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 LOVE chocolate. However, there was a point in time when I would restrict chocolate during the week and only allow myself to have it on the weekends…and instead of enjoying that chocolate, I’d binge eat it and end up feeling miserable physically and mentally.

With a life of food freedom, I can enjoy chocolate pretty much daily now without over-eating. But, one thing I love about a mindful & intuitive eating lifestyle is combining food freedom with gentle nutrition: foods that you enjoy, foods that physically make your body feel good, and foods that satisfy you.

Personally, I’m satisfied by eating dark chocolate – I like the taste, I like that it pairs well with fruit and peanut butter, and I like that it’s full of antioxidants!

According to the research done by Loma Linda University (shout out to my alma mater), 70 percent dark chocolate cocoa 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.  

Dark chocolate is more bitter than milk chocolate, so it is not as desirable to just snack on. 

Here are some other fun ways to enjoy dark chocolate:
Dark chocolate chips stuffed dates
Peanut butter + banana + dark chocolate chips
Banana pops
Dark chocolate bark

 Below you will find my chocolate covered strawberry recipe! Combining the bitter dark chocolate with the sweet strawberry gives it a nice balance that is not overwhelming.  Using 70% dark chocolate will help give you those neurological benefits and offset the sweet flavors from the strawberries.

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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.

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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.

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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. Spice up your next date-night-in, girls-night, or bridal shower with this elegant dessert. 

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Try these decadent berries and tag me on instagram or share on Pinterest.

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!

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Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN
Follow me on social media!!

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.