Now that winter is in full-swing here in the Great White North, and since the Holidays seem like a distant dream, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of us are developing the winter blues. The weather is dreary, it’s pretty darn chilly, and the sun still sets way too early for my liking.
I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, because I know the statistics, and I know myself – I’d start off energized, determined, and going at it full speed, only to let my resolution take the back-burner and somehow (whoops!) fall back in the same routines. But that doesn’t mean I’m not down to make some improvements, and find out where I can tweak my life a little to make it just a tad better!
So first off, I’ll start with dessert.
If you’ve figured out by now that I love chocolate (haha, who hasn’t by now?!), then you may fancy these little chocolate treats as much as I do. I’ve seen some similar ones online (hey, talesofakitchen.com – I’m a big fan!), but as per usual, I’m always up for a challenge in making recipes a little bit healthier!
They’re indulgent, portion-controlled, and best of all, heart-healthy. Using unsweetened baker’s chocolate cuts the sugar and saves you time – they’re quick and easy to prepare! Dried fruits contain enough sugar to keep the treat sweet, without being over-whelming, and Chia seeds are my personal touch because I’m a Chia-lover.
I called these the “Heart-healthy Chocolate Treats feat. Goji Berries” because I’m hip and trendy, and am very down with the lingo these days.
Heart-Healthy Chocolate Treats
Feat. Goji Berries
Adapted from: Tales of a Kitchen
2 Cups unsweetened baker’s chocolate
1.5 Cups mixed and dried pineapple, goji berries, mangoes
½ Cup mixed pistachios, pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon Chia seeds
Directions: In a double-boiler, melt chocolate chunks on medium-low heat until smooth. Stir often and reduce heat if chocolate begins to thicken too quickly. Be careful not to burn. Line baking pan with parchment paper and form circular chocolate forms. Allow cooling for approximately 3 minutes. Add diced dried fruit, seeds, and nuts. Sprinkle with Chia seeds. Cool in fridge, remove from pan, and enjoy.
Pairs well with: Konzelmann Estate Winery’s Merlot
“This is an elegant, velvety and gentle Merlot. Expect aromas of pomegranate, vanilla and cherry on the nose. Flavours of liquorice and raspberry first greet the palate, then give way to a soft, food friendly tannin.”
Health Check: What’s the deal with dark chocolate?
We’ve all heard that dark chocolate is better for us than white or milk chocolate. But what is it that makes dark chocolate bitter? And is it really all that much healthier?
The simple answer is, “yes!” – dark chocolate really does reap greater health benefits than its’ milk or white counterparts. Dark chocolate, in the case of this recipe, unsweetened, is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants. The bitter taste of chocolate comes from a mixture of flavanols, one of the many polyphenic compounds in cocoa, as well as salivary proteins (1). This bitter flavour is more easily covered through additives and processing in milk and white chocolate, and by means of processing, the chocolate can decrease its antioxidant concentration (1).
With obesity on the rise, it comes as no surprise that cardiovascular disease is also on the rise – and that diet has been established to be one of the most influential factors of developing the disease (1). A recent meta-analysis also suggests that insulin resistance may be improved through chocolate or cocoa consumption – a promising find and an exciting field to explore further (2).
Wait a minute – doesn’t it seem almost counter-intuitive to encourage individuals to eat chocolate? Chocolate is often deemed a treat or a “sometimes food”, and more often than not, falls into the junk food category for many. However, it is pertinent to note that, in moderate amounts, chocolate, in particular dark, may decrease cardiovascular risk through protecting the body from oxidation damage and decreasing inflammation (1). As with anything, it’s important to practice moderation, and to make healthy swaps whenever possible!
While these news are certainly nothing revolutionary or new, it’s always reassuring to read the research supports my chocolate addiction, and that the occasional indulgence won’t kill you – in fact, it may actually help you a whole lot!