The smell of just about any chocolate is enough to get me invigorated and peppy, and so finding this healthy, yet still-delicious superfood recipe made me want to jump for joy! I definitely need a little chocolate indulgence now and then, and you probably do, too. The good news is this recipe for a tasty chocolate bark will not only get your taste buds singing, but it will also give your skin a healthy glow and your heart a healthy boost!
It's all thanks to these stellar ingredients:
There are so many great things dark chocolate (with the right type and in the correct proportions!) can do for us, but we’ll stick to just a few. Flavanols, which are plant compounds naturally found in the cocoa bean, help promote blood flow and dilate vessels. This action helps to deliver nutrients throughout the body, including to the skin. A June 2006 study found that cocoa flavanols protect the skin from ultraviolet damage, increase blood flow to the skin, increase density and thickness of the skin, decrease water loss, and improve overall appearance of the skin. It’s also good for your heart health; studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It can even make you happy! Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you're falling in love (this explains so much). PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins.
It’s also got several important vitamins and minerals:
We’ve covered chia seeds before as a trendy health food, but there’s a lot to this seed’s story. There is a lot of buzz around chia’s weight loss power. Chia's stabilizing effect on blood sugar also fights insulin resistance which can be tied to an increase in belly fat. This type of resistance can also be harmful for your overall health. Chia seeds are packed with soluble fiber and are high in antioxidants, calcium, iron, manganese and phosphorous. A unique property of chia seeds is the ability to hold up to 12 times its weight in water. Soaked for 30 mins, the seeds will form a gel like substance. Researches believe this gel reaction also occurs in the stomach, forming a barrier, which means carbohydrates are broken down slowly. This makes the seeds popular among endurance athletes and also diabetics, who want a slow release energy source, as well as for extra hydration.
Good Fatty Nuts
Nuts are a great source of healthy, unsaturated fats. It's thought that the "good" fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels. They also have omega-3 fatty acids in abundance, which are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. All nuts also contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol, helps you feel fuller, and is thought to play a role in preventing diabetes. Add in nuts’ supply of Vitamin E, plant sterols, and l-arginine, and your heart will stay pumping at maximum efficiency!
- 10 ounces 70% cocoa bittersweet dark chocolate
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- ½ cup toasted walnut pieces
- ½ cup toasted pecan pieces
- ½ cup toasted almond slices
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Combine chocolate and coffee, place over a double boiler, heating on a low flame while stirring until chocolate is 3/4 melted.
- Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
- Mix in the toasted nuts and chia seeds.
- Spread mixture on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and chill until mixture sets, about 30 minutes.
- Break into pieces and serve. Enjoy!