Yes, I love chocolate.  I come from a long line of female chocolate lovers (aka “chocoholics”).  And now my 7-year old daughter, Sammie, is one, too.  She would eat chocolate at every meal, if left to her own devices.  Over the years, I have fine-tuned my chocolate indulgences to the darker side.  After all, there is science to support that dark chocolate can be better for you.

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Dark chocolate – with at least 70 percent cocoa, contains less saturated fat with the decreased cocoa butter and less sugar, plus it has more of the powerful antioxidants called flavanols.  Dark chocolate’s flavanols may be good for keeping cholesterol and blood pressure in check, thus promoting heart health.  Also, it may help curb appetite and cause you to eat less during the day, according to research.  It’s an elixir of sorts — it may boost mood by increasing “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.  (Think about how good you feel when the Lindt square hits your tongue…or is that just me?!)  However, the science does not give us a free pass to eat as much chocolate as we want without paying a price.  It’s still a confection, which is high in calories and sugar – a 1.5 ounce serving of dark chocolate has 220 calories and 12 grams of sugar (double the sugar for milk chocolate!).  Aim for about an one-ounce of dark chocolate a day to reap the rewards.  Eat it slowly and savor it, you’ll enjoy that ounce much more…

Since I give my brownies a nutrition boost with black beans, I thought I’d try it whipped up in a Nutella-like spread (my daughter loves Nutella, too!)  It’s great to spread onto sandwich thins, fruit (like pears that I show below) or a dolloped into a crepe for a decadent Sunday brunch.

For this butter spread, I add pecans for some healthy unsaturated fats, vitamin E and interesting flavor, as well as black beans for fiber, iron and good mouth feel.  I use Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, but use whatever dark chocolate you prefer.

Black Bean, Dark Chocolate and Pecan Butter

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Serves 6 (2 tablespoons each)

Ingredients

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

1 cup black beans, canned, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup raw pecans

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 Tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 – 40 seconds, remove and stir.  In a Vitamix or blender, pulse black beans, add melted chocolate, pecans, sugar, water and cinnamon.  Blend together until smooth (like butter). Schmear onto sliced apples, banana, pear or strawberries or whole grain toast or wrap.

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 200, Total Fat: 7 g,  Saturated Fat: 2 g   Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 1 mg,            Sodium: 3 mg, Carbohydrates: 28 g,  Dietary Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 6 g, Protein: 8 g

 Enjoy eating simply,

-Vicki

 

Thanks for checking out my lifestyle tips and recipes today!

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