What better occasion to talk about chocolate than this week! After all, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and while I don’t eat chocolate on a daily basis, I make exceptions. And this week is one of them. After all, chocolate in itself is not bad for you. At least not when you buy the right kind and eat it in moderation. Which is why I ventured into making my very own Valentine’s treat! Come and cook with us!
The reason why chocolate, and specifically cocoa, is good for you is because it is loaded with compounds called flavanoids. In plants, these flavanoids provide protection from environmental toxins, and when we eat a diet rich in these flavanoids, we also get a lot of the same benefits the plants get. Over 4,000 different types of flavanoids can be found in plants and the particular class of flavanoids in chocolate are called flavanols. They help to prevent fat-like substances in our bloodstream from clogging the arteries, which is why chocolate is known for reducing cardiovascular risk. Furthermore, chocolate also contains magnesium, one of the most important minerals for our heart health.
But don’t reach for those candy bars just yet. These antioxidants you are looking for are found in real cocoa and unless you buy the high-cocoa-content dark chocolate, you will most likely get more sugar and fat than you bargained for. So look for 60% or higher cocoa content with limited additional ingredients. Cocoa butter is the type of fat you want in your chocolate, so beware any cheap brands that replace the good cocoa butter with milk fats and hydrogenated oils. And sorry, milk and white chocolate won’t do.
While I enjoy indulging myself in a delicious bar of good quality chocolate, I seldom bake or cook with it, the occasional banana chocolate-swirl bread aside. This nutty chocolate bark with cardamom caught my eye, though, and after trying it for tomorrow’s Valentine’s celebration, I know that I’ll be back for more. The kids found a chocolate-covered spatula in the sink and were pressing me to know what I had made with chocolate. They are in for a treat this Valentine’s and I can’t wait to see their reaction when they bite into this deliciousness. May your Valentine’s celebration be filled with as much love and good food as theirs. Come and cook with us!
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