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Healthy Chocolate Treats

Dark chocolate as a delicious friend, not foe

Pam Anderson: Three Healthy Chocolate Snack Recipes - Hot Chocolate

Dark chocolate helps fight inflammation, especially important for cardiovascular health. — Threemanycooks.com

En español | Remember when chocolate joined broccoli and blueberries as a health-promoting, disease-fighting food? Dark chocolate, specifically, is good for you. Its usual partners — butter, sugar, cream — are what drag it down. So for your guiltless pleasure, I share with you three healthy chocolate treats: Coconut Hot Chocolate, Double Chocolate Pudding and Chocolate-Peanut Chex Mix.

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Dark chocolate helps fight inflammation, especially important for cardiovascular health. But this sweet treat also helps with two other biggies — reducing blood pressure and "bad" LDL cholesterol. In addition, dark chocolate is high in fiber, so just a little bite quickly curbs the appetite and satisfies for longer than empty-calorie snacks do.

Two recent studies point to more good chocolate news. According to a small Italian study, regular chocolate eating increases insulin sensitivity, which means reduced risk for diabetes. And a Swedish study observed a 20 percent reduction in strokes for women who ate more than 1 1/2 ounces of chocolate a week, compared with those who ate a scant quarter-ounce.

Like baby aspirin, chocolate helps thin the blood, and so much more deliciously. Plus, remember when your mom blamed chocolate for all of your facial blemishes? Quite the opposite! In fact, chocolate is good for skin. What's more, chocolate is good for your mood. There's great satisfaction in enjoying the occasional treat, in moderation, and chocolate can offer that much-needed energy boost when we start to lag.

Despite all the good news about chocolate, we all know it doesn't mean we're entitled to an enormous wedge of chocolate cake, a big brownie or a saucer-size chocolate-chip cookie. Still, it's nice to know that something we all crave is actually good for us.

Coconut Hot Chocolate

Serves 2

Don't confuse coconut drink with canned coconut milk or cream. Coconut drink is usually located in the nondairy-milk section.

2 cups coconut drink (such as Coconut Dream)

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Slowly bring coconut drink, chocolate and salt to simmer in a medium saucepan, whisking to melt the chocolate. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and serve.

Next: Double chocolate pudding. »

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