Baking Healthy with Easy Recipe Substitutions and Black Bean Brownies Recipe

black bean brownies

Many parents enjoy baking for their families. They have favorite recipes, and they love to experiment with new recipes from friends and family. Baked goods can make a house feel like a home, and baking is often seen as a way of showing love or appreciation. Children love to come home from school to homemade cookies, and everyone loves the aroma of a cake baking in the oven. But while baked goods are excellent for desserts and to bring to parties, their fat and calories are not. Below are a few quick, easy, and inexpensive substitutions to make your recipes healthier, but still have the same great flavor.

Shortening, Oil, and Butter

Almost all baked goods require some type of shortening, oil, or butter. To cut fat and calories, try substitution fruit puree for half of the shortening, oil, or butter. You may need to reduce the baking time by 25%. Try peaches for muffins and spice cakes, prunes for chocolate-based recipes, and pears and bananas for quick breads and coffeecakes. Unsweetened applesauce works well in almost any baked good.

Whole Milk, Half and Half, Cream Cheese, and Sour Cream

When a recipe calls for full fat milk, half and half, cream cheese, or sour cream, substitute a reduced fat version. If you use a non-fat version you are risking texture and flavor. For sour cream, yogurt is a popular substitute. For one cup sour cream, use one cup plain low fat yogurt and one teaspoon baking soda.


For eggs, use egg whites to cut fat and calories. Use two egg whites for every egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute.


While reduced sugar frosting is available at the supermarket, the flavor is not the same. Try sprinkling powdered sugar on cakes instead of frosting to cut back on fat and calories. Or you can heat the frosting for twenty seconds in the microwave and drizzle over cakes. You will use much less but still be able to enjoy the same great flavor.

All Purpose Flour

Whole wheat flour is healthier than all purpose white flour. Try substituting half of the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour in baked goods. Whole wheat pastry flour is less dense and works well in softer products like cakes and muffins.

As with any recipe, there will be much trial and error when attempting to use substitutions. The outcome of your baked good will largely depend on what you are baking when you use substitutions. For instance, brownies bake excellently using applesauce (and even pureed black beans!) but cookies require much more trial and error. As a general rule cookies, cakes, and breads will bake better with substitutions. Before you bring your next low fat cake to a summer barbecue, make sure you’ve tried the lower fat version before. The best low fat (or lower fat) desserts are ones that taste just as good as the original.

Black Bean Brownies Recipe

You will need:

  • 1 box brownie mix (19.9oz.)
  • 1 (15oz.) can black beans
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 x 9in. pan and set aside.
  2. Drain beans and place back in can. Fill to rim with water and puree using food processor or blender.
  3. In a large bowl combine brownie mix, chocolate syrup, and beans. Mix well (about 50 strokes by hand) and pour into prepared pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees or 27 to 30 minutes. Check center with toothpick before removing from oven. Brownies are done when center is slightly gooey. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.

When brownies are cool they will be dense, fudgy, and delicious! Your children will never know they are eating their vegetables!

Do you use recipe substitutions to make your baked goods healthier? Share some of your most trusted substitutions in the comments!

Need tips on how to purchase a stroller that will keep your family active from the very start? As a stay-at-home mother of 8, author Mikki knows how important it is to stay active and teach children healthy life habits through eating and an active lifestyle. Check out the BOB Stroller Review and Britax B Ready Review.

Photo by alyssaferrer/Flickr

10 thoughts on “Baking Healthy with Easy Recipe Substitutions and Black Bean Brownies Recipe”

  1. I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my baked goods. For everyday meals, we do lots of healthy substitutions. So when it comes to my dessert, I try to stay true the recipe. It’s the only time I get to indulge!

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