As Valentine’s Day approaches, we have chocolate on the mind! Dark chocolate, that is — packed with antioxidants, minerals, and prebiotic compounds. The long-standing ritual of showering loved ones with chocolates may go beyond chocolate’s aphrodisiac properties; it could actually be good for their health! We’re not talking about candy-coated milk chocolates and peanut butter cups, though. Unfortunately, these tasty treats are loaded with genetically modified sugar, artificial ingredients, and very little of the beneficial cacao that makes dark chocolate so good for you.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
- Rich in minerals: magnesium, sulfur, selenium, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, and calcium
- Source of vitamins, especially B vitamins and vitamin E
- Contains flavonoids, with more antioxidant power than strawberries!
- Improves mood, energy, and mental clarity, due to its effect on serotonin, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its high theobromine content
- Heart healthy, as it lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, and decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke
- Supports digestive health by providing fiber and stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut
- Lowers blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity, which is particularly beneficial for those with or at risk of type 2 diabetes
- Stops coughs and asthma attacks by opening bronchial passages and decreasing bronchospasms
To choose a healthy chocolate, select a bar made with organic cacao. Look for at least 70-75% cacao for optimal health benefits. Make sure, too, to find a chocolate sweetened with a natural alternative to white or GMO sugar, such as coconut sugar, stevia, or honey. Better yet, make your own chocolate treats! We’re happy to serve up these tasty recipes in honor of Valentine’s Day.
Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
Inspired by agirlworthsaving.com
These are some yummy chocolate cupcakes! I find that often, consistency is a problem in Paleo baking. These cupcakes have a great consistency and are really tasty. I’m still on a cherry kick, so I added thawed, frozen cherries to some of them and YUM! What a great surprise in the middle. You can try other things like nuts or chocolate chips. I also created a Paleo-friendly chocolate buttercream frosting that made my fussy daughter’s eyes widen in delight. So, that one’s a keeper. I made hearts out of organic strawberries by slicing them and cutting a “v” in the top. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup cacoa powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or grass-fed butter
- 1/4 cup water or milk of your choice
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbs coconut sugar
- 1 Tbs erythritol
- 1 Tbs applesauce
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Put cupcake liners in cupcake pan.
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and hand-stir until well combined.
- Spoon batter into liners. If adding cherries or fruit, fill halfway or less, push fruit down into the batter, then cover with more batter.
- Cook for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If using fruit, make sure to stick the toothpick in the side, not into the fruit.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- Frost and decorate as desired.
Paleo-Friendly Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter softened to room temperature – do not melt!
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbs + 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 3 Tbs honey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs hot water or hot milk of choice
- 1 Tbs coconut sugar
- 1 Tbs organic stevia powder
- Dissolve the coconut sugar in the hot water or hot milk.
- Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir by hand first to avoid the cocoa powder flying all over the place when using a hand mixer. I used a hand mixer with a wisking tool on the end.
- Taste testing here is important. I find that different brands of stevia powder have different levels of sweetness. If you want it sweeter, then add more stevia to the desired sweetness. I used 2 Tbs stevia for ours.
Naturally-Sweetened Chocolate Dip for Fruit
Fruit dipped in chocolate is always a tasty treat. This recipe is for 1 serving, so multiply by the number of people eating to get the right amount. This dip stays softish unless you refrigerate it. It is very good though, even just as a dip and eat! Get a big platter of your favorite fruit and dig in. Our favorites to dip are strawberries, sliced bananas, pineapple chunks, raspberries, and mango. What’s your favorite?
- 2 Tbs coconut oil
- 2 Tbs cocoa powder
- 8 drops stevia liquid
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- 1/2 Tbs honey
- Melt coconut oil.
- Add coconut sugar to heated oil so it dissolves.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Dip fruit and enjoy!
By Kerrie Bross