Holley Johnson Grainger
February 11, 2011

 
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, my mind is on one thing...chocolate! Smooth, sweet, creamy chocolate is a year-round treat for me but something about this time of year makes it even more unforgettable. The good thing about my relationship with chocolate is that it isn't snobby. While I prefer a rich piece of very dark chocolate, I'll usually resort to any form of chocolate I can get my hands on be it a small handful of dark chocolate chips, a chocolate-flavored protein bar, a few malt balls from the dispenser at the grocery store, or a squirt of chocolate syrup in a glass of milk.

The dietitian in me would be remiss if I didn't take a quick second though to sing not only the praises of chocolate's flavor but also its benefits, specifically, dark chocolate. Just an ounce each day of the superfood can reduce the risk of blood clots, lower blood pressure, sharpen problem solving skills, help muscle fatigue, improve skin, and (perfect for Valentine's Day) act as an aphrodisiac. The important thing to note is that I'm talking about dark chocolate, and the darker the better. Dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate and more of the healthy flavonoids. Choose solid chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa (the higher the better but over 70% is a good choice) or unsweetened cocoa powder. And of course, it's important to remember that while chocolate does have many benefits, it is caloric so include just a small amount (about an ounce of dark daily) into your healthy lifestyle.

Here are some of my favorite recipes featuring dark chocolate. I hope you'll fall in love with these too!

 
Dark Chocolate Soufflés with Warm Fudge Sauce

 


Dark Chocolate-Chunk Brownie

 
Intense Hot Chocolate

 


Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse

 
Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet

 

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