Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Moderate evidence suggests that modest consumption of dark chocolate or cocoa is associated with health benefits in the form of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Research suggests a 44% reduced risk of dying from heart disease if dark chocolate is consumed once per week vs. never and additional benefits include:
This month's theme for Recipe Redux was "Favorite Chocolate Matches"
Does your chocolate need a friend? This month’s posting will be after Valentine’s Day, so you may have a bit of extra chocolate around. What’s your favorite chocolate match? Be it traditional peanut butter or something more exotic like cayenne + chocolate. Show us your favorite healthy chocolate combo recipe.
Of course, I was immediately game, but thought long and hard of what type of recipe I wanted to share with you. While I have many recipes that include chocolate as an ingredient, I wanted to share something that involved chocolate taking center stage. I am a huge fan of fruit-filled chocolate truffles, but they are expensive to buy and hard to make! With these Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Cups, I've simplified the process. These are a similar idea as peanut butter cups, but I've substituted the peanut butter for fresh (or frozen) fruit for an extra burst of natural sweetness and added antioxidants. Feel free to play around with your own combinations as the possibilities are endless. I've included a few ideas for you the end of the post!
1.5 c. dark chocolate chips (I used 65% cocoa)
1 tbsp coconut oil
Assortment of fresh fruit (I used blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and even kiwi)
1/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds (optional- for added crunch!)
Combine chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for approximately 1.5- 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Line a baking pan with mini-muffin tin liners and prepare with cooking spray. You can also use a mini-cupcake pan and skip the liners, but I didn't have one.
Drop enough chocolate to line the bottom of each cupcake liner, followed by a sprinkling of your fruit of choice. Finish with another layer of melted chocolate, enough to cover the fruit (mostly), and top with a few nuts (I used pumpkin seeds). Place in the freezer for approximately 15-20 minutes until chocolate has solidified, unless your area is currently being consumed by an arctic blast, then they will probably freeze even faster outside (I just stuck them on my front porch). Pretty quick & simple with room to play and create your own combinations. With a little time and effort, you are left with delicious homemade gourmet chocolates with fresh ingredients!
As a bonus, here are a few alternative options for fillings:
1) Toasted coconut and slivered almonds
2) Pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries
3) Thin sliced banana and PB
4) Crushed peppermint
5) Dried cherries and shaved orange peel
6) Peanut butter and finely diced strawberries
7) Blueberries and diced walnuts
8) Finely diced kiwi and coconut
If you're a chocolate fan, be sure to check out a few of my other recipe posts below. Also check out the other Recipe Redux bloggers for even more chocolate recipe fun!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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