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Beans-For Dessert? A GFree Food that’s both versatile and good for you!

If you’re on a gluten-free diet, cake is most likely not on the top of your dessert list given the flour content. But you’d be surprised at what you can make into cake! When I was given this recipe for garbanzo bean chocolate cake and my first thought was “That’s just WEIRD”. It’s one of the oddest combinations of ingredients I have ever seen.

But then I realized that beans are very versatile and extremely healthy. You can add them to soup, salad, casserole or dips. They make a great side dish in place of pasta if you can’t have wheat. Nutritionally, they’re a powerhouse of complex carbohydrate, fiber, folate, potassium and protein.

Beans are especially great for those following a gluten-free diet. Many grains consumed by individuals on a gluten-free diet (such as corn flakes, rice cereal or pasta, etc.) tend to be lower in fiber, which can hinder bowel regularity. Beans of all kinds provide at least 5 grams or more of dietary fiber per half cup. Beans are also an excellent source of soluble fiber, the type that lowers cholesterol and manages blood sugar. Oats, which are a great source of soluble fiber, are often eliminated in a gluten-free diet because of the risk for cross-contamination with wheat.

For this recipe, canned beans work better as they are already pre-cooked and therefore softer and easer to blend. If you’re concerned with sodium content, don’t be. The beans need to be drained and rinsed prior to use, which reduces the sodium by about 30%. A serving of cake provides a mere 35 mg of sodium.

The beauty of this sneaky cake recipe is that it’s flourless (gluten-free) and provides a hefty load of fiber and protein. In addition, it’s very high in antioxidants compliments of dark chocolate. For chocolate, the higher the cacao percent chocolate of the chips, the higher the antioxidant content will be. Another plus? Only 5 ingredients. I love that! Most importantly, it’s delicious! Serve it at your next party and watch the surprised looks on your guests’ faces when you tell them the ingredients.

1 (14 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz.)
4 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch baking pan.
2. Drain & rinse to beans and pour into a food processor. Add all 4 eggs and blend for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is smooth.
3. Melt the bag of chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, spinning the bowl and repeating for 30 seconds until the chocolate is melted.
4. Add the sugar and baking soda to the bean mixture, and then add the chocolate. Blend the mixture together & scrape the sides of the bowl until the mixture is consistent.
5. Pour the cake batter in the pan and bake for ~30 minutes until the center is done.
6. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Makes ~16 small servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 215 calories, 7.3 grams fat (3.8 grams saturated), 30 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams protein, 5 grams fiber, 45 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium.

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews MEd, RD, LD has been a clinical dietitian at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati since 1990 and is the owner of Sound Bites Nutrition, LLC. She holds a Bachelors and Masters in Nutrition and has been quoted locally and nationally. She enjoys cooking, reading, walking, traveling and teaching her daughters how healthy food can still taste good.
For more information, and to contact Lisa directly, please visit her website: