nutrition, recipes, wellness

Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Valentine’s day is literally right around the corner—how are you going to celebrate?  This is such a fun holiday to celebrate because it emphasizes how much love you have for people.  Yes, we need to let people know we love them on a regular basis, but this is just another hallmark excuse for us to buy our loved ones gifts—primarily chocolate!

I am not going to lie—I do love chocolate!  However, we know that milk chocolate and white chocolate (which isn’t even truly chocolate) are considered “unhealthy”.  Now, I am a moderation kind-of-gal, but there is one other kind of chocolate that has actually been researched to show some health benefit.  Any guesses?  That’s right! Dark Chocolate!

What is it about dark chocolate that is better for you as opposed to milk chocolate?  Well, for one, there is a lot less added sugar and milk solids.  That is the main difference between the two.  According to the research done by Loma Linda University (shout out to my school), 70 percent dark chocolate cocao content affects regions of the brain associated with memory.  This research showed the affects of chocolate to “promote nerve cell growth, increased brain function communication, blood flow improvement, and the formation of blood vessels in the brain and sensory systems”.   The key word here in dark chocolate is “70 percent” or more.  Below 70 percent contains the added sugars and milk that are the less healthful option.

Great—now we can eat all the dark chocolate we want, right?  In moderation, of course.  I personally love dark chocolate, but I have been eating it for a long time, and it kind of takes a while before your tastes buds love it.  Why, you may ask?  Dark chocolate is a lot more bitter than milk chocolate, so it is not as desirable to just snack on.  Luckily for you, I have a dark chocolate covered strawberry recipe tutorial down below for you to try this Valentine’s Day!  Combining the bitter dark chocolate with the sweet strawberry gives it a nice balance that is not overwhelming.  Again, make sure you use 70 percent dark chocolate or more to get the neurological benefits!

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See full ingredient list and procedure at the end of this blog.

First, you will need a small bowl, a spoon, 70% or higher dark chocolate (I used a mix of 85% and 70%), fresh strawberries, coconut oil, wax paper, a sheet pan, unsweetened coconut flakes, and red sugar crystals.  The coconut flakes and red crystals are solely for decoration purposes, and they add a little bit of pizzazz.

choc

You may be thinking—why the coconut oil?  Now, I am not on the “coconut” bandwagon where I use anything and everything coconut, but for this recipe it works—and here is why.  From my food experimentation in food science lab, I found through research that coconut oil helps harden candies and syrups when completely cooled at room temperature.  This makes sense, because coconut oil is a saturated fat, which is solid at room temperature.  This will give the strawberries a nice, hard coating. We do not need much!  Just a teaspoon or less will do the trick. Take the chocolate and coconut oil and melt them in a microwave safe bowl at 30-second intervals to make sure you do not burn the chocolate.  I have burnt chocolate many of times, and it does not taste good one bit.  Wash strawberries in a strainer.

straw

Line your baking sheet with wax paper.  Simply dip the strawberries in the chocolate and set them on the wax paper to cool.  It is that simple.  Once the strawberries are all lined on the paper, add your decorations!  Let cool for at least 1 hour and enjoy!

finished

That is literally all to it.  Very simple, yet extremely satisfying.  I guarantee they will be a crowd favorite at your next Valentine event.  These chocolate-covered strawberries also work well at bridal showers, baby showers, or for a romantic night at home with the hubs!

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Try these decadent berries using 70% dark chocolate or higher, and let me know on facebook at Live Better with Kat Detter or instagram a pic to @betterwithkatdetter.  Got a pinterest?  Pin this nutrition post and recipe! Until next time, keep living better!

Ingredients:

1.5 bars of 70% or higher dark chocolate 1

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Washed and drained fresh strawberries

Unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Red sugar crystals (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash and drain strawberries, and allow to dry.
  2. In a small bowl, microwave chocolate and coconut oil at 30-minute intervals, stirring in between each.
  3. Dip strawberries in dark chocolate and set on wax paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Optional: Add unsweetened coconut flakes and red sugar crystals for decoration.
  5. Allow to cool for at least and hour.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

 

References:
Nelson J, Sun T. Loma Linda Study Reveals New Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.  http://www.sbsun.com/health/20151018/loma-linda-study-reveals-new-health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate.  Accessed February 11, 2017.

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