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This post will not only have a yummy, fun, and easy recipe attached (at the end), but will also focus on the health benefits of chocolate. Yippee! We lucked out girls, cocoa is actually a health food. I’m not leaving out the guys, but for some reason, the “gimme some chocolate before somebody gets hurt” gene shows more expression when you have two X chromosomes. We got a double dose of it, that’s all. So it plays out that women like chocolate twice as much as men do. It’s a scientifically proven fact. Ask around, everyone agrees, regardless of gender.

Several studies indicate pure, natural cocoa to be high in flavonoids (phytochemicals), which are powerful antioxidants that may help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to the food chemistry geeks at Cornell University, the antioxidant content of cocoa was almost 2 times higher than red wine, 2 to 3 times higher than green tea, and 4 to 5 times higher than black tea. Other studies show cocoa reduces blood clotting and may also stabilize arterial plaque. If you check the Dagoba Chocolate website, you’ll find a long list of health benefits.

But before you run out to the supermarket and load up on Mars Bars and Snickers, keep in mind, the research studies touting the benefits of chocolate were conducted using pure, natural cocoa (or cacao if you’re talking about the plant), so stick close to the source. Processed candy bars are not only unhealthy in general, but often contain gluten and other allergens. So skip the packaged cocoa drinks and additive-filled candy bars and buy the good stuff or make your own treats (see attached recipe). My favorite source for cocoa powder for my recipes is Dagoba, but there are other good choices as well.

And check out Bete Noire Chocolates for gluten-free, totally yummy and delectable specialties (truffles, cookies, and cakes). The company is owned by my friend and cohort in the world of nutrition and natural cooking (she’s the professional pastry chef, not me), Cindy Gawel. Cindy, an instructor at the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, CO and one of the sponsors of the Gluten-Free Culinary Summit and Lecture Series in Denver, is a chocolate aficionado and gluten-free chef like no other. Nibbling on her rich, chocolate creations: green tea and tangerine truffles; almond, cinnamon, anise, with a hint of chile; ginger and dark chocolate, is . . . well . . . indescribable. You have to try it for yourself. You can even order online, which makes satisfying your addiction to high-end chocolate quite easy!

Chocolate as a health food? Sound too good to be true? Don’t question it, just enjoy it!

Melissa’s scrumptious cocoa fondue

what you need
1/2 cup almond butter
10 mejool dates (pitted)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cups
Dagoba cacao powder
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

what you do
place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency (you may want to add more coconut milk or water)
serve with fresh strawberries, Fuji apple slices, pears, or even jicama (whatever comes to mind)

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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