Breaking News

Gwinnett outlines phase-in plan for face-to-face classes starting end of this month


Healthy Cooking: Find the sweetness in everyday snacking

Treat yourself with guilt-free chocolate clusters. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES
Treat yourself with guilt-free chocolate clusters. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES

When my daughter was a newborn, she and I passed the midnight hours on the sofa, watching grainy reruns of a 30-year-old yoga and nutrition program on basic cable. The woodwind background music mellowed my cranky baby; the instructor’s reminders to breathe soothed me. The show’s signoff was a promise that viewers could eat chocolate every day, just not a lot. In that literal and figurative dark time, I couldn’t understand what “not a lot” looked like. Does a single Halloween-sized candy bar count as not a lot? What if I eat six of them?

Years later, I know the answer. Daily chocolate, but not a lot, is four pieces of chocolate-covered chickpea and raisin clusters. If you’re raising your eyebrows at chocolate-covered legumes, stay with me because I promise they are a crave-worthy confection. Roasted chickpeas are pleasantly mild tasting, crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. Add a veneer of chocolate goodness, and you get a crunchy, chewy, sweet treat that’s refreshingly low in carbs, cholesterol and calories.

Start by draining and rinsing a can of chickpeas. Blot them dry with a handful of paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Then roast them in a single layer on a baking sheet. There’s no need to drizzle the chickpeas with oil, which saves you fat and calories. However, preparing the pan with a brief blast of cooking spray keeps the chickpeas from sticking.

Then comes the fun part, choosing a chocolate. Chocolate is made from cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids, which reduce inflammation and cholesterol. The darker the chocolate, the higher the percentage of flavonoid-rich cacao. I suggest using semisweet chocolate chips, which contain more cacao/flavonoids than milk chocolate. If you’re a fan, you can use bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate for even more flavonoid goodness. Melt your preferred chocolate in the microwave for a few seconds at a time, stirring after every cooking interval.

Adding a dollop of coconut oil helps thin the melted chocolate, which makes it smoother and allows it to coat the chickpeas more evenly. But if you have a nut allergy or want to reduce the fat content even further, you can skip the coconut oil without affecting the flavor. Once you’ve tossed the chickpeas in the chocolate, drop them by spoonfuls on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens.

I love chocolate-covered chickpea clusters; however, my people requested something a little more sugary. I obliged by adding a handful of raisins along with the chickpeas. Raisins are naturally sweet, full of fiber, and contain no fat or cholesterol. And they are absolutely delicious when kissed by chocolate.

My daughter is now a teenager, which means my wakeful nights are for entirely different reasons. But she likes to cook this recipe with me, and we enjoy handfuls while watching movies on that same sofa. The leftovers keep for a week in the fridge, and are so filling I really can limit my portion to a single serving. And for chocolate-loving me, that’s saying a lot.

Chocolate Chickpea and Raisin Clusters

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Pat the chickpeas dry with paper towels.

Place the chickpeas in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until the chickpeas are golden. Remove from the oven and let the chickpeas and pan come to room temperature.

Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium (50%) 1 minute. Stir well. If the chips aren’t melted, microwave on medium in 15-second increments, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is smooth.

Add the roasted chickpeas and raisins to the chocolate. Stir with a fork until well coated. Line the baking sheet with a silicone sheet or parchment paper. Use a teaspoon to drop the chickpeas and raisins in clusters onto the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. The clusters will keep in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 1 week. Makes 20 servings.

Per 1/2 ounce serving: 79 calories (percent of calories from fat, 34), 1 gram protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 65 milligrams sodium.