Shockingly good, even with beetroot juice

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Food for Thought for Friday 15th February 2013

It’s amazing how excited people get when they catch me with some kind of treat. It’s probably like catching a policeman speeding, but a lot more fun. I think it’s because it grants instant permission to do the same if the nutritionist is doing it, it must be okay! Of course you have to remember that as I have two small children, I do spend a lot of time trying to make healthy food look just as fun as some of the junk out there. My girls were beyond excited about the little chocolate cupcakes we made this week with bright pink icing. And that’s despite having helped me make them themselves. I wanted to know if adding chickpeas to the batter and beetroot juice to the icing would put them off. Apparently not!

So this has become one of my favourite recipes of all time. Partly because it’s simple enough to have the children do it with me, partly because they still love it despite all the sneaky veg, and partly because they taste … well, amazing. In fact, several people tested these for me recently and the verdict was “shockingly good”.

This recipe makes tiny “brownie bite” type cupcakes. They are dense, squidgy, chocolatey and delicious. They are also gluten-, dairy- and nut-free, which is something of a miracle. The flour is completely replaced by the chick peas, which adds a ton of fibre and protein to the mix. This helps to offset what would otherwise be an unadulterated sugar-fest.

You can have these as they are, or with a little frosting. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day this week, I made our icing bright pink. I haven’t had much luck with the natural food dyes out there, but after grating beetroot last week and dying my hands pink, I thought it would be worth a try. It turns out that squeezing freshly-grated raw beetroot into icing gives an amazingly vibrant colour that lasts for days, without affecting taste whatsoever. Give it a try!

Note, when making these, I used regular mini-cupcake pans/liners and some silicone liners. The silicone liners turned out the cakes perfectly, the paper liners were okay but best when cooled.

Brownie bite cupcakes (makes approximately 36 mini-cupcakes)

Ingredients (cakes): 1 ½ c dairy-free chocolate chips (I used the Ghirardelli mini choc chips in a silver bag but Miles have some GREAT organic ones occasionally.); 2 c chick peas (garbanzos) well drained and rinsed (it’s approximately 1 19oz can or 1½ 14oz cans). I used Eden Organic; 4 eggs; ¾ c sucanet or brown sugar; ½ tsp baking powder.

Ingredients (frosting): This makes enough to ice approximately half your cakes (we kept some of ours as plain brownie bites); 3 tbs Earth Balance vegan margarine, melted; 1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted; 1 small beetroot, peeled and grated; water.

Method: Preheat oven to 355F and line mini-cupcake pans with liners (makes approximately 36) or place silicone shapes on a baking sheet. Or both! Spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Make sure your chickpeas are well drained/rinsed. Pop them in a food processor with the eggs. Whizz to a smooth solution and transfer to a large bowl. Melt the chocolate chips in a pan over a low heat. Be patient! Stir occasionally til you have smooth melted chocolate. Pop to one side. Stir the sucanet and baking powder into the egg mixture. Then slowly stir in the melted chocolate, gently. Spoon into the cups/moulds. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until firm but bouncy to the touch. (I think I actually baked mine for 22 minutes.) While the cakes are baking, make the icing. Stir the icing sugar into the melted margarine. Then add just enough water to make a thick icing. Go slowly. If you add too much water you can always add more icing sugar. Then get a handful of the grated beetroot and squeeze it over the bowl. You don’t need much to make it pink, but add enough to get the intensity you want! Again if you make it too runny by accident, just add more icing sugar.

When they cakes are done, remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details, visit or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook:

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Published Feb 15, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm)

Shockingly good, even with beetroot juice

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