According to a recent study published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, “Regular dietary intake of plant-derived foods and beverages reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Among many ingredients, cocoa might be an important mediator. Recent research demonstrates a beneficial effect of cocoa on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular and platelet function.”
“High-quality chocolate is better than medicine,” says Terri Mitchell, a marketing consultant at Guthrie’s Originals, who makes Sin in a Tin Chocolates here in Pensacola.
DARK CHOCOLATE CREME ANGLAISE
Recipe by Chef William Guthrie. Creme Anglaise is a highly versatile custard that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you can pour it into a baked pastry shell and top with strawberries or raspberries. Or you can eat it as a pudding by simply serving as is with a little whipped cream.
1½ cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk sugar into egg yolks until sugar is dissolved. Heat milk and cream in noncorroding saucepan just to a boil.
Take it off the heat and add some of the hot liquid to the yolks, whisking constantly. Keep adding more hot liquid a little at a time while whisking constantly, until all of it is transferred to the eggs.
Transfer the mixture to a double-boiler and cook, stirring constantly until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. It’s ready when you can draw a trail across the back of the spoon and the edges don’t run together.
Add vanilla. One teaspoon of Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste will add wonderful flavor and vanilla bean specks.
Strain into a glass bowl sitting in a larger bowel of ice cubes to quickly cool it down and stop the cooking.
Cover and refrigerate. Some recipes call for covering the creme itself in plastic wrap.
“It can lower blood sugar and increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. That’s proven scientifically. But the operative words here are ‘high quality’,” Mitchell says.
“Cheap chocolate is cut with things like PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate) that don’t get you where you want to go,” she says.
The best way to have a healthy relationship with chocolate is to choose bars that have a cacao content of 70 percent or higher, and try to get organic, fair trade wherever possible.
And finally, don’t eat a lot of it. You want to think of it more like a supplement to your diet.
BERRY BERRY CHOCOLATE
Recipe by Heather Culpepper.
1 cup organic, local strawberries
1 cup organic, local blueberries
1 (100-gram) fair trade, organic dark chocolate bar; 70-87 percent cacao
1 ounce pecans
1 ounce walnuts
This recipe is high in antioxidants and omega 3s from the nuts. This easily replaces breakfast cereal for those looking for less processed, gluten-free morning meals.
CHOCOLATE COCONUT BITES
Recipe from Christy Ann Krail-Javier, R.N., BSN Certified Sports and anti-inflammatory nutrition specialist, Gulf Breeze.
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup Manuka honey
1/2 cup raw almond butter
1/2 cup crushed raw pecans
2/3 cup raw, shredded and unsweetened coconut flakes
Mix all ingredients. Roll into 1/2-inch balls, and roll in the extra coconut to coat.
PEPPER’S PERFECT MORNING MOCHA RECIPE
Recipe by Heather “Pepper” Culpepper.
6 ounces whole organic, pastured milk
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa, preferably raw
1/8 teaspoon pure Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon organic, fair trade turbinado sugar
Dash organic chili powder
In a pot, bring milk to a boil then turn down to low heat. Stir in cocoa, vanilla extract, sugar and spices. Stir continuously for 3-5 minutes then turn heat off. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.