Saying, “I Heart You” on Valentine’s Day

By on February 11, 2013

By Jennifer Cote –

Sharing Heart-Healthy Recipes for Chocolate: True Love!

We’ll still make our usual Valentine’s Day chocolate torte this year–a decadent butter/sugar/chocolate concoction. But I must say, I’ve been more preoccupied with my latest project: “Healthy Truffles”.

There are varying levels of “healthy”. Some of us are comforted to know that the semi-sweet chocolate we just ate is a tad more nutritious than milk chocolate. Others among us might go a few steps farther, making confections using raw cacao nibs, virgin coconut oil, and red palm oil (all extremely nutritious and beneficial).

Typically, the darker the chocolate, the more cacao it contains, which is high in flavonoids, which can help regulate blood pressure and prevent heart disease. (Is this why chocolate and hearts go together on Valentine’s Day?!)

Chocolate is also rich in antioxidants, and contains a healthy sort of fat. Yes, even though it’s monounsaturated, that’s the very kind of fat that can improve the immune system, and brain functioning. I feel smarter already, just thinking of eating chocolate.

When recent developments with my mom suggested a potential Alzheimer’s diagnosis (which, thankfully, was not correct), research led to two key healthy ingredients that might help with age-related decreases in brain function. Coconut oil and red palm oil can both nourish the brain and keep the blood circulating, relieving inflammation even (which has been linked to hardening of the arteries too). Red Palm Oil is also loaded with carotenes and tocotrienols (a lesser-known component of Vitamin E).

Chocolate truffles have been a welcome afternoon treat lately, keeping the metabolism going at a time when might energy dip. I’ve tried making them with both coconut oil, and red palm oil. The latter is a unique, stronger flavor that might best be recommended only to the “hard-core”. (I myself now use red palm oil daily, but my husband believes it to be better suited to savory dishes, and left out of the sweet ones.)

It can be left out of the mix, but I’ve also included coconut palm sugar, as it is much like brown sugar, but is metabolized slowly (being low on the glycemic index). The recipe below can be adjusted according to personal taste.

Healthy Chocolate Truffles

Makes 20 or so truffles (1/2 oz. ea.)

1/3 c. coconut oil (or red palm oil), melted in warm oven (or double boiler)

1/3 c. honey

2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 TBS. coconut palm sugar (low glycemic index/healthy sweetener)

1 c. toasted pecans (or other nuts)

Mix the melted oil with honey until smooth. Add the unsweetened cocoa powder, palm sugar, and toasted nuts. Refrigerate until almost firm (an hour or so); roll into small balls. Add to a bowl of palm sugar (or cocoa powder), if desired, rolling around to coat outside.

Refrigerate; will keep 2 months or so.

Originally posted on Grateful Table

Jen offers simple strategies for preparing healthy, homemade meals for family and friends. She runs The New Deli café with husband Tom, working on her 2nd cookbook in her spare time. More can be found at gratefultable.com; email Jennifer at [email protected].

 

About Jennifer Cote

Jennifer's love of cooking with natural ingredients is inspired by the organic garden she's cultivated for over 25 years. A cutting garden provides flowers for The New Deli Cafe, an herb garden lends herbs for culinary creations, and twenty-some fruit and nut trees are scattered throughout her fairly urban back yard. New Deli compost keeps the garden flourishing, as Jen and her family carry on the family business, established in 1985. A blessed grandmother, mother, and wife, Jen gets much joy from sharing recipes (and perhaps an occasional basket of figs or platter of home-baked goodies).
Saying, “I Heart You” on Valentine’s Day