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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

This Valentine’s Day: Try a Healthier Chocolate Makeover

Here it comes: Valentine’s Day— a blissful reason for roses.  For many, the holiday is also a reason to ride that bullet train straight to (uh-oh!) chocolate city.

Though chocolate in its most popular forms makes our hearts soar, it generally does the same to our blood sugar. It can also destroy diets and require the body to accommodate a laundry list of refined sugars, milk solids, alkali, artificial flavors, added caffeine, emulsifiers and other fillers. In fact, an actual Hershey’s chocolate bar contains only 4 to 10 percent chocolate, and even organic chocolate bars list raw cane sugar as a primary ingredient.

For a wholesome and tempting alternative, raw or organic chocolate, or cacao, (pron. kuh-KAH-oh), not cocoa, which comes from the tropical cacao plant and is available in nibs, beans and powder form online or from health food stores. It can be combined with healthy ingredients for the sweetest of natural treats. Using honey, maple syrup, agave or brown rice syrup to taste, sometimes in conjunction with walnuts, almonds, shredded coconut, natural peanut butter, raisins, or other dried fruit (read labels for added sugar when purchasing), cooking with raw cacao offers healthier options for candy, hot chocolate, brownies, and other desserts.

With raw cacao high in magnesium, sulfur and antioxidant flavonoids, its perceived health and medicinal properties have been trumpeted throughout history by everyone from Montezuma to French gastronome Brilat-Savarin. Substituting raw cacao for conventional, sugary chocolate or cocoa powder may yield beneficial results, even simply to satisfy a raging sweet tooth! Try the sweet and easy recipe below for a happy and healthier Valentine’s Day:

Raw Chocolate Bark

Ingredients:
Note: The ratio of cacao powder to cacao butter is 1:1; powder to maple syrup is about 3:1 or 4:1. Cacao powder and butter are available at many health food stores and online.

¼ cup raw organic cacao powder (4 Tbsp.)
¼ cup raw cacao butter (4 Tbsp.)
2-3 tbsp. maple syrup

Any combination of the following: pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, goji berries, hemp seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, natural peanut butter or almond butter, cinnamon.

Directions:
Melt cacao butter in heat safe glass container. Do that by placing container with butter into a pot containing 1 inch of water, on the stove. Heat slowly on medium heat to maintain cacao butter’s raw properties. You can also microwave.

Once melted, combine cacao butter and powder in mixing bowl and stir well. Add maple syrup and stir until smooth. Add more syrup to taste. Stir in nuts, seeds and dried fruit as desired.

Pour mixture onto parchment paper and let cool to harden. Room should be 75 degrees or cooler, or place chocolate mixture on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in refrigerator. Once cooled, break into pieces. Store in refrigerator; can also be frozen for several weeks.

4 comments

1 FoodMagick { 02.11.11 at 11:51 am }

D. – RIGHT! Did you know that two teaspoons of refined sugar is equal to about 6 feet of cane? (or something like that!)

Concentrated foods are not our friends at all! Raw cane sugar is an acceptable substitute for white sugar; brown sugar is also better… They’re just not as healthful alternatives as the ones I mentioned previously, because they do leave an acid ash after digestion. Honey, maple, raisin, and stevia do not.

2 D. { 02.09.11 at 4:29 pm }

Also, no matter what you hear on TV these days about the subject, sugar is NOT sugar. There’s nothing at all wrong with raw cane sugar and it’s not the same thing as refined, regular sugar. The uptake in the body is way different, but you can’t expect the corn sugar promotion people to tell you that! They hafta lie to sell their products so they change the name from HFCS to corn sugar. How uninspirational. It’s not even clever to those of us paying attention.

3 D. { 02.09.11 at 4:26 pm }

Never use agave. Regardless of how much hype they put to it, it’s not healthy stuff. Check out the web site at http://www.westonaprice.org and type agave into the search box. Then read, read, read!

4 FoodMagick { 02.07.11 at 3:53 pm }

Pure honey, raisin syrup, and stevia are also healthful sweetening options. Using these natural sweeteners in place of our usual sugars is one part of Regenerative Eating, which is eating a more natural diet in order to heal the body.

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