A delicious dessert that can double as a snack… protein, fiber and phytonutrients! Oh, my!
Scary fact: The #1 source of calories in the American diet is desserts! Yikes! When I learned that statistic, and think about the heavily processed, empty calorie dessert foods most people are eating, my challenge became clear! I wanted to come up with a dessert recipe that was SO good for you, that you could enjoy it on a regular basis. Since I have dedicated my 2013 columns to highlighting the core foods that optimize health, it is time to revisit one of my favorites… beans! I know what you are thinking, beans and dessert, how is that possible?! How about making a dessert hummus that tastes like brownie batter?! I am always on the lookout for sweet and satisfying recipes that I can serve with fresh fruit, bring to potlucks, use when friends come over and, of course, stick in the freezer. After working on the recipe to get the ingredients just right, all that I can say is, “Yum! Yum!”
I maximized the nutrition and antioxidant power of this recipe by using very specific whole foods. Colorful beans (dark kidney beans or local Hidatsu Red beans) impart a slightly sweet flavor along with health-promoting fiber, plant protein, important vitamins and minerals and a huge phytonutrient boost. Dates provide most of the sweetness because of their phenomenal antioxidant contribution. Maple syrup contributes moisture and sweetness, without being processed. To impart a wonderful chocolaty flavor, I used unsweetened cocoa powder, as it is considered one of the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet. Almonds provides protein, vitamins, minerals, healthful fats, and phytonutrients that can reduce inflammation in the body. I chose roasted almond butter, as dry roasting has been shown to increase mineral absorption. Sweet potatoes add to the creamy texture and contribute an impressive line-up of nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene. Cinnamon has been shown to exhibit several health benefits including positively impacting blood glucose levels. I know that you may be skeptical, but these diverse ingredients come together to create a deliciously satisfying sweet treat that could become a new staple in your house.
TNP’s Chocolate Brownie Hummus
1 ¼ cup cooked dark kidney beans (or Hidatsu Red beans)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder)
5 dates (pits removed), soaked and coarsely chopped (reserve soaking liquid)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp roasted almond butter (or any single ingredient nut butter)
1/3 cup cooked sweet potato
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP vanilla
Dash of salt
Soak pitted and chopped dates in 3-4 TBSP of warm water for 10 minutes (or more). Drain and reserve liquid. In a food processor, combine the dates with the rest of the ingredients and process until very smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. You can serve it as a spread or make a thinner dip by adding some of the date soaking liquid to the food processor, about a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
The dipping and spreading possibilities are virtually endless! In fact, my kids have been gobbling up the results of my recipe testing efforts as an after school snack with slices of fresh apple and banana. They also enjoyed it on whole grain toast strips, whole grain pretzels and graham crackers. It tastes great with crispy apple chips and will be excellent during strawberry season!
Celebrate National Nutrition Month with this sweet treat that is nutrient dense and supports your health! It tastes good and is good for you, so you don’t have to reserve it for special occasions!
Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, does corporate wellness work, as well as professional speaking engagements and teaches hands-on cooking/nutrition classes.
Read my article as published in the Lodi News Sentinel.