Healthy Fudgy Peanut Butter Swirled Black Bean Brownies

Healthy Fudgy Peanut Butter Swirled Black Bean Brownies

I’m a pretty quiet person, but I’ll speak my mind if you let me.

I’m somewhat shy, but once you get to know me I won’t shut up.

I’m an oddball, and most people don’t get me at all.

I like washing dishes, cleaning my room, wearing pajamas all day (wait, I think everyone likes doing that), baking alone in complete silence, and most of all, making and eating desserts 24/7!  In case you were wondering, that includes dinner (but I don’t think I’m alone on that one either…)

But today, I’m opening up about something other than my quirkiness.

To put it plainly, my life as a human being, and baker especially, has been ruined!

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but that’s exactly what I thought when I received “the news.”  I found out early 2012 that I have acquired some food allergies and intolerances.  I never thought I would be opening up about this publicly on my blog, but I think explaining a few things (like the new ingredients I’m using, some ingredients I no longer use, etc.) would answer some of your questions.

In September/October 2011, during the beginning of my sophomore year in university, I began to feel a little off.  I was experiencing a wide range of symptoms from which I had no idea the causes — extreme fatigue, trembling, bloating, etc.  I knew this was not normal, but I was in school with a heavy course load on my shoulders.  I pushed my symptoms off to the side and pressed forward.  After all, I was eating healthy, exercising regularly and feeling well most of the time.

After a month or so, however, my symptoms progressively got worse — erratic heart rate, sudden sickness, rashes, etc.  I started taking things more seriously and kept a food/symptom journal.  I noticed a few patterns here and there, but the only thing conclusive was that I was sensitive to wheat.  One morning I ate a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and honey.  I walked to chemistry class and all of a sudden I thought I was going to hurl on my friend in the middle of a 300-student lecture!  For a couple of weeks I removed wheat and gluten from my diet (bye-bye bagels!) and I felt so much better, but only by 50%.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

My symptoms did not cease.  Fall semester was a struggle, it was probably one of the biggest hurdles I have overcome in my entire life.  I was stressed out with school, not feeling well during exams and frustrated that I couldn’t vent to my family who was across the country from me.  I felt physically uncomfortable walking to, sitting in, and leaving class…  the four-hour chem labs didn’t help either!  It was even difficult to walk at times.  I felt like I was using the last bit of energy my body had to simply raise my arms over my head or get out of bed.

Why was I feeling sick so randomly?  I went to the doctor to answer that question.  I completed blood test after blood test, answered question after question, blah blah blah.

The results were in.  News that relieved me, but also news that made my heart sink.  To my doctors, I am in perfect health.  I have gained more muscle and lost more fat, I have an “astounding cholesterol ratio” with low LDL (the bad cholesterol) and high HDL (the good cholesterol).  My total cholesterol level today is lower than my LDL level alone in high school… something that surprised me since I’m a meat-eater and since high cholesterol runs in the family.  So while I was happy to learn that I am not at risk for genetically predisposed cancers or diseases, I was saddened to hear that I am officially allergic to gluten and wheat.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

This was a pretty big shock to me.  I mean, I knew that I was sensitive to gluten but I never would have guessed that I was allergic.  I guess I was more surprised because I was eating at least one gluten-filled food per day!

As ridiculous as it may seem, I was angry.  I felt like my body was betraying me, like I was being punished for eating healthy.  I never experienced any sort of food allergies or sensitivities during my sugar-coma childhood!  Thankfully though, I realized that the grass was still green.  Food allergies and sensitivities don’t mean it’s the end of the world, I was just being a drama queen.  I mean, I wasn’t allergic to chocolate, avocado, peanut butter, oats and almonds, thank heavens.  I was just close-minded to all the new foods that I could have.

It took a lot of research to learn the ins and outs of my allergy, but to cure my symptoms, that time spent was worth it.  I’m glad I learned that spelt was not gluten free and that buckwheat was, despite its name.  I’ve come to the point where I can proudly say I have overcome this obstacle.  Life can be a struggle at times, like going to restaurants and the fact that I have to plan my meals beforehand.  Everyone has their problems, but we can always rise above.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

How did I rise above?

I baked.


After finding out I was allergic to gluten, I thought I would never be able to enjoy an authentic baked good again.  I would have to use unfamiliar flours and substitutes I have never heard of.  But like a superhero, chocolate saved the day (and my sanity) when I made these brownies…  the recipe quickly soared to being one of my blog’s most popular posts!

But what tops those brownies?  What beats that recipe by like, 250%?  These sweet, incredibly fudgy (and secretly healthy) Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies that are packed with a peanut butter punch!

