Help Your Skin Glow With This Tasty Chocolate Treat Recipe
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 the skin.
A 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 the 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 to 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, help 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!
Conscious Cooking: Mushroom Broth
Sipping Broths are all the rage in the “foodie-world,” but broth – or stock – has been a big deal in the culinary world for a long time. The earliest form of stock was probably made around the same time that humans began boiling water. It’s a known fact that some of the oldest recipes are the simplest, and therefore they are most likely to be passed on throughout history. Many probably started from the same place, the same idea, the same accident. Someone, somewhere, a long time ago dropped their scraps into a pot of water because they were either curious or desperately needed to eat and tried to make the most of what they had. And that led to stock, which led to soup, which led to stew, which led to gravy, which led to sauce, which led to everything we eat today, in some way, shape or form. But the original survived as stock.
Sipping Broth: Stock That Can Stand Alone
Every good chef knows how to make a stock, whether it be beef, chicken, fish, or some variation of vegetable; but every great chef knows how to make a broth that can be eaten on its own–without anything fancy to cover it up or hide it from the world–just a spoon and maybe a piece of bread. And that’s what happened with the sipping broth trend. Some trendy restaurant decided to serve their beef broth on its own and people went crazy over it.
At first I was slightly annoyed by this trend (“Why are people drinking broth? It’s meant to be cooked with!”), but then I realized that if people were buying broth to drink, they would eventually be looking for ways to make their own. Broth is, after all, one of the simplest and quickest ways to nourish the body. Because of its long, slow, cook time, the water in stock is able to procure every possible nutrient out of every ingredient within the pot. A slower cooking time means that most of the things that get broken down during our digestion process happen in the pot instead of our bellies, this allows our bodies to better absorb the nutrients in the stock. It means healthier eating habits, and full, happy bellies. The more people who know how to make a good broth, the better.
Taking Stock of Mushrooms
So let’s talk stock. A great stock has a deep earthy quality to it, a slight oiliness, and silky flavor. The best kind of stock, in my humble opinion, is made with mushrooms–just plain, old mushrooms. Mushrooms are incredible. They have a healing power. They have intricate root systems, they are made up of beautiful bacteria, they are fungi, they pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and they can grow on anything that is fertile enough to host them. Mushrooms have a meatiness to them, and they are full of a natural umami flavor (“umami” is considered the fifth flavor profile that our palate detects, and is identified as both sweet and savory), which makes them perfectly nourishing for a delicious stock. They add depth and earthiness to beef stock, so why not take the bones out of the equation and give the humble mushroom its turn in the spotlight?
Mushroom Sipping Broth
This recipe calls for many nutrient-rich and flavorful ingredients for a reason: it is meant to be eaten, or sipped on, by itself. Though, I would not frown upon using it as a base for a soup, or stew, or even as a substitute for water when cooking rice or quinoa–by all means, cook with it!. That’s what broth is meant for, after all.
- 18 oz. Button Mushrooms
- 1 Medium White Onion
- 1 whole bulb of Garlic
- 3 Dried Mushrooms
- 1 Small piece of Kombu Seaweed
- 1 tsp crushed Red Pepper
- 0.5 Cup of Sherry
- 4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 5-7 Cups Water
Chop the mushrooms into quarters. Slice the onion into strips. Peel a whole head of garlic, separating each individual clove. Crush each clove with the side of your knife. Remove and discard the paper-skin covering the flesh. Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic into the pot along with all of the other ingredients, water should be added last. While adding the water, be mindful of how much broth you would like to have and add about half of a cup more than that amount.
Place the pot on the lowest heat possible and let it come to a simmer, once the water is simmering remove the Kombu from the pot. Allow the rest of the ingredients to stay at a low simmer for 1-1.5 hours, covered. Do not let the stock come to a boil as this will produce a cloudy and separated stock. The gentler the simmer, the better. Stir occasionally. When you are ready, pour the broth into a large bowl through a colander and let it cool to room temperature. Store the broth in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.