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Food of the Month

Dark Chocolate

Heart Health

Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Good for Your Brain

Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke. Eating a piece of chocolate can possibly reduce stress levels; it works by stimulating the production of endorphins that may give rise to a happy feeling.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Flavonoid compounds in dark chocolate exert strong anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting the same enzyme that is the target of over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

Helps Control Blood Sugar

Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes. The antioxidants in dark chocolate may help the body use its insulin more efficiently to control blood sugar. This, in turn, helps to lower blood sugar levels naturally. Also, dark chocolate ranks low on the glycemic index, which means it won’t spike your sugar levels.

Cough Relief

One study found that chocolate quieted coughs almost as well as codeine, due to the theobromine it contains. This chemical, responsible for chocolate’s feel-good effect, may suppress activity in a part of the brain called the vagus nerve.

Diarrhea Relief

Both South American and European cultures have a history, dating back to the 16th century, of treating diarrhea with cocoa. Modern-day science has shown they were onto something. A study found that cocoa flavonoids bind to a protein that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestine; this results in relief from diarrhea

Tips and Serving Ideas

Read more…

Tips and Serving Ideas


  • Mix cocoa powder with other dry spices and use as a dry rub for meats and poultry or as a seasoning over roasted vegetables. Spices that pair well with chocolate are: chipotle, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and chili pepper.
  • Add shaved bittersweet chocolate to tomato-based pasta sauces, BBQ, or chili recipes for a smoky, slow-cooked flavor.
  • Mix a little cocoa powder in with vinegar-based salad dressing to help lower the acidity.
  • Try dipping fresh fruit in melted dark chocolate for a divine dessert—Mmmmm.
  • Add cacao nibs to a smoothie for an antioxidant boost.

Special Considerations:

Qualities to Look For…

What qualities should you look for in dark chocolate?

  • ≥ 60% cocoa
  • Made from cocoa butter instead of fats such as palm oil. Although cocoa butter does contain significant amounts of saturated fat in the form of stearic acid, it has been shown to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, unlike the saturated fat in palm oil.
  • Made without the use of “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils, which are known to negatively impact cholesterol.
  • Darker is better: phytochemicals, like flavonoids, contribute to pigment. More flavonoids means darker chocolate and potentially greater health benefits.
  • Chocolate is only as good as its ingredients; look for dark chocolate made from organic or fairly traded cocoa beans.

Milk vs. Dark Chocolate

Milk vs. Dark Chocolate

  • Milk binds to antioxidants in chocolate, making them unavailable; therefore, milk chocolate is not a good antioxidant source.
  • To get the benefits of antioxidants, avoid drinking milk with dark chocolate.
  • White chocolate contains no cocoa solids and therefore is not a good source of antioxidants.


1. Roasted Almonds Drizzled with Chocolate

Roasted Almonds Drizzled with Chocolate


  • 3 cups almonds
  • 2 oz. baking chocolate (or use homemade dark chocolate; see below)


To Make:

Place almonds on a tray in a cold oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 12–20 minutes. When done, lay on wax paper.

Melt the chocolate, or use recipe below. Drizzle over almonds. Cool in the refrigerator to harden.


Homemade Dark Chocolate


  • 1/2 cup natural organic cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1–2 tablespoons pure raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: extracts, cocoa nibs, nuts, or other add-ins


To Make:

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well mixed and smooth. Drizzle over almonds as indicated above, or…

  • Pour the chocolate into candy molds to make chocolate candy.
  • Put the chocolate into a cake decorator (or plastic bag with the edge cut off) and pipe out chocolate chips.
  • Pour the chocolate into wax or parchment paper and make bars.

Freeze until hardened – about 30 minutes.

Store the chocolate in the refrigerator.

2. Vegetarian Chocolate Chili

Vegetarian Chocolate Chili


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice, or one 16-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

To Make:

In a stockpot, over medium heat, cook the oil, garlic, onion, and green pepper until slightly softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, vegetable broth, cumin, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Before serving, stir in the chocolate until melted.

3. Double Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Double Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Serves 2

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • If desired garnish with shaved chocolate and/or dust with cocoa powder


To Make:

Peel avocados, discard pits and put in blender. Melt chocolate until smooth add to blender with all other ingredients. Blend for 1 minute or until completely smooth pour into dessert cups and garnish if desired. Enjoy!

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