This is not your normal brownie! It also happens to be nutrient-packed, chocolatey and indulgent.

This fall we celebrated Thrive Week with a snack recipe contest. Delicious and healthy recipes were shared by UBC students, staff and community members. Student Sophie Varabioff’s Black Bean Brownie recipe was selected because it is healthy, but also deliciously indulgent.

Sophie and a friend worked with UBC Executive Chef David Speight, Chef Andy Chan (Executive Sous Chef for Retail, Mobile and Concessions) and Registered Dietitian Melissa Baker (Manager of Nutrition and Wellbeing) to perfect the recipe, which will be featured at UBC Food Services locations soon.

Q&A with Sophie Varabioff:

Tell us about yourself!
Having grown up around Vancouver, you could say my enthusiasm for the outdoors and healthy eating is well founded. This brownie recipe is from Christina Lake, a small town in southeastern BC, and my second home. As you indulge in the chocolaty goodness, let it inspire you to start cooking or go for a hike in this beautiful province!

Why did you chose the recipe?
I came across this recipe a couple summers ago, in a weekly newsletter for Christina Lake. I LOVE making a batch on the weekends to have in the fridge as a quick snack during the week when I’m busy with classes and everything. They’re so delicious with a coffee or a glass of milk and so nutritious. I am excited to see them around on campus and give others the opportunity to enjoy them as much as I do.

What’s healthy about it?
Beans are a great source of potassium, fibre, and iron – nutrients many students do not get enough of! Low iron can contribute to poor mood and attention, so this is a great chance to get some more in and have a delicious snack at the same time. Skip the chocolate chips for a no sugar-added option, or use a gluten-free flour for a celiac-friendly option. I make these without any flour for my mom who has celiac disease.

Sophie's Black Bean Brownies

Yield: 8 servings

2/3 cups soaked, pitted Medjool dates, finely chopped (about 25 dates)
1 15 oz. can of cooked black beans
2 large eggs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp all purpose flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp dark chocolate chips


  1. Soak the dates for 1-2 hours until soft, not mushy. Drain and chop finely.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Rinse and drain the black beans well.
  4. Put all ingredients in blender except for chocolate chips and blend until very smooth.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into an 9×9 pan that has been brushed with olive oil or lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Be careful not to overcook!
  8. Cool, cut into squares and enjoy!

Pro Tips:
These taste even BETTER after a night in the fridge. If you love chocolate or if you’re a nutty person, go ham with the add-ins! I’ve found walnuts and hazelnuts are both great. And don’t forget to soak the dates – it prevents the brownies from turning out dry and crumbly.


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