Benefits include things like lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced risk of blood clots - thus lower risk of strokes, increased insulin resistance and even boosted brain power. These are all pretty amazing benefits to glean from eating the delectable food of the gods.
Our previous page gave some fast, fun recipes for chocolate creations which are fun for gift giving or whipping up when having a few guests over, even for munching.
How lucky we are to have the availability and opportunity to quickly and easily make delicious healthy chocolate delights.
Chocolate actually was first grown in Mesoamerica and can be traced all the way back to 1900 BC. They Mayans and Aztecs used chocolate in their royal and religious events. The seeds were offered to the gods and chocolate drinks were served during sacred ceremonies. I wonder if they knew about healthy chocolate.
With world travel and trade, it was logical that eventually it would be taken to Europe, and that Europeans sweetened and lightened it by adding refined sugar and milk - things not used in Mesoamerica, creating milk chocolate and thus reducing the benefits of healthy chocolate.
It wasn't until the 19th century that John Cadbury developed an emulsification process - and vwaa laa, the modern chocolate bar was created. And now, all we do is go to the store and purchase any number of delightful, delicious chocolates - already made - or ingredients for the making of our own creations, even healthy chocolate creations.
The first recipe we will look at with healthy ingredients is a version of the peanut butter cup all healthied up.
Healthy Peanut Butter Cups
1/2 c. Coconut oil
1/2 c. honey
1 cup nut butter, peanut butter, almond butter, etc. (use your favorite)
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. dark or semi-sweet chocolate
Combine the first four ingredients until smooth. The only lumps should be peanuts if you have used chunky peanut butter.
Press the nut butter mixture into an 8x8 pan, or place cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
(I actually have a candy mold for peanut butter cups that you can paint with the melted chocolate and then fill with the nut butter mixture, and pour some chocolate on the top, so they look just like peanut butter cups.)
Next, melt the chocolate chips, or chopped baking chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave. Stirring very often until chocolate is smooth and shiny.
(In the microwave, microwave it for one minute, stir, and continue with 20 second intervals until all melted - Don't over heat).
Pour it over the top of the nut butter mixture and smooth it out with a spatula or knife.
Place in the fridge to cool. Can be stored in the fridge or the freezer.
How easy is that?! And as healthy as delicious!!
Since I was a little girl my dad fixed his own homemade hot chocolate for us in the mornings. We all still love his recipe, but I have tried to make it a little healthier - so here goes.
Homemade Hot Chocolate
4 cups water
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t. cinnamon and/or
1/8 t. cayenne pepper or to taste
If you want really healthy chocolate, start by infusing your water with an herb.
Do this by bring your water to a boil, add 1/2 - 3/4 dried herb (Marshmallow is moistening, peppermint is stimulating, etc.)
Let it steep for 15 - 30 minutes. You can also make an infusion the same way - just let it sit for four hours to overnight for a nice medicinal blend.
Then use the infused water (tea or infusion), or just use plain water if you are in a hurry, add the other ingredients, stir, making sure all the lumps are dissolved, and heat to tolerance.
This is actually a delicious homemade hot chocolate.
If you are giving a homemade hot chocolate mix as a gift there are a couple of fun things you can do. You could actually just include a few packets of gourmet dark chocolate cocoa mix in a mug and attach either of the following:
Though peppermint sticks are candy they aren't all bad. The peppermint oil in the candy is still good for digestion and is nice after a heavy meal.
Simply melt your dark or semi sweet healthy chocolate as you have done above and dip the end of your peppermint stick in the chocolate. I love the big soft peppermint sticks for this.
Lay on a sheet of wax paper and let it dry. Then wrap individually and attatch one or more to the mug with a ribbon. They make a fabulous stir stick.
You can even decorate them up a bit more if you want to gently roll the chocolate in more crushed peppermint candy, or drizzle carmel back and forth over the chocolate, or crush a piece of toffee candy and sprinkle it on the chocolate while it is still soft.
If you are not using it for a hot chocolate stir stick, you could even use chopped nuts for the garnish.
You can do exactly the same thing using good quality disposable spoons. Dip the spoon in the chocolate, then add garnish of your choice, and attatch that to the mug with a ribbon. Very fun.
Chocolate covered pretzels are also fast and fun to dip . Melt the chocolate and dip the pretzel. Dip that into crushed peppermint candy if you want to.
Let's not forget the most delectable of all - chocolate covered strawberries. So easy. So delicious. They don't last very long though, so make them as close to giving away (or eating) as possible, keep them in the refrigerator, then ask the receiver to keep them refrigerated. Going bad is usually not a problem - they disappear fast.
Strawberries are one of the super food family of berries. Dip them in dark healthy chocolate and you truly have a delectable healthy gift or indulgent treat.
I just ran across another healthy chocolate recipe in the Cooking Light magazine that I wanted to share.
Pistachio-Coated Chocolate-Dipped Apples
Dip 3 apple wedges into 1 melted dark chocolate square. Sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon crushed salted pistachios.
This is a 100- calorie treat.
Well, all this talk of chocolate is making me hungry. I need to go find a nice piece of "healthy" chocolate! Enjoy!