It has been a very rough time for us. I am certainly not making light of these very scary times; however, we must stay strong. We can do this by stepping up our exercise routines and by being super diligent in what we eat to stay healthy.
As I mentioned in my recent blog, Eating Healthy Anti-Inflammatory Foods May Aid Disease Prevention, maintaining and enhancing your health is done in part by adding essential anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. I am going to break down that post into weekly segments this month. Each will focus on a different anti-inflammatory food group and offer a coordinating recipe for you to try! Let’s eat dessert first … so this week, we’ll start with dessert.
Dessert: The Benefits of Dark Chocolate
You may have heard of the anti-Inflammatory dark chocolate benefits, but here are five essential facts …
- Very Nutritious — A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate contains 11 grams of fiber and tons of minerals. You can meet sixty-seven percent of your Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of iron by eating a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate. (The RDI is used to label the amount of nutrients which are considered to be sufficient in meeting daily nutrient requirements for most healthy people.) In eating 100 grams of dark chocolate, you will also fulfill 58% of your requirement for magnesium, 89% of your copper needs, and 98% of your body’s daily need for manganese. Dark chocolate also contains plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
- Powerful Source of Antioxidants — Antioxidants play a part in disarming bad free radicals! Dark chocolate is loaded with biologically-active organic compounds. These function as antioxidants, such as polyphenols, flavanoids, and catechins. All of these are beneficial micronutrients with antioxidant activity.
- Could Increase Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure — The flavanols in the dark chocolate can stimulate the lining of our arteries. This produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide sends signals to the arteries to relax which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
- Raises HDL (Good Cholesterol) and Protects LDL (Bad Cholesterol) from Oxidation — All those powerful antioxidants help protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage. Additionally, dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is another common risk factor for many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
- May Improve Brain Function — This benefit is very exciting to me! Studies involving volunteers showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for five days improved blood flow to the brain. It may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. Cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine. These are the key reasons why it can improve brain function in the short term.
Dark Chocolate Toffee Matzo (or Pretzels)
- 4-6 Sheets Matzo May use gluten-free matzo (or pretzels).
- 1 Bag Flat Pretzel Crisps OPTIONAL: Instead of matzo. Use plain or any flavor you wish.
- 1 Cup Butter, unsalted Or use vegan olive oil butter.
- 1 Cup Light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate chips Use dairy free for parve/vegan.
- Pinch sea salt
- 2-3 Tbsp. Chopped nuts Optional, your choice.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line your pan with aluminum foil, then place the parchment paper on top.
- Cover the parchment paper with matzo (or pretzels). Break or cut the matzo in smaller pieces if necessary.
- In a heavy double boiler combine butter, light brown sugar, and pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2-4 minutes. Continue boiling for about 3 minutes. If you do not have a heavy double boiler, you may use a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Remove from heat and pour the toffee mixture evenly over the matzo/pretzels. Spread with a spatula, quickly as it will begin to get sticky.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Check frequently to avoid burning. If it looks like it's getting too brown, take it out and reduce heat to 325 degrees.
- Once 15 minutes have passed, remove from oven and sprinkle the dark chocolate chips over the top. Let it stand for 5 minutes then spread the melted chocolate evenly over the matzo/pretzels.
- Sprinkle with chopped nuts and a little sea salt if you wish over the melted chocolate. While it is still warm, you can break into smaller pieces or wait until it comes out of the freezer. (See next step—this is my preferred way!)
- Place pan in the freezer until the top sets. Serve straight from the freezer. Break into smaller pieces to serve.