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Chocolate-lover month

Updated: Feb 12

Chocolate-lover month

February 8, 2021 | Hui Hui Lee, RD/LD


(Image credit: The New York Times, 2020)


Hello! Where are my chocolate-lover buddies out there? Let’s claim February our month for chocolate? Who is with me here? Do you know chocolate is derived from cocoa beans? There are many different types of chocolate out there: dark, milk, white chocolate. The types are determined by the different concentrations of chocolate liquor (the combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids), cocoa solids (mostly ground into cocoa powder), milk, sugar, cocoa butter (the natural fat found in the cocoa beans). My all-time favorite chocolate is dark chocolate, which I personally think is just like our lives (bittersweet). Dark chocolate contains higher concentration of chocolate liquors, which is at least 35%. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is made with lesser chocolate liquors (at least 10%), and is mixed with at least 12% of whole milk. White chocolate is not really a chocolate, because it does not contain chocolate solids and cocoa powder (Amidor, 2016).


Nutrition 101 of dark chocolate: 1 oz of dark chocolate (with 60% to 69% of pure cocoa) provides 162 kcal, 11 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 15 g carbohydrates, and 2 g protein. It also contains other nutrients, like manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, and calcium (Amidor, 2016). If you take note of the calorie, total fat, and saturated fat, then you really want to be mindful about the portion size.






So why is it so important to understand the difference between the types of chocolate? It is the content of cocoa. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated the pure cocoa. Cocoa is packed with flavanols (which is well-known for its antioxidant properties). Flavonols in cocoa beans may have benefits of improving blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, and slowing down the atherosclerotic process (process of plaque buildup around arteries) (Webb, 2012).


What can you do with a block of dark chocolate (70% or higher of cocoa), or a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips? I am sharing both savory and sweet chocolate recipes here, which I highly recommend you to try!




Avocado brownies: If you are looking for an easy and healthier version of brownies, this recipe is a keeper. I made several of the modifications to the recipe: (1) adding a handful of toasted walnuts to the mixture; (2) cutting back on the amount of brown sugar, then added ½ cup (or maybe more) of maple syrup. According to my taste testers, the texture of brownies is not the same as the regular brownies, it is very gooey. Walnuts help to improve the overall texture of the brownies. The recipe is adapted from Detoxinista.





Avocado truffles: If you need some guilt-free sweet treats at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and think baking brownies is too much hassle, try making avocado truffles instead. It is definitely my type of chocolate treat! The recipe is adapted from Gimme delicious.




Steak with chocolate port sauce: The steak was prepared by our DRH Chef Brendan, with the recipe adapted from The Beef. It's What's For Dinner. I don’t eat red meat, therefore I had my coworker (Jessica) to taste test the steak for me. Per Jessica, the sauce may taste better if we cut back on the amount of salt. My best advice is to taste the sauce while you are cooking, make adjustments as needed!


(the ingredients sponsored by DRH Food and Nutrition Department)




Chicken mole: The recipe adapted from the forked spoon. Prior to trying out the Mexican mole sauce, I never thought dark chocolate could be used for cooking and, even better, it tastes SO GOOD! Mexican mole sauce is very flavorful (a little sweet (bittersweet), a little tangy, and a little spicy). I have to agree with Jessica Randhawa that in order to prepare a decent Mexican mole sauce, we need A LOT of spices, but I promise you that it's definitely worth your time. I was kinda in a rush gathering the ingredients prior to making the dish, therefore there were a few ingredients I kinda skipped or substituted with other ingredients. For example, I omitted margarine; substituted all the dried peppers with some chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (not an entire 7oz can, I adjusted the amount of chipotle pepper per my preference). I also added about a tablespoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt to the sauce.



(the ingredients sponsored by DRH Food and Nutrition Department)



References

Amidor, T. (2016). Ask the expert: Chocolate's health benefits. Today’s dietitian, 18(2), 10. Retrieved from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0216p10.shtml

The New York Times (2020). White, dark, and milk chocolate [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/dining/how-to-eat-chocolate.html

Webb, D. (2012). Mining the riches of dark chocolate. Today’s dietitian, 14(2), 24, Retrieved from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020612p24.shtml


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