9 brownies

Healthy Fudgy Peanut Butter Swirled Black Bean Brownies


  • 20g (3 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
  • ⅓ cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 156g (¾ cup + 1 tbs) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
  • 60g (¾ cup) Unsweetened Regular Cocoa Powder
  • 34g (¼ cup) Quinoa Flour
  • 1½ tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp Instant Coffee
  • ⅛ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup + 1 tbs Fresh Blueberry Puree (see Instructions)
  • one 15.5oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 14g (1 tbs) Grapeseed Oil (or any other neutral oil)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Paste or Vanilla Extract
  • 64g (¼ cup) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
  • ¼ tsp Salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheigt and spray an 8" brownie pan with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the flax and almond milk, set aside to gel up.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the erythritol, cocoa powder, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, instant coffee and salt.
  4. In a blender, puree blueberries and measure 1/2 cup + 1 tbs. Remove any leftover puree from the blender and add the 1/2 cup + 1 tbs back in. Add the beans, oil, vanilla paste and flax gel and puree until smooth.
  5. In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir together the peanut butter and salt and microwave for 20 seconds, or until warm.
  6. Pour the dry over the wet and fold together (batter should be thick). Scoop into the prepared pan and drizzle the warmed PB mixture over the brownie batter in lines. Make swirls by dragging a knife the opposite way of the PB lines.
  7. Bake for ~55 minutes, or until surface is firm when tapped. Let cool in the pan for ~30 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Slice when completely cool (I sliced them the same day, but they were somewhat delicate so I recommend covering the brownies with plastic wrap, leave them overnight and slice them the next day)


Feel free to fold in some chocolate chips or your favorite nuts!

Healthy Dessert Blog

Can you believe it??  Super thick, fudgy and decadent Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies for only 150 calories a piece!  They taste like giant fudgy calorie-bombs.  They certainly don’t taste sugar free, high protein, vegan or gluten free in the slightest.

So in case you were wondering… YES, you can have an extra brownie (or two) with no guilt involved.  This recipe is a must make!

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies


Are you jealous?  Because you should be jealous.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

You really gotta make these brownies.  Allergies or no allergies, they will rock your world!


57 comments on “Healthy Fudgy Peanut Butter Swirled Black Bean Brownies

  1. Do you think the blueberry puree is necessary? Can it be replaced with something else? Maybe applesauce or banana? Just curious, as I would be more likely to have those items on hand.

    This looks fabulous! Once I order some Erythritol, I will give it a try! :)

    • Michelle-
      You can definitely use banana even though it might add some flavor to the finished product (but chocolate, PB and banana sounds pretty good actually!)
      I think applesauce might have too high of a water content and will either make the brownies super cakey or too mushy. A commenter on the Fudgy Black Bean Brownies post made the brownies with pureed peaches with good results (I’m sure canned would work), but overall I think banana would be the best way to go :)
      Hope you like the brownies 😀

    • I was about to ask the same thing… Perfect :)

  2. Since this post was about you realization about food allergies, i just wanted to share a little issue i seem to have with a particular ingredient that you use frequently, erythritol. While i wouldnt go as far to say that i have an allergy, it does have a very negative effect on my digestive system. I was using a lot of truvia in my diet…like alot. When i read the seperate ingredients in truvia i researched possible side effects of all of them and turns out it was the erythritol. Once i cut it out of my diet…the problem subsided. Now as a precaution i make sure to only use 100% organic liquid stevia and i carry 100% organic liquid stevia packets with me everywhere. Just thougt i’d share. Love your blog as always…keep it up:)

    • Lexi-
      I’m sorry to hear you have a problem with erythritol but I’m glad you figured out what was bothering you! I’ve done a lot of research on sugar substitutes (like xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol, sucralose, etc) and erythritol is known to be the one that doesn’t cause a lot of gastrointestinal distress… but of course, everyone reacts differently. I’ve seen a lot of health food bloggers use xylitol, which has more calories than erythritol, but is still a good replacement for sugar. Maybe you can try that out? Otherwise, sucanat, maple sugar, date sugar, etc are still great choices! I’m glad you shared that with me, I think I’ll start using a blend of sweeteners now rather than 100% erythritol :)

  3. Great post, well written and inspiring! Whilst I feel very lucky not to have intolerances, I usually chose to eat gluten free where possible as it makes me feel less weighed down. I love the Gluten Free Goddess blog- many if not the majority of her recipes should tick your boxes.

  4. I’m really glad you came forward to talk about this! Your allergy-friendly recipes are what brought me to your site.
    Can I ask what test did your doctors used to determine your allergies and sensitivities? A Cyrex panel, or a different test?
    Keep the great recipes coming! :)

    • Amber Shea-
      I honestly don’t remember the names of the tests I took, sorry. I remember that one of them was an IgG test, which I have found is not a 100% accurate test so I took a few different blood tests later. Other than that, I kept an accurate food journal (down to the ingredients!) along with the symptoms and times I experienced them. Some foods that I thought I was allergic to, I am really only sensitive to in large amounts or if I eat them often (like vanilla, cinnamon, bananas, etc)
      If you want to get tested for allergies, talk to your doctor, a registered dietician or allergist :)
      Hope you like my future recipes!

