This time of year, the allure of chocolate is everywhere. Americans are purchasing 58 million pounds of chocolate this week alone. That equals 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate decadence. And probably a lot of stomach aches, too.
I used to be an equal opportunity chocoholic—hot chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate-covered nuts and strawberries, etc. I even memorized most of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, just for fun. In the past couple years, and especially now that I’m eating chocolate for two, I opt for the guilt-free kind—dark chocolate.
- Heart smart: Dark chocolate lowers your blood pressure. It also may prevent blood clots from forming and prevent hardening of the arteries.
- Brain food: Dark chocolate improves blood flow to the brain, improving alertness. It also contains certain chemicals that release endorphins and make a positive impact on your mood.
- Frees your free radicals: Dark chocolate is filled with more antioxidants than blueberries, green tea, red wine and pomegranate. Antioxidants are believed to slow the signs of aging and may reduce your chances of developing cancer.
- Less Filling: Dark chocolate fills you up quickly and might help reduce your cravings for unhealthy snacks.
- Happy moms and babies: Dark chocolate can help pregnant women handle stress better. (This explains why I am so stress-free lately.)
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to enjoy dark chocolate and incorporate it into your desserts. Here are a few healthy recipes that can help you satisfy your sweet tooth:
- Chocolate pudding – made with avocado
- Dark chocolate biscotti – made with whole wheat flour and flaxseed
- Chocolate layer cake – a gluten-free recipe
- Fudge brownies – made with sweet potato puree
Do you indulge in dark chocolate? If so, what are your favorite brands, chocolate shops or recipes?