Heart-Healthy Chocolate Dessert RecipesHeart-Healthy Chocolate Dessert Recipes

It is February a time when chocolate moves to center stage because of Valentine's Day and Heart Health Awareness month. Yes, when it comes to matters of the heart, a discussion of chocolate is never far behind and for good reason. Chocolate is often given as a gift to those we love as a symbol of how much we care, and from a health perspective, chocolate contains cocoa which has many heart-healthy benefits as indicated below:

Cocoa contains high levels of antioxidants which help prevent cholesterol from oxidizing and free radicals from harming cells

Eating small amounts of dark chocolate on a daily basis has been shown to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure

LDL cholesterol or "bad" cholesterol can drop by as much as 10% with regular dark chocolate consumption

The saturated fat in chocolate is stearic acid which has little to no effect on cholesterol levels

Cocoa powder contains soluble fiber which helps lower LDL cholesterol

So, in celebration of Valentine's Day and Heart Health Awareness month, make it a point to savor the following rich-tasting, chocolatey, easy-to-prepare chocolate treats with the one you love. The following recipes will deeply satisfy while being healthy for your heart at the same time!

Most chocolate treats contain too little cocoa, too much refined white sugar, the wrong kinds of fat and very little in terms of nutritional value. The following chocolate treats contain such healthy ingredients as nut butter, natural sweeteners that are gentle on blood sugar or that have some nutritional value, and heart-healthy beans. You may be wondering how beans can be used in a delicious-tasting chocolate treat, but they can be. The following Fudgy Chocolate Brownie recipe which uses garbanzo beans instead of flour is a favorite of both adults and children (you'd never guess there were beans in this recipe!) as is the Nutty Chocolate Crisp recipe that follows.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 8 - 12 brownies

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups grain-sweetened chocolate chips
2 cups garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4 eggs
2/3 cup agave nectar or 1 ¼ cup date sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder

Directions:
In a small bowl melt chocolate chips in microwave for 2 minutes. Or place chocolate chips in a heat resistant bowl on top of a boiling pot of water until melted. In blender or food processor combine beans and eggs. Add sweetener, baking powder, and melted chips. Process until smooth. Pour batter into an approximately 9-inch non-stick pan or glass baking dish coated with a little bit of oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to cool, cut and serve.

NOTE: Eggs aren't bad for heart health as previously thought. In a large-scale study that was done a while back no link was found between the number of eggs eaten per week and an increase in heart disease.

Recipe printed with permission from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC

Nutty Chocolate Crisps
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Yields: 12 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice syrup
½ cup almond butter
½ cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips
3 cups brown rice crisp cereal

Directions:
Heat brown rice syrup and almond butter in a large skillet, over low heat until creamy. Stir in the chips until they melt. Remove from the heat and stir in rice crisps. Gently press into a baking dish and allow mixture to set until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Recipe printed with permission from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC

It is possible to enjoy sweets and be healthy at the same time. A healthy sweet treat contains at least some healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables (zucchini or squash for example), unsweetened fruit, rolled oats, whole grain brown rice, etc.; uses healthy fats like avocado, canola oil, and grapeseed oil; and sweetens naturally with sweeteners that either raise blood sugar levels less than refined white sugar or with sweeteners that have some nutritional value like date sugar which contains all the nutrition and fiber that is in the whole fruit.

Enjoy!
by Sandra Hoedemaker
References and Bibliography
To order your FREE audio recording "Top 3 Secrets to Lower Your Cholesterol Fast without Drugs or Drastic Dieting" visit www.cutcholesterolnow.com. You will learn how to lower your LDL cholesterol by 25% and triglycerides by 14% naturally and easily without deprivation or restriction.
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