Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Without the Guilt

It always happens around this time of year--I can't seem to get through the day without craving chocolate.  Of course, the craving isn't exclusive to the cooler weather--I love chocolate regardless of the season.  It's just that come November, I think of it every day.

To confess, I've been having it every day too.

Chocolate for the Deb of 2009 is a far cry from the chocolate of my past.  Oh, I've always preferred dark chocolate to milk.  Don't even talk to me about white "chocolate."  Dark is what it's been for me ever since I was a wee one.  But in the old days, I didn't know what real dark chocolate tasted like.  Little did I know how deprived I was.

There's the Callebaut, Scharffen Berger, and Valrhona chocolates; arguably some of the world's best.  But I want to be socially conscious, environmentally responsible, and nutritionally pure, so there are others I prefer:  Theo Chocolate is one as is Terra Nostra, both organic and fair trade and undeniably delicious to boot.  More affordable, Green and Black's chocolate is organic as well and their Maya Gold label is certified fair trade.  Also less expensive, but not necessarily compromised is Dagoba, which is organic and has many products certified fair trade.   

None of them are cheap.  But I'm kinda glad about that.  It makes me savor them longer and eat less.  Sort of like Charlie Bucket when he gets his annual chocolate bar.  Good chocolate deserves to be appreciated.  Every single bite.  And when I do this, it's truly guilt-free.  In fact, it's so pleasurable, that it's good for me--my body happily receives the wonderful beneficial flavonoids that act as antioxidants fighting off the free radicals that run rampant in our bodies and can cause disease if we don't maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.  On the flip side, when eating not so healthy chocolate (that chocolate birthday cake that I just had to have--after all, it was MY birthday), I often think not so good thoughts, making it doubly unhealthy.

My latest kick in guilt-free chocolate is this recipe I found on the Whole Foods Market website:  Flourless Black Bean Brownies.  Chocolate and beans!  How can you get much healthier than that while still getting your sweet tooth fix?  I've adjusted the recipe so as to not include as much refined sugar (or none if you go with the grain-sweetened chocolate chips).  Hope you find them as delicious as I do (and my family agrees!).

Flourless Black Bean Brownies

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
3 large eggs
1/3 cup melted butter, more for the baking dish
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
1/2 cup date or palm sugar
3 tablespoons dark agave nectar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or grain sweetened)
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Place the black beans, eggs, melted butter, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, sugar and agave in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Remove the blade and carefully stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 35 to 40 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares. The consistency is dense and fudge-like, unlike traditional brownies, but wonderfully delicious.

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