Monday, September 22, 2008

Black Bean Brownies: Bride of Frankenfood

I rejoined Weight Watchers for the 45,000th time recently, to knock off those final 10 pounds that continue to be the bane of my existence. As a repeated on-and-off member, I’m intimately familiar with their online message boards, no doubt one of the best tools for meeting-shy dieters (sorry … lifestyle changers) like myself. Thread frequenters are a supportive crew, and you’ll find no better cheerleaders than those who know exactly what you’re going through.

Occasionally, though, some of their recipe suggestions kind of freak me out. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a cornucopia of excellent-looking meals, made from fresh ingredients and ingeniously altered to take less of a toll on one’s waistline. Yet, ultra-processed creations abound as well, and those frankenfoods permeate the boards like so much, well …

Look, I’m of the mind that “Frito” and “pie” should never appear in the same sentence together, much less on a kitchen table. If that makes me an arugula-chomping, Chardonnay-swilling elitist, I’ll … ooo! There’s wine?

But um, here’s the thing. I NEEDED chocolate last night. Needed. It. I’ve been On Plan the last four weeks, Aunt Dot (bite your tongue) is on her way, and the Mets are in the midst of their annual September chokeathon, meaning it was brownies or death.

In my desperation, I searched the WW boards. Nothing looked quick or appealing enough, until I laid eyes up on IT - the very frankenfood I desired. I was so intrigued by the notion that IT could possibly work, that I had to try IT. I figure, there’ve been 130+ recipes on this blog so far, and only one (Bruschetta Chicken Bake) has used any kind of pre-made, Sandra Lee-esque mix, so I’m allowed.

What was IT? Black Bean Brownies.

“Black bean … brownies?” you might ask. “What, did you just choose two random foods and smush them together? Like some kind of crazy culinary portmanteau?”

And I’d answer, “Stop the hate! Seriously, this works. I ate two and served the rest to four friends. They thought it was just a really fudgy brownie. They couldn’t tell the difference.”

Essentially, you puree a can of black beans, stir it up with some brownie mix and *poof* it’s a 9x13 pan of decidedly un-sinful fudginess. Admittedly, they’ll never be confused with Barefoot Contessa’s chocolatey piles of goodness, but they’re 136 CALORIES A SERVING. FOR FREAKIN' BROWNIES. And that my friends, can not be beaten.

I promise we’ll get back to real meals on Friday, but the in the meantime, if you’re craving a cocoa fix … this ain’t so bad. Frankenfood or no.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a Frito Pie.

Black Bean Brownies
Makes 20 brownies
Adapted from the Weight Watchers message boards.

1 box brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 14- to 15-ounce can black beans

1) Drain and rinse beans. Pour them back into the can. Add water to can until it's filled to the brim. Pour contents of can into a blender. PUREE THE CRAP OUT OF IT. There should be no graininess, or too-visible brown specks.

2) In a medium bowl, combine bean mixture with brownie mix. Follow the rest of the cooking directions as you read them on the package.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
136 calories, 2.6 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.14

Duncan Hines Brownie Mix: 2400 calories, 50 g fat, $2.39
1 can black beans: 315 calories, 1.75 g fat, $0.50
TOTAL: 2715 calories, 52 g fat, $2.80
PER SERVING (TOTAL/20): 136 calories, 2.6 g fat, $0.14


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