Ahh, Valentine’s Day. I can already smell the roses, lilies, candles… and chocolate. Lots, and lots of chocolate. With chocolates lining the aisles of every grocery store, convenience store, and market alike, it’s practically impossible to avoid it, but who says you have to, I know I’m not! Did you know that chocolate is a natural aphrodisiac, that is loaded with antioxidants, boosts heart health, lowers cholesterol, and boosts your overall mood? Sounds like a winner to me! So are there ways to indulge in chocolate without packing on the pounds and wrecking your diet? You betcha! But, you may have to do a little digging to find the healthier options, as not all chocolate is created equal. Sorry guys but M&M’s are not going to make you live longer 🙂
Many traditional Valentine’s Day chocolates (and chocolates in general) contain excess sugars and a laundry list of unnecessary added ingredients (soy lecithin, dextrose, TBHQ… what?). Not to mention, those tiny bite-sized suckers can set you back tons of calories. Three pieces of candy from one of those cute Russell Stover heart boxes contain a whopping 200 calories and 26g of sugar, and on Valentine’s Day, who stops at just 3? Okay, so maybe you go for the sugar-free chocolates instead. Better, right? Not so fast. When companies remove the sugar, they often replace it with artificial sweeteners – some of which have been linked to Cancer, and all of which trick your body into thinking real sugar is coming, increasing your desire for something sweet (hello downward spiral). Not to mention, they really don’t differ all that much in the calorie department. So, that cute Valentine’s day heart doesn’t look so cute anymore, does it? This is not to say that all store-bought chocolate is a total no-no. If you stick to these simple rules, you can dig in and reap the benefits. Look for chocolate that:
- Has more than 70% cacao
- Is organic
- Is sweetened with coconut sugar
- Has no additives
- A few favorite brands include: Fine and Raw, Raaka, NibMor & Mast Brothers
If you are more of a homemade fan then do I have a recipe for you. I recently made these chocolate truffles for the holidays, and everyone lovedthem. If you’ve never attempted to make your own truffles before, what better time to put your chocolate-making skills to the test than Valentine’s Day? These truffles are naturally sweetened and call for dark chocolate with more than 70% cocao. For valentines day I’d suggest adding some chopped almonds or a little cayenne pepper to heat things up a bit. The recipe is as follows:
- 8 oz dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa), chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder, for rolling
- Assorted toppings: cocoa powder (for an ombre effect, use a few different brands), finely chopped nuts (pistachios, Marcona almonds, hazelnuts), and toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
- Heat chocolate, oil, and 3 Tbsp water in a double boiler, stirring, until just melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sea salt.
- Transfer to an 8-inch baking dish and refrigerate until mixture is set but still pliable, about 2 hours.
- Using a 1-inch scoop or melon baller, scoop out chocolate mixture and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Coat hands in cocoa and roll chocolate into balls. Refrigerate on parchment-lined baking sheet 10 minutes.
*This recipe was sourced from Whole Living*