Chocoholics unite – it’s almost Valentine’s Day!

At around this time of year, most of us are surrounded by one of my favorite foods – CHOCOLATE!  Good news for chocoholics –this sweet and rich treat is one of those rare and special foods that is good for your health and your taste buds.  It has been enjoyed for thousands of years both as a dessert and an aphrodisiac.  Whether you’re treating yourself, or getting something for your sweetie, here are some of my favorite justifications for indulging in this sinfully rich albeit healthy dessert.

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Photo taken by Jonathan Reyes/Flickr

Chocolate is rich in flavonoids that are packed with antioxidants and have important minerals such as magnesium and iron.  These nutrients have been shown to help lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, and also trigger the release of feel-good serotonin. You only need to eat an ounce of chocolate a few times per week to enjoy these health benefits!

With such a huge selection of chocolate at your disposal, choosing the right brand has never been more important. You won’t be getting the nutrients from real chocolate by eating Hershey or Snickers Bars.  Most of the chocolate in those candy bars and hot cocoa mixes sold in stores are made with cocoa powder that has been Dutch processed or alkalized.  Alkalized cocoa powder has been chemically processed to reduce the acidity and bitter flavor.  This results in a milder, mellower flavor, but unfortunately greatly reduces the amount of nutrients.  This is why it’s important to pay attention to quality and choose premium dark chocolate.  The really good stuff does more than just label itself as dark – there will be a percentage of cocoa content listed.  Look for at least 60%.  The higher the percentage, the better it is.

Here are some of my favorite chocolate bars to satisfy that craving:

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Chocolove’s yummy treats are made right here in Colorado.  This has tons of flavors with wide ranges of cocoa content.  I especially love their Currants and Almonds bar.  There are also sweet love poems inside the wrapping!

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Green & Black’s chocolate bars are super rich. They use organic and ethically sourced ingredients.

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Theo Chocolate’s chocolate bars contain ingredients that are certified Fair Trade and organic.  For extra spice, the chili dark chocolate bar is my favorite.

If eating a whole chocolate bar sounds overwhelming or too self-indulgent, try adding 1-2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder to your smoothies at home. I stock Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder in my kitchen.  I also like to make my own fudge by mixing cocoa powder with unrefined coconut oil and raw honey.

In case you haven’t already guessed, I actually choose to enjoy this year round, not just on Valentine’s Day.  To get the most of your tasting experience, enjoy it mindfully and eat it slowly with all five of your senses. If you’re looking for an extra healthy dose of chocolate, look no further than Martha Stewart’s extra sinful Dark Chocolate Pudding.

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Dark chocolate pudding
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for serving

Puree avocados, cocoa, honey and vanilla in a food processor or blender until smooth. Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.

For an extra spicy kick, I like to add cinnamon and chili powder, to taste. :)

 

Photo taken by Ulterior Epicure/Flickr

About The Author

Jennifer Musser
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist

Jennifer Musser was born and raised in Seattle but loves living in Denver and enjoys most everything that the city and mountains have to offer. After receiving her B.S. in Human Nutrition and Food Science from Colorado State University, she became a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in 2004. As a Certified LEAP** Therapist, Jennifer has specialized training in food sensitivities and related inflammatory conditions. An experienced healthcare practitioner, she understands the importance of being mindful of what we eat and that both traditional and alternative nutrition therapies have a place in helping us look and feel our best. At Fitness Luxe, she will dole out sound and delicious advice on what you should be eating to make the best out of your diet for a healthy, fit and happy life. **Lifestyle Eating and Performance