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Health

Five Delicious & Heart-Healthy Chocolate Recipes

July 7 is World Chocolate Day! Here are reasons to celebrate: Dark chocolate is soothing and satisfying, and may have health benefits including some for heart health.

6/29/2021

July 7th is World Chocolate Day! Yes, that absolutely grants you permission enjoy some chocolate. Of course, many of us (self included) celebrate the awesomeness of chocolate year-round. And, if enjoyed in moderation as part of a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet, a chocolate treat is most-likely fine.

Benefits of Chocolate Types

According to the American Heart Association, most chocolate falls into one of three categories: milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. Chocolate's darkness is determined by the proportion of cocoa solids made from cocoa beans, mixed with cocoa butter and sugar.

Milk chocolate, the most popular type in America, typically contains about 10 percent cocoa liquor – the paste made from ground, roasted, shelled and fermented cocoa beans that contains both nonfat cocoa solids and cocoa butter – compared with a minimum of 35 percent found in dark chocolate. Consumers can tell how much cocoa liquor is in a dark chocolate bar by looking for the "percent cacao" figure on the label. Cacao is the raw form of chocolate, while cocoa is the heated version of cacao.

Chocolate and almonds may help fight heart disease.

White chocolate, however, contains only cocoa butter – no cocoa solids – combined with sugar and other ingredients. (And for many people, it's not really considered a chocolate at all.)

A standard bar of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cacao contains about 600 calories and 24 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutrient database. Milk chocolate contains roughly the same number of calories but twice the sugar.

The amount of cocoa solids in dark chocolate is important because it can be an indicator of the amount of dietary flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and certain drinks. Research suggests consuming more dietary flavonoids is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults.

Chocolate Recipes

Check out our picks for the best chocolate-themed recipes. We've got you covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

1. Avocado-Dark Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

Move over avocado toast... there's a new, sweeter breakfast choice! Avocado adds richness to these chocolaty doughnuts (and is a surprise ingredient in the dark chocolate glaze).

Avocado and chocolate combine for a heart-healthy breakfast.

Donut ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour (sifted) OR 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (sifted)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar substitute
  • 1 cup fat-free milk or unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil OR 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Glaze ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pure dark cacao (chopped)
  • 1/2 medium ripe avocado, mashed (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk or unsweetened almond or soy milk

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons pistachio nuts (chopped, unsalted) OR 2 tablespoons almonds (slivered, unsalted)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together 1/2 cup avocado and the egg until smooth. Add the sugar substitute. Beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
  4. Whisk in 1 cup milk, the oil, and vanilla until incorporated.
  5. Pour the avocado mixture into the flour mixture. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the ingredients are well combined. Use a spatula to stir in any of the dry mixture that remains on the sides or bottom of the bowl.
  6. Lightly spray a 12-cavity doughnut pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the wells, filling each three-fourths full (about 1/4 cup in each). Don’t cover the center hole.
  7. Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Let cool slightly.
  8. Place a large wire rack on a large baking sheet. Turn out the doughnuts onto the rack.
  9. In a small bowl, microwave the cacao on 100 percent power (high) for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave. Stir until fully melted.
  10. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/4 cup avocado into the cacao until very smooth. Beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons milk.
  11. Spread 1 tablespoon of glaze over the top of each doughnut. Sprinkle with the pistachios.

For nutrition details, click here.

2. Gluten-Free Avocado Chocolate Pancakes

You won’t miss the flour in these gluten-free, chocolatey, sweet pancakes that the whole family will love.

Chocolate for breakfast can be healthy!

Ingredients

  • 1 banana (mashed)
  • 1 fresh avocado (halved, pitted, peeled, mashed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Combine banana, avocado, eggs, cocoa powder and sugar until blended. Let stand 15 minutes to thicken.
  2. Lightly spray a large non-stick skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium heat.
  3. Spoon mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, onto skillet and cook 1 minute until browned. Turn and cook additional 1 minute or until cooked through.

For nutrition details, click here.

3. Turkey Breast with Mole Sauce

If you enjoy a good "concoction," which is what the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) word molli means, you’ll enjoy this dish. Many traditional Mexican dishes use mole (MOH-lay), a rich, dark sauce that usually includes chocolate. To reduce the saturated fat, this recipe uses cocoa powder instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon canola or corn oil and 1 teaspoon canola or corn oil, divided use
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast (all visible fat discarded)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the turkey breast for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until the turkey registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the turkey to an ungreased 1-quart baking dish, discarding the cooking liquid. Set aside the turkey.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally.
  4. In a food processor or blender, process the onion mixture and the remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour the mixture over the turkey. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

For nutrition info, click here.

4. Chocolate Avocado-Chia Pudding

Creamy avocado and chia seeds add a healthy boost to this luscious pudding dessert.

Plant a seed -- chia seed, that is -- of heart-healthy living.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted, chopped almonds or walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a food processor or blender, process all the ingredients except the almonds until smooth.
  2. Transfer the pudding to serving dishes.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the chia seeds to thicken.
  4. Just before serving, sprinkle with the almonds if desired.

For nutritional info, click here.

5. Raspberry Chocolate Mini Macarons

This healthier version of these French cookies gets their traditional nutty flavor from almond flour and their sweetness from stevia rather than sugar. The tart smooth filling is the perfect complement to the sweet, chewy cookies.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup stevia sugar blend
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 10 drops chocolate-flavored liquid stevia sweetener
  • 1 cup raspberries OR 1 cup unsweetened, frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon stevia sweetener or 1 packet stevia sweetener

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, process the stevia sugar blend and cornstarch for 40 to 50 seconds, or until the mixture has a powdery texture (like confectioners’ sugar).
  3. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl. With an electric or hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the egg whites for 1 minute, or until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes. or until soft peaks form. Gradually add the stevia sugar blend mixture, beating for one minute, or until stiff peaks form (the peaks don’t fall when the beaters are lifted).
  4. In a second medium bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Sift again. Pour the flour mixture into the egg whites. Add the liquid stevia sweetener. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg whites, using about 30 strokes, or until no flour is visible.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round tip (between ¼-inch and ½-inch wide), or if using a disposable piping bag, cut a ½-inch hole at the pointed tip. Pipe the batter on the parchment paper into 1-tablespoon round portions (about 1-inch in diameter), leaving 2 inches between each, piping a total of 20 macarons.
  6. Lift the baking sheet about two inches from the counter and drop it. Repeat four times. (This will help release any air bubbles that may be in the batter.) Let stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the humidity of the room). The batter should form a thin skin and feel slightly tacky.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are set. Let the macarons cool thoroughly (about 1 hour).
  8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the raspberries with a fork. Stir in the yogurt and stevia sweetener.
  9. Once the macarons have cooled, place ten of them flat-side up on a cutting board or sheet of wax paper. Spread 1 tablespoon of the filling on each. Top with the remaining macarons.

For nutrition details, click here.

Courtesy of the AHA

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