It is that time of year when we all think about giving up the aztec gold we know as Chocolate, either for Lent or just as a New Years health kick after a little bit too much indulgence. January and February are so tough aren’t they full of “you must not eat this” or “remove that from your life” for a month… and whilst the weather is not great either and we find our selves inside more, we all start to struggle with these health targets, well I know I do.
Did you know that there are actually some health benefits to eating chocolate. Yup you heard me right,…
- Chocolate is made up of cocoa butter which is mainly monounsaturated and saturated fats (very little polyunsaturated), so thats a good start.
- Cocoa is also really high in polyphenols (particularly flavanols) which have a positive effect on oxidative stress, inflammation and so on, and these polyphenols are found in even higher amounts than the percentages found in acai, blueberries and cranberries.
- There is alot of science out there to show the benefits of chocolate in relation to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and it has been shown to improve our skins resistance to UV exposure.
- Apparently it has been sighted that eating dark chocolate in older age can improve cognitive function and lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Even without going into a mountain of science it makes interesting reading doesn’t it. Obviously I am not saying that making choccie the main stay of your diet is a good thing but lets face it, its not all bad !!
I aim for dark chocolate preferably 85% for eating. Anything over 70% finds it way into my kitchen for cooking but the darker the better. At about 85% the sugar content becomes less of a problem, the fat and fibre content are increased and the flavanols are starting to hit the mark – well thats how I justify it! Darker chocolate does take a bit of getting used to and not all 85% chocolates taste alike so try some out – yup I am giving you free reign to get stuck in. I love Green & Blacks as I don’t find it tastes as bitter, Lindt make a good one too. Also, as dark chocolate is quite rich and not as sweet as we may be used to eating, you can’t eat as much of it in one sitting either which is a bonus.
As Shrove Tuesday came towards us earlier this week I did mildly give some thought to cutting out the chocolate until Easter. I made a mental note to give up after downing a plate of chocolate drizzled pancakes which quite frankly I should only have eaten half of, but they were hard to resist, what can I say that little temptation gremlin was out in force. Anyway, the pile of guilty pancakes got me thinking all things chocolate, so I headed into my kitchen to try and make a more healthy chocolate treat for my kids supper that evening. What I stumbled upon was so delicious we ended up downing the whole batch in one sitting with the children mumbling “that is actually yummy Mum not like your usual weird healthy recipes” – what can I say, a table full of teenager are a harsh audience. Having said that I have now made this recipe twice more since Tuesday so I think I am on to something tasty !
- 150g cacao butter
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 1 cup cacao powder
- 8 tbsp rice malt syrup or stevia/xylitol to taste
- pinches himalayan rock salt
- ½ cup pecan nuts – broken into fairly small pieces
- goji berries
- optional – 1 tsp – 1 tbsp peppermint extract – Steenbergs or similar
Add the first five ingredients into a double boiler or bain marie in the order listed above.
Melt the ingredients on a medium heat until everything is soft then slowly whisk till smooth making sure there are no lumps and that everything is well mixed together.
Pour the chocolate liquid into a freezable container such as a silicon cake baking tray, ice cube tray etc… Sprinkle on any nuts/goji berries on top of the chocolate when it is in the container to be frozen in. Freeze over night, then break into shards or chunks and keep in the freezer until you want to eat it.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it as sweet or bitter as you want and can change about the toppings depending on what you have available.
Have a gorgeous weekend and let me know how you get on with my recipe if you give it a go.