  5. my oh my these look amazing I think it’s great that you dedicate your website to healthy desserts! It’s what I run to just to stare at when I have cravings because at least its healthy if I decide to make anything. Im sorry to hear about your allergies but look at it this way, you can be even more creative and help many of those who have allergies to those food items too! Wish you well! And I am definitely going to make these soon after my training!

  6. Thanks for sharing all you did about this! I’m so sorry you had to suffer so long before you found out what was bothering you! You have such a talent for making amazingly creative and delicious goodies, I have no doubt you’ll rise above any challenges this may create. These brownies look insanely good! Love the dessert chart- I need to use one of those!

  7. So strange… I developed a couple weird food intolerances while I was in college, too!! As did my cousin! and when I looked it up, it seems a common thing to happen for females around age 20. WEIRD, right? I made up a “log” of what I was eating just like you did… and narrowed it down to mostly nuts, and strangely bananas and apples too. I cut nuts out of my diet completely and scaled waaaaaay back on bananas and apples. Every once in a while, I would test them out, and sadly it would always lead to feeling like crap again. However, slowly, after a couple years, I found I was able to re-introduce some nuts into my diet (in small quantities) and felt ok! I started with walnuts, then pecans… but still couldn’t do almonds or peanuts. A couple years after that, I tried almonds again (see this post: and to my joy, I can now eat them in moderation. Peanuts are still out. :( Bananas and apples I can now eat if they are cooked (in breads, etc). Anyways, sorry to hear about your intolerances… just keep in mind that it might not be forever, and maybe try them again in a year or so (in small amounts), just to see what happens! :)

  8. I was feeling really bloated a few weeks ago and I thought it was due to all of the baked goods containing wheat and gluten, so I went on a mostly-Paleo diet and stopped cooking with flour for a while and I felt so much better! I’m definitely not allergic to gluten or anything serious, but limiting it really has made me go back to eating more veggies, which I had been neglecting in order to make room for dessert (they were healthy desserts, but really, as much as I was eating was not healthy for anyone!) Lately I’ve been cooking with flour a little more, but I still make sure I get my veggies and I get to keep my six-pack! :)

  9. You’re amazing! That must have been so hard to go through but it seems like you do a great job!!! These brownies look so fudgy and dense and amazingly delicious!!!!!!

  10. Oh, you’re genious! This recipe looks too good to be true, and the brownies look DIVINE! Must give it a go, though I may be forced to substitute some ingredients as the recipe looks a bit complex and expensive for my student budjet… would you think that oat flour would cut it for quinoa flour? I would also substitute canola oil for grapeseed oil and some other (healthy) sweetener for the odd-word-sweetener you used…

    But yeah, I MUST give them a try. I’m afraid I’ll miss a lot if I don’t 😉

    Thanks for the recipe!

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  12. you are my hero, and i ADORE your blog :) most of my family is sensitive to gluten and dairy and my dad has to stay away from sugar so your blog is a lifesaver! thankyousomuccchhhhhh 😀

  13. Thanks for finally sharing! I’m one who liked your blog before but it’s even easier for me to make your recipes now that they’re gluten and dairy free. I too developed allergies during college as a 20-something female, strange. It’s a long journey and don’t think it’s over yet, but good things can come from something as painful as food allergies.

  14. Hi Jessica! I just thought I’d mention that erythritol can be derived from a soy origin. I understand that it is a sugar alcohol, but I thought with your newfound allergies, you might like to know this. This recipe looks awesome, by the way! I’ve been really loving coconut sugar (do you ever use that?). The calorie content is higher, but some of these sweeteners that claim they are calorie free seem highly processed and scare me!

  15. Hi Jessica,
    These look amazing! I just have one question regarding your food intolerances, if you don’t mind??
    How are you with oats? Do they make you sick? The protein in oats is remarkably similar to gluten and often causes problems. Bought to you by the gluten intolerant girl who can’t have oats either :(. Just wondering with your recipes with oat flour is I can substitute with rice flour?
    Thank you!

    • Courtney-
      I am perfectly fine with oats! I don’t have Celiacs or other issues, so as long as the oats are certified GF (I use these: I’m fine… too bad, since they’re so much more expensive than Quakers :(
      As for substituting the oat flour, I’m not sure… it really depends on the recipe. I find that oat flour provides a very soft texture and absorbs a little more liquid that rice flour, but that’s just in my personal experience. If you use rice flour, maybe try adding a tiny bit of xanthan gum (not too much or it will be gummy). Hope this helps!

