Why is it that we love chocolate so much? Is it the taste? Texture? Or does it go much deeper than that? It could be a feeling of euphoria that many of us feel when we eat which may be due to a chemical called phylethyalamine (PEA). This chemical helps release the brain chemical dopamine that is associated with the pleasure part of the brain.

In addition to the good feeling it provides, chocolate also has health promoting plant chemicals called polyphenols which provide benefits to our heart. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the better. Chocolate is rich in magnesium, copper, potassium, and manganese. It is one of the biggest contributors of copper in the American diet!

Some other things that you might not know about chocolate include that it contains a caffeine-like chemical called theobromine. The fat in cocoa butter is very high in a healthy polyunsaturated oleic acid and a saturated fat called stearic acid that can have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol.

We all know that too many chocolate desserts and candies can be a contributor to excess calories and the excess sugar in desserts can elevate blood sugar in people with diabetes. But eaten in moderation, chocolate can be a healthy part of our diet.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ways to get chocolate! Chocolate can be a healthy food in meal planning but remember to eat it mindfully, a little bit goes a long way!

One favorite of my favorite places where I love to go to get some handcrafted chocolate in Asheville, NC is French Broad Chocolate Lounge. A visit there is the ultimate chocolate experience. For people living out of town, it can ordered online for delivery. There are several specialty truffle boxes available. Because it is getting close to Valentine’s Day, I decided to purchase the Aphrodisiac Collection which includes an Indian Kulfi Truffle with a touch of cardamon and milk chocolate and the Cosmic Love Potion Truffle which contains some white chocolate and rose petals. These are two of my favorites although I have never met a French Broad truffle that I did not love. In addition to the exceptional chocolate and creative combinations. Jael and Dan work hard to source ethical ingredients for their products. So you can indulge with peace of mind! Savor your chocolate!

When you are in Asheville, make this one of your stops!

When you are in Asheville, make this one of your stops!

Chocolate bar library at the Chocolate Lounge!

Chocolate bar library at the Chocolate Lounge!

 

 

Here are a few chocolate treats that you can make at home!

Make this tiny cake for your Valentine!

Make this tiny cake for your Valentine!

Almond Date Chocolate Cake

I am usually the one who ends up eating the leftover dessert at my house, so I purchased a little six inch spring form pan that serves about 4 servings so we can have a serving of dessert now and another later. It also works well to share it with more people for an even smaller portion. This cake is full of whole ingredients like ground almonds, dates and dark chocolate. Makes 4 servings.

6 ounces chopped dates

1/4 cup butter

6 ounces dark chocolate

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 eggs beaten

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup ground almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Nutella spread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6 inch spring form pan. Grind almonds in a food processor. Place butter, dark chocolate, chopped dates and maple syrup in a sauce pan and cook on low heat until butter and chocolate are melted and dates are dissolved. Add almonds and vanilla extract. Place cake batter into cake pan. Bake about 30 minutes until the top of the cake springs bake slightly and a tooth pick comes out clean from the middle of the cake. Take out of the oven and loosen sides of cake from pan. Allow to cook almost completely and then take it out of pan and add to a cake plate. After cooled ice the top with a little Nutella.

I topped mine with a few of the French Broad truffles to decorate! If you look carefully, you can see how each truffle is decorated uniquely.

You can make these easy chocolate treats at home!

You can make these easy chocolate treats at home!

Chocolate Dipped Dried Fruit

Dried apples, figs, dates, apricots and semi-sweet dark and white chocolate were dipped in semi-sweet dark chocolate. Try this quick recipe at home with some of your friends but be prepared to get messy and have some fun!

After dipping the fruit, I left it to cool and then melted some white chocolate to drizzle over the top. After that I let the white chocolate cool, it was time to take a taste test! We decided since our candies contained the health benefits of dried fruit and chocolate that we should try a few. After that, I packed them up in a mason jar for a special Valentine treat for some of my Valentines. I hope that they enjoy the as much as my family did!

The chocolate dipped fruit is an elegant treat. When I bought the ingredients for the treats, I was inspired by some chocolate dipped figs at the store that were much more costly than how much it  it cost me to make my chocolate dipped figs.

Local apples and the figs can be dried in a dehydrator. Making an elegant treat with whole ingredients and eating it mindfully is an important practice in health. Make these treats with/and/or/for your favorite friends. This sweet is simple, tasty and healthy!

This chocolate, fruit dessert is so easy to make at home! Below is our cookie sheet cooling with our chocolate dipped fruit.

 

This chocolate, fruit dessert is so easy to make at home!

This chocolate, fruit dessert is so easy to make at home!

I hope that this blog post gave you some easy, delicious ways to make some Valentine treats that might be good for you at the same time! As a dietitian nutritionist in Asheville. I enjoy sharing ways to enjoy good food while staying healthy! That includes sharing healthy recipes for desserts for special occasions! I hope that you would love to stay in touch by signing up for my blog! That way you will not miss a single post! Enjoy these treats created lovingly by me!

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