Ah, the month of love. But also, the month of chocolate. And roses, and romance and all those typical things Valentine’s Day related. While all that is great if it applies to you, I dedicate all of February to this sweet treat, as I go cuckoo for chocolate. (Cue the crazy bird Sonny who loves Cocoa Puffs as much as I do). While I am not a huge dessert eater, this sweet treat and I have this special bond.
To satiate my cravings on the daily, I have a square of Lindt 85% dark chocolate. This isn’t for the light hearted, as this dark chocolate has more of a bitter taste, but it is sweet enough for me. And guess what? No guilt, since dark chocolate has health benefits.
This is not a joke, I don’t kid about this stuff.
The company Bliss had quite a clever founder when choosing their company name. Chocolate stimulates the production of neurotransmitters associated with happiness, hence a bite of chocolate produces bliss. Get it? Even so, too much of anything is never good, so as hard as it might be, approach eating chocolate with caution (although on Valentine’s Day, I think you deserve some indulgence).
Dark, glowing skin. We all want it. That perfect tan that turns heads. One way to get that is to bake in the sun. But ouch, that can cause skin damage and possibly lead to skin cancer. Can we get the best of both worlds? Well, dark chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which have flavanols that can improve blood flow to the skin, up your skin hydration, and make you more protected from the sun’s damaging rays.
So, dark chocolate + the sun = greater chance of healthy tanned skin. Dark chocolate cannot replace sunscreen, sigh, so proceed with caution.
Brain Power needed? Ditch the caffeine, grab some dark chocolate.
Got a test? Need to finish a project within the next three hours that you barely started? Who are we going to call? Dark chocolate! Cocoa can boost your brain power short term, which can be good for speaking in front of professors and your crush, or for calculating the discount of that gorgeous dress on sale you just have to buy. Use your enhanced brain function as you wish. Am I saying have chocolate for breakfast? I’m definitely not saying it isn’t a possibility.
Performance improved. Increased alertness. Less stress. Seems logical to sneak some dark chocolate into your morning meal to me. Even better, dark chocolate gives off a vibe to your brain of being full. You feel more satisfied by eating this bad boy versus milk chocolate. This makes you not want to reach for the salty and fatty foods. You are also less likely to overeat. Dessert first? Yes, please.
Chocolate really is the best medicine.
You know what tastes better than cough drops? Pretty much anything, but I’m talking about chocolate. There is indeed a correlation between these two. Discard the rather yucky cough drops and go with dark chocolate instead, as a chemical in it called theobromine can quiet coughs. Chocolate really is the best medicine. To reap all of these benefits, try some dark chocolate with at at least 70% cocoa. It’s sweeter than you think.
This Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter, whip up some chocolate desserts. Here are three easy-to-make treats:
Fruit and chocolate are born to be together
Probably the most simple, yet most delicious dessert ever is chocolate covered strawberries. Simply heat up some chocolate by chopping it into small chunks and placing it in a wide bowl. Heat this chunky goodness on medium high in the microwave for 1 minute. Take out and stir. Heat in 15 to 20 second intervals, each time stirring, until the chocolate is completely melted. Take each strawberry and let it have a warm chocolate bath by dipping it in the melted chocolate. Throw on some sprinkles or chocolate chips for extra pizazz. Place on wax paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm. This can also work with pretzels, bananas, or apple slices.
So why not make a chocolate panini?
It’s as easy as it sounds. To be extra cute for Valentine’s Day, cut the bread into heart shapes. Simply butter one side of each bread slice (sourdough, raisin bread, challah, whole grain, etc). Cut up some dark chocolate or grab a handful of chocolate chips and cover one slice of bread on the side with no butter on it. Place the other bread slice, butter side up, on top. You can always add some peanut butter, white chocolate, or bananas inside the panini as well. Heat a pan over medium heat and let the bread get golden brown, for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Let that chocolate ooze!
Raw Chocolate Fudge Balls: Gluten, Nut & Dairy Free
“Chocolate Covered Katie” is one of my favorite sites to find and re-create healthy treats. Try her raw chocolate fudge balls and fall in love with them this Valentine’s Day.
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp cacao or cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
optional small handful chocolate chips, cocoa, shredded coconut, melted chocolate, etc.
1. Combine the first three ingredients (and chips, if using) in a strong food processor or Vitamix.
2. Blend until completely smooth.
3. Scoop into a bowl and freeze until the sticky dough is firm enough to roll balls (a half hour or so).
4. Roll into balls with either your hands or a mini cookie scoop.
5. You can then roll in the optional cocoa or coconut, or just eat them plain.
6. Store any leftovers in the freezer, so they stay extra firm.
Make any day better with a square of dark chocolate, as this treat has many health benefits. Yes, I advocate for a daily dose of dark chocolate- especially on Valentine’s Day.