Once again it’s time for romance!
You might hate this time of year or love it. Maybe you feel it’s acutely over-commercialised or perhaps you love to have yet another excuse to spoil your partner. Whatever your feelings, it’s always a good time for chocolate and to spoil yourself or someone close, wouldn’t you agree?
Chocolate is a wonderful substance.
It’s extremely high in antioxidants (they help reduce premature aging) and other goodies such as magnesium (very important for good energy and lacking in the modern diet) and tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin which makes you feel happy) so it’s no wonder we love the stuff so much!
Oh, you thought it was bad for you? Some of the health benefits of raw chocolate include:
- Improved heart health
- Lower risk of stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduced coughing
- It has been shown to help weight loss
The main problem with most chocolates we buy in the shops is the sugar:
- Sugar causes acidity in the body
- Sugar makes you put on weight
- Sugar messes with you blood sugar, which increases the chances of diabetes
- Sugar raises triglycerides, which in turn raises the risk of heart attacks
- Sugar depletes your body of essential nutrients, reducing the effectiveness of your immune system
And so on.
Personally, I don’t like the refined weird dairy that goes into chocolate either, which can also inhibit nutrient absorption, but I’ll save that rant for another time.
There is another way! The great news is that you can really easily make your own chocolate that is both delicious and extremely good for you!
Naughty but nutritious
Valentine’s pomegranate fridge chocolates
- A small saucepan
- A metal or glass bowl that sits on top of the saucepan without touching the bottom.
- A spatula or spoon
- Weighing scales (or you can taste as you go along!)
- Chocolate moulds or silicon muffin cups
- Coffee grinder (not essential but helpful)
Some of these ingredients you’ll have to get from a specialist whole food store or online. I’ve included online shopping links on my website.
- 1 pomegranate
- 100-200g almonds, chopped roughly
- 200g raw cacao paste or liquor
- 50g raw cacao butter or coconut butter
- 50g coconut palm sugar or rapadura (evaporated sugar cane juice)
- 2 vanilla pods
- 1 tbs lecithin (this is a natural fat emulsifier which helps you to break down fat) – optional
Prepare a bain-marie. Pour just enough water into the bottom of the saucepan so that it doesn’t touch the bowl when you place it on top. Allow the water to come to the boil and turn down the heat to a light simmer. The steam will heat the bowl to melt the chocolate.
Break the cacao paste into smallish chunks. Place all of the cacao and additional fat into the bowl of the bain-marie. Allow the chocolate to melt slowly; you don’t want it to get very hot.
Meanwhile, prepare the pomegranate. To get the seeds out of the pomegranate without breaking them, this is the best method I’ve found: cut the pomegranate in half horizontally through the belly. You’ll notice thin membranes in between the sections of fruit. Cut through just the skin along those membrane lines. It doesn’t have to be accurate. Gently break open the halves along those lines. The fruit should stay together in clumps. Delicately brush out the fruit into a bowl. Pick out any pith as this is bitter. Drain out the juice (drink it, it’s delicious!) and place the seeds on a paper towel.
Next, grind the sugar with the lecithin in the coffee grinder until its fine powder. If you don’t have a coffee grinder you’ll have bigger chunks of sugar which changes the texture but is also tasty.
Score the vanilla pods length ways with a sharp knife to open them and scrape out the seeds with the flat of your knife. Add these to the sugar.
Back to the melting chocolate: when there is just a small chunk (about a tablespoon) of chocolate left, remove the bowl from the saucepan and mix the chocolate until it has all melted. Now you’ll have to work quickly to make sure the chocolate doesn’t stiffen before you’re ready.
Mix in all of the remaining ingredients apart from the pomegranate seeds. When all ingredients are well mixed, add enough pomegranate so that it’s about 50% chocolate mixture and 50% fruit. Stir very gently to combine. Spoon this mixture into your moulds and set in the fridge. It will take about 30 minutes to set. This will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Serve with fresh pomegranate seeds on top and a whole lot of love!
Written by Ania Nowicki, CHHC, Vitality & Food
If you really can’t get hold of raw cacao liquor, this will still work with dark cooking chocolate or “eating” chocolate such as Green & Blacks. Look for 70% cacao content or above.
If you can’t get hold of the nutritious sugars, replace with finely chopped dates.
For useful online shopping sources please see Ania’s links on www.vitalityandfood.com
Ania Nowicki is a Certified Holistic Health & Well-being Coach, working with men and women who are struggling to feel and look their physical and mental best. She works with them to identify and work through barriers, as well as helping them to develop an outstanding diet for a life of well-being, fulfilment and success. To contact Ania please go to www.vitalityandfood.com or email her firstname.lastname@example.org