I don’t wait around for Valentine’s Day to sink my teeth into a chocolate treat. Chocolate is one of my favorite indulgences. I’ll nibble on a chocolate treat almost nightly.
Lucky for me, this habit is supporting my good health. Scientific studies have associated eating flavonoid rich dark chocolate with lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents present in plant foods. Blueberries, strawberries and citrus are other sweet treats that have high flavonoid content.
Researchers recommend eating dark chocolate, with a 70% or higher cocoa content. By choosing dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, I consume less added sugar and fat, and the highest percentage of flavonoids. How sweet is that! A healthy indulgent delight! A one-ounce serving is all I need to satisfy my chocolate craving. I’ll pair that with an ounce of nuts or dried cherries for a delectable treat.
We stock up on dark chocolate bars. Because of all the health benefits, dark chocolate is a staple product in our home. We rely on Trader Joes for their imported Belgian and Swiss dark chocolate bars. They offer a great variety at low prices and some bars go as high as 85% cacao content.
In our cupboard you’ll also find a container of unsweetened, non-alkaline cocoa powder. We prefer non-alkaline cocoa because it is minimally processed thus retaining more flavonoids. When cocoa is processed with alkali, also known as Dutch processing, the flavonoids' health benefits are substantially reduced. We use the cocoa in our breakfast, desserts and smoothies.
A special dessert for us is chocolate-coated cherries. Defrost a serving size of frozen cherries till they’re softened, with the juice beginning to ooze out, and then sprinkle a tablespoon of cocoa powder over them. Stir the cherry and cocoa mixture until evenly coated. The dark and shiny chocolate coating should look luscious. Then we enjoy each spoonful of chocolate cherry goodness. Much better and certainly substantially healthier than cherry cordials, that chocolate cherry candy that oozes milky-white material.
Hope you all enjoy a sweet Valentine’s Day.