Make Your Own Healthy Chocolates: Dark Chocolate Cashew Bark

14733377_sPlanning to make a special treat for your Valentine?  Indulge their taste buds by making your own healthy decadent dark chocolate cashew snack. With its delicious taste of dark chocolate, they won’t even suspect that it’s full of dried fruit and nuts that are good for them.

Dark chocolate has many healthy benefits that are extensively being studied by scientists.

 The Quality of your Chocolate Matters

You no longer have to feel guilty for sneaking that piece of chocolate. But, wait a minute, only if it is good quality dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. Most inexpensive chocolate bars and candies are made with milk chocolate that is loaded with fillers like oil, milk ingredients and corn syrup.  Dark chocolate has a stronger taste, which come from the beneficial antioxidants that are derived from the cocoa bean. If you want to eat the best chocolate, you will notice a price difference. As with any good food such as cheese, wine and olive oil, the higher the quality, the higher the price.  Expect to pay $2-4 for a large bar of dark chocolate, especially if it is fair-trade or organic.  But trust me, once you get over the cost and taste it, you will not go back to the cheap stuff.

Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

So what makes dark chocolate so healthy?  The cocoa bean contains many phytonutrients that are beneficial at keeping our bodies healthy.  Here are just a few of the studied health benefits of dark chocolate:

  • Full of Minerals: dark chocolate contains magnesium, iron, potassium and copper
  • Antioxidant-rich: full of antioxidants, dark chocolate may help against the oxidative effects of free radical damage
  • Good for Your Heart: studies have shown that a small piece of dark chocolate 2-3 times per week could lower your blood pressure

Chocolate – the Feel Good Factor

Ever wondered why chocolate makes you feel so good?  Well science shows that chocolate contains chemicals that affect the brain.  In fact it contains phenylethylamine, the same substance that your brain makes when you feel “in love”.  This substance has the effect on the brain of releasing more endorphins, which are the “feel good” neurotransmitters.  This is an even better reason to enjoy chocolate with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.

Dark Chocolate Cashew Bark Recipe

Ingredients:

12 oz (1.5 cups) of dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup cashews, chopped
½ cup peanuts or pumpkin seeds
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
½ tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Take a square baking pan and line it with wax paper.
  2. Mix all dried fruit and nuts in a bowl.
  3. Take a large pot and fill it half way with water.  Bring the water to a simmer.
  4. Place a large metal bowl over the pot and place the chocolate in the bowl.
  5. Let the chocolate melt and stir in the vanilla and half of the fruit/nut mixture.
  6. Using a spatula spread the chocolate mixture onto the wax paper.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and fruit on top of the chocolate and press it down with the spatula.
  8. Place pan in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until it hardens.
  9. Break chocolate into pieces.

I hope you enjoy this delicious treat! Let us know how it turned out and don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog too via the commentluv feature here on the site.

Now you can feel good knowing that dark chocolate also healthy, in moderation of course.

Happy Valentine’s,

Stephanie

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