It is not Christmas or St Valentine’s day, but I guess the chocolate topic is always good to discuss since everyone loves chocolate, right? Well, at least the majority of girls do. Good news is if chocolate is dark and made from high-quality ingredients it can be a delicious yet healthy addition to any diet. Today I am sharing my idea of making chocolate even healthier!
Everyone at some point has heard that chocolate has some health benefits. With dark high-quality chocolate, this is actually close to the truth. Most of the benefits are coming from an active compound theobromine. It is a bitter alkaloid which acts as a natural vasodilator (a.k.a. dilates your blood vessels to allow more blood flow and oxygen), a diuretic (a.k.a. increasing urination to rid the body of excess fluids), and a heart stimulant. Chocolate also contains a good amount of magnesium.
What do the studies say?
One study on cortisol, subjects who had 40 grams (1.5 ounces) of dark chocolate per day, for two weeks, showed lowered urine cortisol levels.
Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure by 2 to 3 points.
It reduces low-density lipoproteins (LDL), total cholesterol, and lowers your risk of heart disease.
It increases blood flow to the brain, which helps the brain remain neuroplastic and young. It improves executive functioning—including attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, problem-solving, and planning.
Chocolate’s antioxidant boost counters the stress of aging and modern life.
A study at Harvard Medical School found that drinking hot chocolate improves brain health and reduces memory loss in people in their seventies
Okay, enough of science for today, let’s talk about the recipe.
In my last post, I wrote about Superfoods and the way I incorporate them in the kitchen. Making a chocolate treat is another (probably my favorite) way to add those nutrition powerhouses in my diet.
As you can see, besides using organic cacao powder and raw cacao nibs I also enjoy a good dark chocolate. I love it really dark, about 85%, because of its rich flavor and a small amount of sugar. But all chocolate over 70% is considered to be okay. The bonus of loving dark chocolate is it really tough to overeat (but still possible), keep in mind that 20-40 grams is a perfect portion size. Furthermore, it is also important to savor every bite and take your time appreciating this delightful food.
The idea of customizing chocolate came to me after I developed a taste for good chocolate and became really picky eater. One day I was standing in front of a chocolate stand at a supermarket and simply could not decide what I wanted (one bar had puffed quinoa, another one — salted almonds, but I wanted all together!) That was my ah-ha moment! Since that time I am making perfect chocolate myself.
- Ingredients: (for about 4 servings )
- 1 bar (100 g) of plain organic fair-trade chocolate (best to use 75 % of cacao and higher, soy-free options)
- A handful of goji berries (any favorite unsweetened chopped dry fruit)
- 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs
- 2 tbsp coconut flakes
- 1 tsp maca powder
- Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
- In a mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Prepare a clean glass form, silicon form or a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Spread your filling evenly on the form.
- In a large mixing bowl melt chocolate on a double bath.
- Pour the melted chocolate over filling. Shake the form gently to make sure the chocolate evenly spread. Sprinkle some sea salt on top.
- Put in the fridge for a couple of hours or until chocolate has set. (to make it faster place it in a freezer and then transfer to a fridge)
- Break into small pieces and perfect dessert is ready! Time to make some tea!
- Keep in the fridge.
A customized chocolate bar is a great idea for a present or an elegant snack/dessert. You can create any shape you want (if you choose to use silicon forms) and fill your chocolate with about anything you truly enjoy. How exciting!
Additional filling ideas:
Lemon/orange zest, puffed rice or quinoa, vanilla extract, rose petals (for a special romantic edition!), bee pollen, spices, lightly roasted nuts/seeds.
If you decide to make your own bar, please let me know!
I would love to see your creations! Comment below or share it on social media using hashtag #lemonsqueezylife
Sending lots of love and joy your way!