If you have a hankering for something homemade and sweet, but you want to keep your baked good on the nutritious side, we have the perfect solution for you: Chuck in some chickpeas.
"Beans and pulses, especially chickpeas, are the most underrated superfoods in the supermarket," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table.
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"They're like the chameleons of the table because they can fit into several food groups at once: They're rich in complex carbs like breads and starches; they feel right at home in the vegetable group by offering an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; and they can also hold their own in the protein group," Taub-Dix says.
Plus, chickpeas are low-fat and cholesterol-free. "In fact, beans and pulses have been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels owing to their soluble fiber," she says. And not to forget: Fiber is key to gut health as it helps you stay regular and supports your microbiome.
That means you'll get all these health perks when you incorporate pulses into pastries and cookies. And don't fret if you're not a fan of the flavor — these lovely legumes blend seamlessly into recipes, so you'll never detect a hint of beans in your baked goodies.
1. Small Batch Air Fryer Brownies
- 225.3 calories
- 4.8 grams of fiber
Every chocolate lover will live for these legume-based brownies. Adding aquafaba (the leftover liquid in the chickpea can that you typically drain out) to the brownie mix makes these scrumptious squares moister, gooier and, of course, more nutrient-dense.
"I love my air fryer, and what makes this recipe particularly unique is that most of us don't think about baking in it," Taub-Dix says. But the convenience of cooking in your air fryer isn't the only bonus of these fudgy brownies, which boast almost 5 grams of fiber per serving. "Since fiber is a nutrient most of us don't get enough of, it's a valuable contribution," Taub-Dix says.
And because you can only bake smaller brownie batches in your air fryer, portion control is basically built in.
Get the Small Batch Brownies recipe and nutrition info at Veggies Save The Day.
2. Vegan Chickpea Gingerbread Buckeyes
- 139 calories
- 2 grams of fiber
What do you get when you cross a fudgy buckeye candy with a crunchy gingerbread cookie? These mouthwatering mini bites bursting with warm flavors like cinnamon and ground ginger.
You'd never know the secret to these better-for-you buckeyes is beans. With these bite-sized balls of bliss, "you'll get good sources of plant protein and fiber thanks to chickpeas (and nut butter)," Taub-Dix says. But all you'll taste is a heap of heavenly confection.
Get the Vegan Chickpea Gingerbread Buckeyes recipe and nutrition info at Dishing Out Health.
3. Chickpea Flour Banana Bread With Dark Chocolate and Walnuts
- 217 calories
- 4 grams of fiber
One bite of this beyond-moist banana bread will send your senses into a frenzy. Every mouthful delivers melty chocolate chips and crunchy walnuts.
Not only delicious, but this homemade banana bread is also hearty and healthy enough for breakfast. "The protein and fiber in this recipe [thanks to chickpea flour] make it a dessert that'll keep you feeling full and satisfied," Taub-Dix says.
Plus, using chickpea flour is also a great option for gluten-free folks.
To slash some saturated fat, swap out the coconut oil for avocado oil or light olive oil, Taub-Dix says. "If you'd miss that coconut taste (even though coconut sugar is being used), you can add a light sprinkle of coconut flakes on top," she adds.
Get the Chickpea Flour Banana Bread With Dark Chocolate and Walnuts recipe and nutrition info at Dishing Out Health.
4. Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpea Trail Mix
- 155 calories
- 6 grams of fiber
Chickpeas are the star of this tasty trail mix that touts only a handful of whole foods like coconut flakes, almond slices and chocolate chips.
"Roasted chickpeas are a go-to in my house," Taub-Dix says. "The beauty of them is that they have a crunchy texture, and you can enjoy them sweet or savory."
With a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice combined with crunchy nuts and pulses, this twist on trail mix will satisfy all your sweet and salty cravings. And because you can control the ingredients, you can reduce the added sugar and sodium often found in store-bought trail mix varieties.
Get the Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpea Trail Mix recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
5. Healthy Vanilla Cake Balls
- 99 calories
- 1 gram of fiber
These little bites of heaven have everything you love about vanilla cake (think: that oh-so-light-and-fluffy texture) except they're baked with hearty ingredients such as chickpeas, protein powder and cashew butter.
To keep saturated fat to a minimum, sub in avocado oil for coconut butter, Taub-Dix says. And if you want to pump up the protein and fiber content (while slashing sugar), you can even roll these yummy morsels in chopped nuts instead of sprinkles, Taub-Dix adds.
Get the Healthy Vanilla Cake Balls recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
- 111 calories
- 3 grams of fiber
Craving cookie dough? This healthier twist on traditional cookie dough will satisfy your sweet tooth.
While run-of-the-mill cookie dough is loaded with sugar and raw eggs, these deliciously doughy nibbles have a base of nutritious nut butter, chickpeas and protein powder. Compared to one serving of Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Refrigerated Cookie Dough, these sweet treats offer five times the protein, triple the fiber and almost half the sugar without sacrificing the flavor.
Make a big batch and store these plant-powered goodies in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month.
Get the Healthy Cookie Dough Bites recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
7. Sweet Potato Pie Dessert Hummus
- 120 calories
- 3 grams of fiber
Sweet potato pie meets homemade hummus? OK, hear us out.
This decadent dessert hummus will have you dipping just about anything (though we recommend apples and cinnamon pita chips) to savor the fantastic flavor. With natural sweetness from caramelized baked sweet potatoes and a drizzle of maple syrup, you can lick the bowl clean without worrying about added sugars.
To cut down on cooking time, steam the potato in the microwave for 5 minutes.
Get the Sweet Potato Pie Dessert Hummus recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
8. Vegan Chocolate Mousse
- 243 calories
- 5 grams of fiber
A chocolate mousse without the heavy whipping cream? You'll never miss the milk in this velvety vegan mousse that gets its rich flavor from cacao-based dark chocolate.
This dairy-free, decadent dessert delivers a surprising amount of fiber (5 grams) per serving, Taub-Dix says. The font of fiber comes from aquafaba. Not only does aquafaba offer oodles of nutrients, but using it in your baking also helps to discourage food waste, Taub-Dix says. Win-win.
Get the Vegan Chocolate Mousse recipe and nutrition info here.
9. PB&J Chickpea Smoothie
- 241 calories
- 7 grams of fiber
Prefer to drink your dessert? This salivating smoothie recipe only requires four simple ingredients: Chickpeas, 100 percent grape juice, peanut butter and flax seeds. So rest assured when you slurp down this satisfying shake — which tastes like PB&J in a glass — you're getting a bounty of beneficial nutrients, such as gut-friendly fiber and healthy fats.
Plus, its pretty purple color — which it gets from the grapes — makes it so fun to sip.
Get the PB&J Chickpea Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
- 265 calories
- 3 grams of fiber
A delicious dessert roundup would not be complete without fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. This recipe incorporates the prolific pulses in two ways: by using garbanzo bean flour and roasted chickpeas. Translation: These sweet treats dish up a double dose of fiber and protein.
Taub-Dix also likes the recipe's use of grape seed oil and nut butter, which keeps saturated fat to a minimum.
Get the Pulse Chocolate-Chip Cookies recipe and nutrition info here.