Did you know…that eating 1 oz of chocolate has health benefits? I know you may think that statement is crazy, but studies have shown that eating up to 1 oz of dark chocolate a day may provide health benefits. And this dark chocolate quinoa is even more packed with health goodness!!
Sugar has been getting much negative attention lately which may be justified since when sugar is eaten in large quantities or too frequently it can be unhealthy and lead to an increase in your waistline. However, dark chocolate, particularly those made with high percentages of cacao have less sugar in them and may be good for your heart.
What makes chocolate healthy?
Chocolate contains flavonol, a flavonoid which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body’s cells resist harm caused by free radicals that are formed through the natural process of our bodily functions. Research shows that flavonols are good for a healthy heart because they lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and help to decrease the likelihood of blood clots forming.
Another benefit of chocolate is an improvement in mood due to a boost in serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. Chocolate also contains some essential minerals needed by our bodies such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate varieties because it is less processed and usually contains lower levels of sugar. Processing strips cocoa of its flavonols, lowering its health benefits. Also, milk chocolate reduces the antioxidant effect of chocolate because the calcium in the dairy binds to the antioxidants.
Of course, these health benefits don’t mean you can eat all the chocolate you want and the best benefits from dark chocolate come when consumed in moderation. If you don’t like chocolate or feel like it may be tempting to overeat, flavonols are also found in other foods such as cranberries, apples, tea, red wine and onion.
Maximize the health benefit of eating chocolate:
- Select dark chocolate preferably with 60% or higher cacao
- Limit dark chocolate to a maximum of 1 oz per day
- Be careful of chocolate bars with extra ingredients which may be high in sugar or add additional calories
- Remember that total calories do count especially if you are trying to lose weight so be sure to not over do it
Make your own chocolate quinoa
I’ve previously made my own chocolate quinoa bark and found the process to be quite easy. Here is one of my favorite recipes. The caramelized quinoa makes the chocolate crispy and the hint of sea salt is a nice balance to the sweetness. Feel free to change it up by choosing your own healthy mix in such as chopped almonds, chopped peanuts, dried cranberries or raisins.
Enjoy your chocolate this Valentine’s Day and each time you eat that bite of chocolate just remember it is good for your heart.
Sea Salted Caramel & Chocolate Quinoa Bark
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 T turbinado sugar
- 2 T cacao nibs
- 7 ounces of dark chocolate 72% cacao
- 1/4 tsp of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400.
Making the sugared quinoa
- Spread quinoa on a sheet pan. Once oven is hot, place quinoa inside to toast. Check every two minutes until the quinoa is lightly golden. Allow the quinoa to cool.
- While the quinoa is cooking/cooling place the turbinado sugar in a pan over medium high heat to melt. Melting the sugar may take some time, just keep moving the sugar around. Once the sugar is melted, add the quinoa and mix.
- Transfer the quinoa-sugar mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; spread to a thin, even layer and allow to cool. Once the sugar quinoa mixture has cooled completely, place the mixture in a zip-top plastic bag; gently tap with a rolling pin to break the candy mixture up. Reserve 1/3 mixture; set aside.
Melting the chocolate
- The chocolate can be melted in the microwave or on top of the stove.
- Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 20% power for 15 seconds; remove bowl from microwave, and stir. Repeat as needed until the chocolate has melted and then remove. Allow the chocolate to stand for a minute or so until it is completed melted and is smooth. You may need to stir to create a smooth consistency.
- If you are using the stove top, it is best to melt the chocolate in a pan placed on top of a boiling pot of water (double boiler). Stir the chocolate until it is melted.
Mixing the chocolate
- Once the chocolate is melted, stir in cacao bits and quinoa mixture (except reserved 1/3 cup).
- Pour mixture into a baking dish or pan lined with parchment paper. Spread to 1/16-inch thickness. Sprinkle with reserved 1/3 cup quinoa and sea salt. Gently press to adhere.
- Freeze 10 minutes to set. Break bark into 12 pieces.
If you liked this post here are other chocolate recipes and desserts to consider cooking up!!!!
Cleveland Health Clinic
University of Michigan Integrative Medicine