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Flourless Black Bean Chocolate Chili Muffins

Posted Jan 22 2014 4:10pm

Are you clenched? 
I was reading the most fascinating article in the car last night while I was waiting for my son to finish up practice.  It was written by a cancer survivor who described her success in relaxing her body and mind through the simple exercise of 'unclenching' her face.   
One of the first areas of the body we tighten unwittingly under stress is our jaw and this form of compression has a ripple effect throughout the body often giving rise to blockages and pain.
So right in front of her oncologist and chemotherapy nurses, this patient would engage in a deliberate act of unclenching her jaw before each treatment, a technique she learned in her yoga practice.  She describes it simply as "dropping the lower jaw away from the upper jaw and letting it hang with an open mouth" (she parallels the look to those "heavy metal mouth-breathing dudes from high school" which I not only found hilarious but also a helpful visual).
But it's what she describes next that I found most interesting.
The act of relaxing her face not only had a marked effect on her body (there was a measurable decrease in her heart rate each time) it also softened her grasping mind and helped calm her fears and anxieties around her illness.  She describes an openness of the psyche that improved the energy in the treatment room and lead to an emotional unclenching that was integral to her success during each and every treatment.  It allowed her to better deal with what was on hand and even reflect more calmly on things to come. 
Belly breathing, visualization, meditation, music and movement are all common ways of eliciting a relaxation response in the body in preparation for the more difficult work of calming the mind. Trying different techniques can help identify the ones that are best suited to our sensibilities. 
I share this one as a possible new experience which the author describes as one of the simplest and profoundly effective techniques we can practice. 
Well I haven't been this excited about the outcome of a baking experiment since I made these  Flourless Peanut Butter and Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
These muffins are soft, moist and surprisingly sprightly despite their lack of flour (love that). They have a nice rise, delightful taste and are also powerfully nutritious.  The banana and nut butter flavours are muted amidst the more dominant chocolate chili taste.  For good or for bad, the black beans are imperceptible in taste (in my view anyway).  They add colour, bulk, density and character to the mix -- as well as a host of nutrients. 
Be sure to check out the Nutrition and Cooking Notes for more information and best results!

Flourless Black Bean Chocolate-Chili Muffins (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)
  • 1 generous cup (250 mL) of happy and healthy cooked black beans (thoroughly rinsed if using canned)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) all natural almond butter
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) quality cocoa powder 
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) chili powder of choice (see notes)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 mL) honey
  • 1 egg, gently beaten
  • hot chili flakes, optional

Makes 24 mini muffins

Nutrition & Cooking Notes:
  1. Nutrition Content: A snack sized portion of these mini muffins (3 muffins) provides close to 12 grams of protein (equivalent to 2 eggs), 7 grams of fiber as well as 20% daily iron requirement (other notable nutrients: calcium, potassium, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin E and monounsaturated fats).  That's a lot of goodness stored in 250 calories.
  2. The Chili Factor - There are many different kinds of chile/chili you can consider for this recipe and it really just depends on the type of flavour impact you are looking for.  Ground chile peppers such as cayenne and habanero are amongst the hottest varieties so you will want to use these chile powders carefully and sparingly (particularly initially) - I use small pinches (1/8 or 1/4 tsp) of these powders on occasion in cooking.  Ancho chile is beautifully complex and warm (but not as hot as cayenne/habanero).  Paprika and chipotle (smoke-dried jalapeno) are other favourites.  The more generic 'chili powder' that you find in the supermarket is really a mixture of milder chile peppers with the addition of herbs/spices such as onion/garlic powder and salt. Chili powder of this kind would be suitable for this recipe but you could also add a pinch of ancho or chipotle in addition to it just to give it a bit more robustness.  It's really just a matter of personal taste.  My friend MJ has put together some great information on  types of chile powders  which you may find very useful. I am constantly referring to it -- thank you MJ!
  3. The Sugar Content - I find the sweetness of these bites strikes just the right note for my taste but if you are accustomed to more sugar, you can start with 1/3 cup of honey and work your way down.  Another thought is to keep 1/4 honey and add a dollop of ganache to the tops of the muffins -- adding just a drop of sweetness to the top of food (rather than the whole way through) goes a long way to contributing to taste without overwhelming with sugar. I used a simple combination of dark chocolate and cream (sub coconut milk for dairy free) in the picture below (2 ounces coconut milk or 10% cream, 2.5 ounces 75% dark chocolate pieces) but you could also add a tablespoon of honey or pure maple syrup to this combination. Because the muffins are so small, you will literally only need a teaspoon of ganache to make a taste impression.

Heat oven to 325 F.
  1. In a food processor, blender (or with a hand mixer ♥), blend: black beans, almond butter and banana until the beans are well broken down and combined with the other ingredients.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine: cocoa, chili powder and baking powder.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and blend/pulse a few times before adding: vanilla, honey and egg, blending once again until well combined. The batter will be relatively fluid.
  3. Pour the batter by tablespoon full into silicone lined (or gently greased) miniature muffin cups filling until just before the limit.
  4. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a few hot chili flakes if desired (I sprinkled a few on the cooked muffins for fun).
  5. Place muffin tray in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until muffins have risen and firmed somewhat (the tops will also crack - a bit like banana bread - but they are beautiful this way). 
  6. Allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tray and enjoying. (If you remove them too quickly, they will fall apart).
  7. These muffins store beautifully in a covered container in the fridge.  We did not have leftovers to try the experiment, but I suspect that they would freeze equally well.

© Inspired Edibles

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no visible beans in here

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