The Many Health Benefits of Chocolate + Truffle Recipe
Chocolate! We know how much we love it, but do you know how good it is for you?
The fact is dark chocolate enhances mood and memory, as well as cognitive and vascular functioning. In recent studies, cocoa consumption has been linked to higher scores on cognitive tests. Chocolate can even help us deal with stress more effectively. A recent study involving stressed out college students demonstrated that the students who ate about ¾ of a small chocolate bar every day for two weeks were better able to manage their stress.
As it turns out, chocolate increases the endorphins throughout the brain that give us those luxurious pleasurable feelings and a sense of wellbeing. It also contains phenylethylamine, which enhances mood, alertness and the delightful, dizzy feeling of falling in love. Chocolate has a long history of being known as an aphrodisiac, from the Aztecs to the Romans. It is also anti-inflammatory, reduces blood pressure and increases heart health and longevity.
The cocoa that gives dark chocolate that haunting, addictive flavor is loaded with the memory-boosting antioxidants and powerful flavonoids.
Flavonoids, the largest nutrient family known to scientists, are endowed with uber antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antiviral properties, and also help maintain the health of small blood vessels and connective tissue. Examples of foods that are rich in flavonoids include onions, parsley, blueberries, bananas, red wine and, to our point here, dark chocolate. And from my point of view, the most powerful aspect of flavonoids, which not many people talk about, is that this group pushes the yum further.
One caveat: milk interferes with the body’s ability to access the power of flavonoids, so these benefits don’t really apply to milk chocolate. You gotta learn how to eat it dark!
It also helps to eat chocolate slowly and mindfully. A 2016 study demonstrated that chocolate consumption improved the mood of study participants but the most benefit was achieved in those who ate their chocolate mindfully.
Enough of the science! Let’s get to the recipe.
These easy to make truffles contain other smart, brain-boosting ingredients including dates, cherries, and walnuts, toasted coconut and curry. The dates act as the sweeteners, but they’re not only sweet, they’re loaded with fiber. Whenever you’ve got fiber with sweet you’re lowering the blood sugar rush. Studies suggest walnuts may boost memory. They’re also rolled in coconut with a little curry for a real grown-up treat.
Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffles
MAKES ABOUT 20 TRUFFLES • PREP TIME: 15 minutes • COOK TIME: 2 1/4 hours
- 2 Tbs. boiling water
- 2 ounces dark chocolate (64 to 72% cacao content), very finely chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup pitted and halved Medjool dates
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- sea salt
- 1/4 cup finely diced dried cherries
- 2 Tbs. shredded coconut
- 1/4 tsp. curry powder
- Stir the boiling water into the chopped chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Using a small whisk, stir until the chocolate is completely melted and glossy.
- Coarsely grind the walnuts in a food processor, then add the cocoa powder, dates, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and process for a minute.
- Then add the chocolate mixture and process until smooth, another minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir the cherries into the chocolate mixture.
- Cover and chill for approximately 2 hours, in the refrigerator or 20 minutes in the freezer until firm.
- On a plate, mix the coconut, curry powder, and a pinch of salt. Scoop up approximately 2 teaspoons of the chilled chocolate mixture and roll it into a smooth ball between your palms, then roll it in the curried coconuts to coat.
- Repeat with the remaining mixture, then place the truffles in an airtight container and chill thoroughly before serving.
Cook's Note: If you want to give the truffles a golden hue, toast the coconut in a 300°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. For a more distinctive taste, add another 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.