Chocolate Health Benefits and Recipe
Most people enjoy giving and receiving chocolates, but sometimes these tasty treats get a bad rap. Luckily, science shows that eating chocolate in small amounts is not only delicious, but has many health benefits associated with it. So, what is in chocolate that makes it healthy? The not-so-secret ingredient is known as cacao, and that is also what gives chocolate its characteristic taste. The cacao seed comes from a South American evergreen tree, and is used to make chocolate, cocoa, and cocoa butter.
Cacao is packed with healthy antioxidant compounds called flavanols. Antioxidants are chemicals that defend the body from free radicals, and are found mostly in fruits and vegetables. Free radicals in our body have been shown to cause cell damage which means a diet filled with antioxidant-rich foods will help your body better defend itself. Many studies have also shown that the chemicals in cacao are anti-inflammatory and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
However, if you have ever tasted unsweetened baking chocolate or cocoa you know that cacao on its’ own is extremely bitter and chalky. To solve this problem candy makers add milk, butter, and a lot of sugar to chocolate, which may make it delicious but not necessarily great for our health. Adding all of these ingredients also diminishes the antioxidant effects of cacao. So how can you get the most health benefits from chocolate? You can start by choosing dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate whenever possible. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cacao powder in it, and therefore more antioxidants. Studies have continually shown that a small amount of dark chocolate per day is part of a heart-healthy diet.
So enjoy dark chocolate and its’ health benefits with this easy, antioxidant rich recipe for friends and family!
Chocolate Drizzled Fruit Skewers
Makes ~10 kabobs
1 package of semisweet dark chocolate chips
1 package of strawberries washed and dried (use a paper towel to pat them dry)
1/2 pineapple cut up into small pieces
1/4 bunch of grapes
2-3 bananas diced
2 apples cut into small pieces
**Feel free to choose any 5 fruits to make the kabobs. This is only a suggestion.
Wax paper or parchment paper
Microwave safe glass bowl
Long bamboo skewers
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper
- Begin making fruit kabobs by alternately threading fruits onto the skewers (make sure to leave about 1-2 inches of room at the end of the skewer so you can still hold them)
- Line the kabobs on the baking sheet
- In the microwave-safe glass bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for 30 seconds; stop and stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Repeat this until smooth.
- Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the kabobs. Make sure to do this step as fast as possible to prevent the chocolate in your bowl from hardening.
- Refrigerate the fruit kabobs on the baking sheet until the chocolate is firm (at least 30 minutes).