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January 2014

More Reasons To Love Chocolate
By Cheryl Forberg

If you love cocoa and chocolate as much as I do, read on! Cocoa beans are among the richest sources of antioxidants called flavonoids and polyphenols—similar to those found in wine—which benefit both your physical and mental health: I love to bake for friends and family, and knowing that some recipes contain cocoa (and all its benefits), makes them even sweeter.


Protect your Heart
Flavonoids can lower your risk of heart attacks and stroke by helping to reduce the blood’s ability to clot.

Quell Stress
Eating dark chocolate daily reduced stress hormone levels in people who had high anxiety levels in a 2009 study conducted by scientists in Switzerland. Researchers measured stress levels of 30 healthy adults daily over two weeks and found that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily reduced stress hormone levels in those who had high anxiety levels. (Just be sure to account for the 235 calories that 1.4 ounces of chocolate delivers—or you may be stressed to see extra pounds creeping on.)

Fight Fatigue
Cocoa may help ward off fatigue as well. A small 2010 study in the UK found that polyphenols—the group of antioxidant class that includes flavonoids—helped sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome combat symptoms, including anxiety and depression.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, why not give your loved one a special treat made with cocoa. Not only will it liven the taste buds, but it will provide so many other benefits as well! Nothing better than the delicious, loving gift of health!

AntioxiDO
Use natural or non-alkalized unsweetened cocoa powder when possible. There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder, alkalized (Dutched) and natural or non-alkalized. Both are rich in the antioxidant compounds polyphenols; however some of these healthy treasures are lost when cocoa powder is Dutched, a process to remove its acidity and make it more neutral. Experiment with both kinds of cocoa powder to see which you prefer.

AntioxiDON’T
Trade that box of chocolate for a rich cup of cocoa. Alas, just because cocoa delivers healthy benefits doesn’t mean you should lunge for that heart-shaped box of candy. The high sugar and fat content of most chocolates will outweigh the benefits of cocoa. Remember the purer the form of cocoa, the more cocoa solids it has, and the more antioxidants it delivers. Instead, heat up a rich cup of cocoa using low-fat milk and honey or agave nectar.

This recipe whips together in a snap if you have a chocolaty sweet tooth but only a couple of minutes to spare. It only yields a handful of truffles, because these are so addictive it’s hard to eat just one—but you can easily scale up for a larger batch.

Chocolate Red Walnut Truffles
Makes 4 truffles

Ingredients for Chocolate Red Walnut Truffles


½ cup Dates, chopped
¼ cup Melissa’s Red Walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 tablespoon Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder + additional for rolling (optional)
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Water (optional)

Combine the dates, red walnuts, and 1 tablespoon cocoa in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the vanilla and pulse a few more times until the mixture just pulls together. If the dates are very dry, add the water.

Combine the dates, red walnuts, and 1 tablespoon cocoa in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the vanilla and pulse a few more times until the mixture just pulls together. If the dates are very dry, add the water.

Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and shape into 4 “truffles” with a 2-tablespoon scoop.

Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and shape into 4 “truffles” with a 2-tablespoon scoop. Roll in extra cocoa powder, if desired. Try to eat just one!

Roll in extra cocoa powder, if desired. Try to eat just one!

Per truffle
110 calories, 5 g total fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 18 g total carbohydrates (14 g sugars), 2 g fiber, 3 g protein