Earlier this week I referred to a Scientific American article that talks about how dark chocolate increases arterial flow. But what really fascinated me about this article was how microbes in your colon convert both the antioxidants and the fiber in cocoa to improve insulin sensitivity as well as providing a cardiovascular boost.
To get the maximum benefit, one of the scientists who led a study involving a lab recreation of a human digestive system said he now sprinkles cocoa on his oatmeal to make sure he’s giving his microbes plenty of fiber along with each dose of chocolate.
That reminded me of a recipe from my early Weight Watchers days that called for adding a 15-ounce can of pureed black beans and 1/3 cup water to a brownie mix. (Don’t use any other ingredients, despite what it says on the box.) The bean puree increases the fiber and lowers the points value without distorting the taste. (I made a batch for my kids and they never knew about the “secret ingredient.”)
I can’t remember which brand of brownie mix I used, but the nutrition information for the doctored batch was 111 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of fiber and 2.5 grams of protein for 1/20th of the pan.
Another time I experimented with leaving the beans whole to see if I could fool my brain into thinking the “chunks” were just part of the chocolate experience.
Here’s how that turned out, based on this post from May 2011:
“Answer: Yes. Baked up in a pan, the beans lose their distinctive shape and adopt the stronger chocolate flavor that envelopes them. It’s not like biting into these chunks gives you a turbo-charged chocolate blood-sugar boost. But isn’t that we’re trying to avoid, as members of an over-the-top society learning to wean ourselves from a massive sugar addiction?
“To my brain (and I can’t help but notice how often I talk about my brain as if it were a child playing in another room, but that’s another story), these are chunky brownies. Chunky brownies make my brain happy. Hey, it works for me.”