Chocolate is the perfect food of the month choice for February, right? It's a popular treat, and a long-time traditional gift for the Valentine’s Day holiday. Many people think that the health benefits come from the antioxidants in chocolate. In fact, the health benefits come from the flavanols (not to be mistaken by flavonols) found in chocolate. Flavanols are a category of flavonoids, which is a group of phytonutrients. The flavanols found in this treat have been shown to affect the inner lining of blood vessels, making them more flexible, which improves blood flow. The presence of flavanols in chocolate are a result of how the cocoa is processed, and unfortunately that information is not provided on a food label.
Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Although there are health benefits associated with consuming this food, it still contains sugar and saturated fat. Aim for no more than one ounce of chocolate a day. People also think that the only healthy chocolate is dark chocolate. Milk and dark chocolate do not vary much in calories, but dark tends to be slightly lower in sugar. Cocoa powder used as an ingredient in other dishes will be the lowest in sugar, while still providing the healthy benefits of flavanols. Make note that white chocolate is not considered chocolate because it lacks the presence of cacao solids, and will not provide any flavanols.
Check out this healthy indulgence to share with your special Valentine.
Chocolate Drizzled Strawberries
- 12 ounces of dark chocolate (chips or roughly chopped if from a block)
- 8 ounces of heavy cream
- A pinch of salt
- Fresh strawberries (or other fresh fruits like pineapple, bananas or apples)
- Arrange the fruit on a platter, plate or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or non-stick foil.
- Warm the cream over moderate heat until tiny bubbles show and begins to lightly and slowly boil. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and fully incorporated.
- Immediately turn heat to the lowest setting to keep warm.
- Lightly drizzle the chocolate fondue onto the fruit.
- Refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened.