The healthy chocolate – BRING IT ON!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Never mind who’s going to be my sweetheart – bring on the chocolate! But chocolate is bad, right? No, take heart, chocolate is actually good for you, as long as it’s the right kind.
The cocoa in chocolate contains flavonoids, naturally occurring compounds that are also found in tea, red wine, and apples. Flavonoids have antioxidant properties that protect the body’s cells against disease. They have also been linked to lowering blood pressure and plaque build-up on artery walls.
But before you reach for that big bag of chocolate-covered caramel hearts, let me tell you that all chocolate is not created equal. The more chocolate is processed, the more the good properties of the flavonoids are lost. Dark chocolate contains the highest level of flavonoids, more than milk. White chocolate doesn’t contain any flavonoids because it doesn’t contain cocoa. The higher the cocoa content in chocolate, the higher the flavonoids. Look for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa. Most chocolate that does not have the percentage on the label is between 40% and 50% cocoa.
Portion size is important too. A couple of squares of good-quality chocolate a day is healthy – a whole bar a day is not – because while the flavonoids are beneficial, you don’t need all that extra fat and sugar.
There are also a lot of politics around chocolate. Much of the world’s cocoa supply comes from regions in Africa where the workers are exploited. Have a look at www.cocoacamino.com and learn about a brand of fair-trade chocolate (paying farmers and workers a fair price for what they produce).
So go ahead, eat some good-quality chocolate and fight off those February blahs... guilt-free!
SIMPLE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
- 6 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
- 1/3 cup 35% cream
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Place chopped chocolate in a medium-size bowl. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring cream to just below a boil (small bubbles should form around the edge of pan). Pour over chocolate and stir until mixture is smooth. Cool in fridge for at least 2 hours or until mixture is firm.
Using a teaspoon, scoop out chocolate mixture and gently roll into a ball (make sure your hands are not too warm). Roll balls in cocoa powder.
Truffles can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Allow the truffles to come up to room temperature before serving. Make this homemade treat for your Valentine, or anytime. These truffles are a cinch to make and pack a big chocolate punch. Makes about 3 dozen.
©2007 SayItCornell.com / SayItCanada.ca. All rights reserved.
Laura Buckley is a chef and recipe consultant. She trained at the Stratford Chefs School and has worked in the kitchens of some of the top restaurants in Toronto. She also ran a catering company, called Eats of Eden, cooking for rock stars to royalty. She develops and tests recipes for cookbooks and magazines, teaches cooking classes, and is co-editor of All Stirred Up (Random House, 2003) and recipe developer for The G.I. Diet Cookbook (Random House, 2006). Laura is on the board of directors of the Women’s Culinary Network and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Slow Food. She lives in Markham, Ontario with her husband and adolescent twins.