- Leave to cool in the tray, then lift out carefully and cut into squares. Store in an airtight tin.
- You can use either oats, oat flour or ground almonds for this recipe. Half a cup of oats weights 45 g, half a cup of ground almonds weighs 55 g.
- If you don't have applesauce, use a small ripe banana.
- You can use honey, molasses or maple syrup as a sweetener.
- If you don't have adzuki beans, use black beans or haricot beans instead.
- You can use coconut oil (or another healthy oil) instead of olive oil.
- Use chocolate chips rather than chopped dark chocolate if you prefer
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.