The Gluten-Free Ingredient That Gives Brownies A Huge Fiber Boost

Few things are more comforting than eating brownies, the classic dessert that has stolen the hearts of chocolate lovers worldwide. With their rich flavor, they melt in your mouth and bring back childhood memories. Whether you like them fudgy or cakey, with nuts or without, there's no denying that a good brownie can make life sweeter.

This chocolaty treat comes in endless varieties, and some are healthier than others. Depending on the recipe, one serving has around 410 calories, 6 grams of protein, 25 grams of fat, and 50 grams of carbs, including 5 grams of fiber. Flourless brownies will likely be lower in carbs, especially if you cut out the sugar. Vegans can use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate and swap the eggs for ground flaxseed.

Like with most things, it's the little details that make the difference. For example, you can give your brownies a fiber boost with one simple ingredient. The best part is, they'll taste amazing and fill you up quickly. 

Take your brownies to the next level with this basic ingredient

Brownies are usually made with plain flour, butter, eggs, chocolate, and sugar. None of these ingredients is rich in fiber, though. Your body needs fiber to digest food, regulate blood sugar, and send satiety signals to the brain. This nutrient also protects against colorectal cancer, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic ailments. A balanced diet should provide around 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day, but most U.S. adults consume only 10 to 15 grams a day, according to the Harvard Medical School.

One way to boost your fiber intake is to incorporate legumes into your meals. For example, black beans provide a whopping 15 grams of fiber per cup, plus large amounts of protein, iron, potassium, copper, and other key nutrients. These legumes have a fairly neutral flavor, so you can use them in a multitude of recipes. Sarah Bond, a nutritionist and recipe developer, suggests adding black beans to brownies for a fiber boost. Her recipe also calls for eggs, sugar, oil, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and other gluten-free ingredients.

Start with a can of black beans. Rinse them and drain the excess water, blend them in a food processor, and then use them in your recipe. This simple ingredient gives brownies a dense, fudgy texture without overpowering the chocolate flavor. Plus, it's a healthier alternative to flour and fits into most diets.

Try these ingredient swaps for healthier brownies

Black beans can add a new twist to brownies, but they're not your only option. You can also use oats, coconut flour, walnuts, almonds, or chia seeds for extra fiber. A single ounce of chia seeds boasts 10 grams of fiber and can be one of the best egg substitutes for baked goods. The same goes for ground flaxseed, applesauce, mashed bananas, and silken tofu. Any of these ingredients can replace eggs and give your brownies a nutritional punch.

Ideally, it's best to use dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. "It's a brilliant substitute when you want something sweet and satiating, without the empty calories or sugar hit," nutritionist Angelique Panagos told Women's Health. Moreover, this treat is loaded with flavanols and other antioxidants that support heart health and combat the effects of free radicals. Another option is to use unsweetened cocoa powder, which has pretty much the same benefits as dark chocolate.

Go one step further and replace sugar with raw honey or stevia. For example, these sugar-free sea salt caramel brownies are made with liquid stevia, black beans, real butter, almond flour, and other good-for-you ingredients. If you're looking for the perfect post-workout treat, add chocolate protein powder into the mix.