  16. While I can definitely see as a food/baking…. scientist(?) hearing the news of having to eliminate so many easy and cheap ingredients would be upsetting, who more perfect than you to be given that challenge and help so many in similar situations!

    So far the only items that cause a reaction in me is artificial sweeteners. I am sensitive to side effects of many things such as medicine also so I always research when something “new and natural” comes out. Luckily with me I can avoid medicines since I rarely need any and only use them when absolutely necessary (like during my c-sections;) and only using true natural sweeteners is easy when you make your foods yourself.

    Its hard though when you see something in the store that sounds so good then you see its full of some sort of artificial sweetener. After researching agave and Stevia, I stay away from those also which means I rarely ever have store-bought treats. A small dose once doesn’t seem to have much affect but frankly even for health reasons I just don’t bother and try to come up with my own homemade versions.

    I love your blog and your recipes are easy to adjust with a replacement ingredient if needed. Everything I have made tastes great and I feel great feeding it to my daughters! So Thank you!

    • Jenny-
      Aw thanks so much!!
      I find that I react badly to sweeteners like Splenda, even though I admittingly love the taste… but with all the natural sweeteners out there (like date sugar, coconut sugar, etc) there really is no reason to use Splenda. I also get frustrated when I find a product that says it’s sugar free and contains sucralose or aspartame, or when I find a product that is gluten free and is entirely made up of cornstarch… I agree, homemade is always best :)

  17. I read this post about an hour after you first posted it… but I forgot to comment! 😀

    I developed my allergies when I was seventeen. At first I found that it was so weird to have just noticed these food allergies while most kids get them when they are a lot younger. My doctors now speculate that it was caused by my long use of antibiotics. I’m still in the healing process with regards to my stomach. I can’t eat anything high in fat or fiber along with my allergies… So that rules out nuts, coconut, beans, cauliflower, broccoli etc. Hopefully one day some of my allergies and sensitivities will go away, but for now I just have to deal.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! It’s inspiring that you can still make so many wonderful recipes, despite your allergies. Look forward to more in the future! Thanks :)

  18. hi jessica!
    I’ve been reading your blog for a bit but have yet to bake anything yet because i’m kinda a wing-it type when it comes to cooking/baking and your recipes look so perfect!
    I’m actually in medical school now, trying to become an allergist :)
    I’ve been allergic to raw bananas since I was little (it is more of an oral allergy(proteins are similar to pollens I am allergic to) since I can eat them raw)and I’ve been very sad I can’t eat all those banana “froyos” i’ve been seeing online.
    but anyways, I actually worked for 2 years out of college doing food allergy research at one of the top food allergy clinics in the country so if you have any questions let me know!
    ps. these are great tests to get as they are cutting edge but not covered by insurance yet :( IgG testing means nothing most of the time (good allergists just use IgE testing) so if you never had a problem eating something, please don’t avoid it just because the test says you are sensitive!

    • Thanks so much for the info Stephanie! I got an IgG test first but after some research I learned how inaccurate the test was, so I got some other tests done. Thank goodness I did that research though, because then I would be avoiding basically every food I love (pineapple, honey, eggs, and so on)

      And good luck with med school! I would love to have an appointment with YOU, you seem so dedicated and helpful :)


  19. It is just so disheartening to hear that kind of news. I’ve had allergies all through my life, but some will appear out of the blue sometimes, and it’s very frustrating. I’m so glad I found your blog – I love all of the recipes I’ve seen so far! Thanks for sharing, and good luck being allergy-free!

  20. Hey there!

    I find you blog quiet interesting. I was wondering if I can substitute black beans with some other beans in case I don’t have access to it?

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  24. I am so excited to try these! I love all things healthy and always trying to find new ways to make healthy food taste even better! I looooove your blog,

  25. Made these today and they were awesome! I subbed xylitol for the erythritol and it worked just fine. It was awesome being able to eat some brownies without having to feel totally guilty afterwards. Thanks!

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Rebecca- Yay I’m so glad you liked the brownies! It’s good to know that xylitol works as a replacement, I’ve been wanting to try out xylitol for a while now :)

  26. These brownies are SO good!!! They completely fixed my chocolate/sugar cravings, and they were amazingly gooey and delicious! I even ate a ton of the batter because it was so darn good (and egg-less)! Thank you so much for all of these recipes, this blog has completely changed the way I look at desserts :)

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Yay I’m so glad you liked the brownies!! I’m surprised the batter tasted good haha but that’s good to know for the future :)

  27. This is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very accurate info_ Thanks for sharing
    this one. A must read post!

  28. Normally I do not learn post on blogs, but I wish to
    say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do so!

    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you,
    very great article.

  29. Hi, I recently found your blog. I must say, i really like it and even though I dont have any food allergies I’m very eager to try the recipes. The brownies look absolutely amazing!

  30. This is a topic that is near to my heart… Thank you!
    Where are your contact details though?

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