Haven’t you heard? Chocolate is a vegetable. Well, it starts out as a bean, although by the time you add butter and sugar, it’s definitely a treat. But regardless, dark chocolate is a delicious source of antioxidants, which means that in moderation, it counts as a heart-healthy food!
Ok, so we all know it is a bit of a push to claim that Chocolate is healthy, but we also know that if you deprive yourself of the things you love - often you are just setting yourself up for a fall. I advise that moderation, and making healthy choices is the key to staying healthy.
So here are a few recipes that will satisfy your chocolate cravings without blowing your healthy goals out of the water!
Superfood Chocolate Quinoa Bark
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules (optional)
good pinch of flaky sea salt
1 cup uncooked quinoa rinsed + dried
1/2 cup raw almonds roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews roughly chopped
1/2 cup mixed raw seeds (hemp seeds flax seeds, chia seeds + sesame seeds works great!)
12 ounces dark chocolate chopped (high percentage is best)
Cacao nibs + dried roses for topping (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large microwave safe bowl, melt together the honey or maple and coconut oil on power level high, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth (this took about 1 minute for me). Whisk in the vanilla, coffee granules and salt.
Add the quinoa, almonds, cashews and mixed seeds. Stir until all the dry ingredients are evenly coated in the wet ingredients. Spread the mixture out in an even, thin layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the the bark is golden in color and crisp. You'll know the bark is done when the cashews and quinoa look caramelized and are a deep golden brown in color.
While the bark is baking, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave, heating on 30 second intervals and stirring after each interval until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spread the melted chocolate over the bark in an even layer. Sprinkle with cacao nibs.
Place the pan in the fridge to set, about 30 minutes (or the freezer for 15). Remove and break into pieces. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.
Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups
2/3 cup (6 oz/185 g) creamy almond butter, with no added sugar or salt ¼ cup (1 oz/30 g) powdered sugar 1¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt 14 oz (440 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped Flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Process until creamy, about 1 minute. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Line a baking sheet or tray with parchment. Gently roll the almond butter mixture between your hands to form 24 small balls. Place on the prepared sheet and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a mini-muffin tray with 24 paper cups. In a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, add 6 oz (185 g) of the chocolate and stir until melted, glossy, and smooth. (Alternatively, you can microwave for a couple of minutes in a glass measuring cup until melted, stopping and stirring every minute to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.) Divide the melted chocolate between the lined cups, evenly coating the bottom of each. Freeze until the chocolate is just firm, about 10 minutes.
Place each almond butter ball onto the firm chocolate. Gently pat down to slightly flatten the top of each ball, without letting it touch the sides of the liners. Freeze until just firm, about 10 minutes.
Melt the remaining 8 oz (250 g) chocolate. Divide the chocolate between the cups, completely coating the almond butter filling. If you like, lightly sprinkle each finished cup with flaky salt. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Coconut Macaroons Dipped In Dark Chocolate
2 large egg whites ½ cup (4 oz/125 g) sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt 2 cups (8 oz/250 g) unsweetened shredded dried coconut 4 oz (125 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until well blended and frothy. Stir in the coconut. Let stand for 5 minutes.
With your hands, squeeze rounded tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake until the tops and edges are golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on the pan, then slide a spatula gently under each macaroon to loosen and transfer to a plate. Discard the parchment and line the baking sheet again with waxed paper.
In a small heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, add the chocolate. Stir until smooth, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, you can microwave on medium until melted, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.) Dip the bottom half of each cookie into the melted chocolate. Place the cookies chocolate-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.
Serve the cookies. For any remaining cookies, transfer to an airtight container and store for a few days.
Chocolate-Beet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Don’t be scared of the beets in these moist, chocolaty cupcakes! The root veggies add natural sweetness, enhancing the texture and flavor of the cake. Plus, you get a boost of fiber and antioxidants. The results are a dark, dramatic, and outrageously delicious treat.
To make the beet puree, trim and scrub a bunch of baby beets. Wrap in foil and bake in a 400°F (200°C) oven until beets can be pierced easily with a knife, 45 minutes to one hour. Unwrap and cool; gently peel with a paring knife and purée in a food processor until smooth. Some grocery stores also sell packages of pre-cooked beets, which makes it easy.
1¾ cups (9 oz/280 g) all-purpose flour ¾ cup (2½ oz/75 g) Dutch process or “extra dark” cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 1½ cups (12 oz/375 g) granulated sugar ¾ cup (6 oz/185 g) beet puree (see note above) ¾ cup (6 fl oz/180 ml) canola or vegetable oil 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) hot water
For the cream cheese frosting: ½ cup (2 oz/60 g) powdered sugar ¼ cup (¾ oz/20 g) Dutch process or “extra dark” cocoa powder 8 oz (250 g) Neufchâtel cream cheese, softened
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, beet puree, oil, and vanilla. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the hot water, then the remaining flour mixture. Whisk just until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, remove the cupcakes from the pan, and cool completely on a rack.
To make the cream cheese frosting, sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. In a bowl, using a mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes and serve immediately, or store in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 1 day.