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Black bean brownies among the fare at Trocaire farm-to-food dinner

Chocolate and black beans in the same dish?

That’s what about 20 people were served three weeks ago during a Friday night dinner party in the demonstration kitchen at the Trocaire College Russell J. Salvatore School of Hospitality on Transit Road in Lancaster.

For dessert.

Black bean brownies, served sundae style, were among the foods that Nicole Klem, director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at Trocaire, arranged to have served during a program she called, “Healthy Farm. Healthy Table. Healthy People.”

Klem – featured earlier this year in an In the Field story in WNY Refresh – is on a mission to get more Western New Yorkers thinking about locally sourced food.

She landed her job last fall, and has big plans to share her love of regional produce, meats and other staples with a larger audience, but started small with the mostly local farm-to-food dinner.

“Most foods in season generally complement each other,” said Klem, who gave a brief overview of her department before turning over the program to students Elise Davis and Arthur Nowak, as well as “Healthy Chef” Jim Rebholz, Arden Farms owner Dan Roelofs and Randolph Academy Food Service Careers Instructor Matthew Just.

Rebholz talked up the Western New York Higher Education Health and Wellness Consortium and said 250 students from seven colleges in the region graduated from related fields this month.

“This field is more than just a big moneymaker for people in San Francisco,” he said.

Roelofs, who farms outside East Aurora, brought a variety of produce to the dinner, including stinging nettles, which Just blended with oil and garlic and folded into risotto. “It’s so neat to cook something you find in the yard,” the school chef said.

Also included in the courses were Vietnamese spring rolls, fresh herb-rubbed shredded local beef sliders, and a “simple salad” topped with a dressing made from orange juice, lemon juice, pitted dates, garlic, chipotle in adobo sauce, fresh cilantro and olive oil.

Klem’s students served a black bean brownie sundae for dessert. Maple syrup was used instead of sugar, cutting calories by one-third, and chia seeds, packed with healthy omega-3s, helped thicken the mix.

“It’s not to say the brownies are calorie-free,” but they’re healthier, and supply some protein, said nutritionist Erin Burch, who was among the diners. If you cut out pop, chips, dips and processed foods, she said, the dinner showed “you can eat healthy and well on a budget.”

Klem plans a similar dinner in the fall at Trocaire.

Meanwhile, read the chocolate black bean brownie sundae recipe below.


Chocolate black bean brownie sundae


  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and dried
  • 3 medium eggs
  • ½ cup maple sugar (preferably real and local)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil at room temperature
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (natural unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup semisweet dark chocolate chips


Blend the beans, oil and chips in a blender or food processor. Add the other ingredients and process until smooth. Pour into a 9-inch baking pan even out. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes and let cool. Add yogurt or ice cream to the bottom of a martini glass, place the brownie on top and drizzle the glass with chocolate syrup. Garnish with a fresh strawberry.


About 12

Nutrition facts (per serving)

Calories: 140; calories from fat, 60; total fat, 6g (9% daily value); saturated fat, 4.5 g (23%); trans fat, 0; cholesterol, 0; sodium, 25 mg (1%); total carbohydrates 18g (6%); fiber 4g (%16); sugars, 10g; protein, 3g


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