This isn’t just a healthy version of a your average black bean dip, which usually includes sour cream and dairy cheese. No, this dip is it’s very own thing. The flavors are much richer and more complex, and it’s not the least bit heavy. It has many ingredients found in traditional Mexican cuisine–such as black beans, chili powder, fire roasted tomatoes, and green chilies. But I have also added another ingredient that is bound to make your eyes go wide with delight when you first dig in. I’ll give you two hints:
1) It’s a very traditional ingredient in Mexican cooking (or from what is now Mexico), originating even before the Mayans.
2) It’s from another bean.
Cocoa powder! Yes, as in chocolate.
Cocoa powder comes from beans from the cacao tree. (Actually, the word cocoa is believed to have its origins in a spelling mistake of the word cacao, so technically we should all be saying “cacao powder.”) Cacao was first used for human enjoyment in Mexico, by a people called the Olmec, who lived prior to the Mayans’ rise to power. So it is very traditional, indeed. (I find the history of food absolutely fascinating! If you want to learn more about the history of chocolate, see here.)
I don’t use much cacao–just a teaspoon–but it adds so much to this dish. Whenever I test recipes, I usually make sure I leave some for Mr. Goldhouse to try so I can get his feedback. However, the first time I made this I didn’t leave him a drop because it was just so good. I totally devoured it. So several days later I made it again, but the exact same thing happened! I had no idea that I could be so overcome by desire for a dip, but I seem to find this one completely irresistible. Fortunately, it’s just pure, plant-based, whole food goodness without any added oil or salt, so aside from depriving Mr. Goldhouse, there was no reason to feel bad.
In fact, not only was there no reason to feel bad, there was every reason to feel good! Black beans are loaded with nutritional benefits. Here are just a few:
– Black beans are an excellent source of protein (just 1 cup has 15 grams), and it is far more healthful to get protein from plants rather than from animals. (See more info here.)
– Black beans are rich in soluble fiber which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. Lowered risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack risk have both been association with higher intake of soluble fiber, particularly beans.
-Black beans’ contain both protein and fiber, a combination which helps keep blood sugar levels steady.
-Black beans contain an enormous amount of antioxidants and phytochemicals, so it should be no surprise that several studies have linked black bean consumption to a lowered risk of many cancers.
-Black beans are an excellent source of folate which is crucial for pregnant women as folate deficiency can cause defects in a fetus’s brain and spinal cord.
-Black beans are a great source of iron.
This dip is great with carrots or tortilla chips, but it also makes for a delicious sauce on brown rice, quinoa, or even pasta.
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tablespoons green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
1. Slice the onions and garlic. Saute them in a tablespoon of water until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Stir for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the black beans. Cook for 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender and puree to desired consistency (I like it to be a just little bit chunky).