Do you really need an excuse to eat chocolate? I don’t think so. But if you’re going to indulge, why not go for chocolate with a nutritional edge and enjoy the benefits of chocolate. Here’s how.
1. Go to the dark side of the chocolate aisle. Flavonoids are the healthy compounds in chocolate. They help your heart and they do this by lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate have the most flavonoids. Milk and Dutch chocolate don’t have as many. Some products now list the amount of cacao on the package, so the higher the percentage, the better.
2. Enjoy chocolate after a balanced meal. Don’t be fooled. Flavonoids do have health benefits, but no chocolate product is nutrient-rich. Lean meats have more protein than chocolate. Fruits, veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods have more vitamins and minerals. Your best bet is to enjoy chocolate after a meal that has foods from each of the groups.
3. Be size-wise about chocolate servings. It takes a very small piece of chocolate a day to keep the doctor away. A king-size candy bar is not a smart choice, even if the chocolate is very dark. Candy bars are high in calories, fat and sugar. Look for small portions, about ¼ ounce each. If you have a large bar, break it into small pieces.
4. Combine chocolate with fruit and nuts. Mix chocolate with fruit or nuts to multiply your health benefits. Dip a strawberry in dark chocolate. Enjoy chocolate-coated almonds for dessert. Make a snack mix with dried fruit, peanuts and bits of dark chocolate.
5. Savor every bite. When we savor our food, we are satisfied with smaller amounts. We eat with all of our senses. We smell our food’s aroma, feel its texture and taste its flavor. When we give chocolate the attention it deserves, that very small piece can be just the right size.
(Source: North Carolina Public Health, Nutrition Services Branch; National Nutrition Month, March 2011, Adapted by the Nutrition Services Branch from www.eatrightmontana.org)
Lori Wuellner is a Wyandotte County Extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, K-State Research and Extension, 1216 N. 79th St., Kansas City, Kan. Telephone 913-299-9300, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ultimate Chocolate Cookie
1 ¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 bar dark chocolate (2 ounces), grated
½ cup dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place oats in a food processor and process until the mixture becomes a powder.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered oats, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
4. In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars for 3 minutes on medium speed. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in grated chocolate, then add chocolate chips.
5. Roll or scoop dough into 1 1/2 –inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.
6. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
(Makes 26 cookies)
Nutrition information per serving: Calories- 130; fat- 6 g; carbohydrate- 9 g; fiber- 1 g; sodium- 45 mg