Beans in chocolate cake? You betcha!

Cookbook offers creative ways to reduce carbs.

The typical American diet is heavily laden with white carbs, and many of us are looking for ways to replace some of those highly-processed carbs with better choices. Complex carbs, like beans, are full of fiber and take the body longer to break down, and therefore help prevent blood sugar spikes.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to make healthier meals. Here are three different recipes that use beans in creative ways and the results are delicious!

CHOCOLATE, BLACK BEAN AND CHERRY CAKE (P. 164)

14-ounce can of black beans, rinsed

3 eggs

½ cup superfine sugar

1 shot (1 ounce) of espresso or tablespoon strong filter coffee (you can use decaf if you prefer)

3 tablespoons unsweetened coca

1 teaspoon baking powder (check it is gluten-free if cooking for a celiac crowd)

Scant 1 cup cherries, pitted (can be frozen, and you can also substitute other berries), plus extra to serve

Confectioners’ sugar, yogurt, creme fraiche or fresh cherries, to serve (optional)

Equipment:

8-by-5-inch loaf pan, greased and lined with parchment

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a stick blender and mixing bowl, blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the cherries and blitz until smooth. The batter will appear quite liquidy but don’t worry. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and scatter the cherries over the top.

Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few fudgy crumbs on it.

Let cool in the pan for 4 minutes, then turn it out. Dust with confections’ sugar and serve warm with more cherries, yogurt or creme fraiche for dessert, or let it cool and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee.

Our assessment: Your family or guests would never guess in a million years that this cake contains black beans. It makes a delicious, fairly dense cake. Mine wasn’t done after 35 minutes, so I baked it another 5 minutes and it turned out great. It tastes delicious with a few fresh cherries, a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of creme fraiche, which you can find in the dairy or deli section of most grocery stores.

Pitting cherries can be tricky business, but years ago former food and dining reporter Ann Heller shared a tip with me — she said she used a large paperclip to extract the pits. I immediately adopted her method and if the cherries are very ripe and I hustle, I can pit 9-10 cherries per minute using the paperclip method.

RASPBERRY, WHITE BEAN AND ROSE CAKE (P. 164)

14-ounce can of cannelloni beans, rinsed

3 eggs

½ cup superfine sugar

1 tablespoon rose water

3 tablespoons ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder (check to be sure it is gluten free if cooking for a celiac crowd)

1 cup raspberries (can be frozen, and you can also substitute other berries, or pitted cherries), plus extra to serve

confectioners’ sugar, yogurt or creme fraiche, to serve (optional)

Equipment:

8-by-5-inch loaf pan, greased and lined with parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a stick blender and mixing bowl, blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the raspberries and blitz until smooth. The batter will appear quite liquidy but don’t worry. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and scatter the raspberries over the top.

Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few fudgy crumbs on it.

Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm with more raspberries, yogurt or creme fraiche for dessert, or let it cool and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee.

Our assessment: OMG! This cake is oh-so heavenly and there’s no indication it was made with a can of cannelloni beans. Plus, if you’ve never tried rose water as an ingredient, this is your chance. It’s water flavored by steeping in rose petals and used as a common ingredient in Middle Eastern, Indian and other Asian cuisine. You’ll find it in the international aisle at Meijer grocery stories and some other chains. Rose water is inexpensive and a little goes a long way.

PEPPERS STUFFED WITH CHIA, HUMMUS AND PINE NUTS (P. 98)

7 ounces hummus

¼ cup chia seeds

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

1 red bell pepper, cut in half through the stem and seeded

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

To serve:

Bitter greens and chili sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, mix together the hummus, chia seeds, lemon juice and spices.

Portion the mixture into the cavities of the peppers. Top with the pine nuts and drizzle with the olive oil.

Put the peppers on a baking sheet and bake them in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until they have puckered around the edges and the pine nuts have lightly bronzed.

Serve the stuffed peppers on a bed of bitter greens, with chili sauce on the side.

Our assessment: This vegan alternative to stuffed peppers is tasty and filling, thanks to the hummus, which is made with garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas). I served the stuffed peppers on a bed of lettuce leaves with slices of lemon. What I love about this recipe is that the hummus mixture is a snap to make. If you have any leftover, it’s great as a dip for chips — much better than regular hummus!

Also, you’ll want the pepper halves to sit fairly flat rather than rolling around on the baking sheet. I’ve learned to carefully trim off the rounded bottom before stuffing. If you cut too deeply and create a hole, just use the small piece you trimmed off as a plug inside the bottom of the pepper cavity before filling it with mixture.

From the book: “Cut the Carbs! 100 Recipes to Help You Ditch White Carbs and Feel Great” by Tori Haschka; 176 pages, $24.95. Published by Countryman, 2015.

What you get: To enhance health and shed extra pounds, this collection of recipes offers creative alternatives to some of the carb-heavy dishes we all love. After loving the recipes for stuffed peppers, and chocolate and raspberry cakes, we now want to try Quinoa and Zucchini Fritter with Strained Yogurt (Page 40), Savory Baked Apples with Goat Curd and Proscuitto (P. 70), Kale Caesar (p. 84) and Thyme-roasted Chicken Legs with Braised Baby Lettuce and Peas (P. 134).

In her own words: “What you’ll find is not really a diet at all. It’s just a new way of looking at what you eat. There are some new ingredients to fall in love with and some makeovers for old friends.” — Tori Haschka

Send us your ideas: Do you have any tips or recipes for limiting refined carbohydrates? Email connie.post@coxinc.com

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