When it comes to healthy foods, very few land fancy, attractive names such as the ultimate “Food of the Gods.” Yet, that’s the meaning of “cacao” in Greek. Cacao seeds are the source used in the production of cacao powder, which in turn makes dark chocolate. And unless you haven’t watched the news or been on Facebook lately, it is NOT the most startling news that dark chocolate is so very good for you! Today’s recipe is Chocolate Covered Cherries!
Lucky for you, we are here to sum up all the latest nutritional buzz on chocolate and why you should be eating it with our Once Again Nut Butters for even more health benefits! Cacao powder has been a popular topic for exploration among food and nutrition scientists. There are plenty of interested health professionals waiting to see how cacao powder might be used in modern medicine to benefit overall health and prevent disease.
However, this is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. There is still plenty to learn about cacao powder and its properties, but for now the preliminary published data is encouraging. A research group found that eating dark chocolate (not the milk chocolate known for its high sugar content) can boost your immune system, protecting you from certain levels of inflammation. A British group of psychologists found that their test subjects could more efficiently count back from a randomly-generated number between 800-999 when they had a hot chocolate drink versus those who did not partake of one. Most studies agree that 45 grams of chocolate per week is the magic number leading up to a 20% decrease in the risk of heart disease among women. There are also indications that cacao powder helps lower risk of heart attack by preventing blood clots.
Protecting our hearts from damage is a priority when it comes to increasing longevity. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that combining raw almonds, dark chocolate and cocoa significantly reduced the number of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, particles in the blood of overweight and obese people. LDL can clog arteries and lead to heart attacks; therefore, any action one can take to lower its presence in the body is indicated by health professionals. And this action does not involve a pill—for a change! Just enjoying delicious dark chocolate and almonds appears to be part of the answer when it comes to boosting heart health.
The amount of chocolate consumed remains an important factor not to be overlooked. Health professionals advise that they are NOT encouraging individuals to go out and add a bar of chocolate daily to their food intake. Instead, they recommend swapping current treats, perhaps a can of soda or cookie one may indulge in daily, for a 1 to 2 ounce serving of dark chocolate and 23 almonds or 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of pure almond butter. Sounds like a delicious way to get healthier— what do you think? Well, we originally made the recipe below with cashew butter, but you can easily substitute almond butter. We suspect that it is just a matter of time before there is a study also confirming the benefits of eating cashews and dark chocolate together, but we’ll have to wait for the researchers to work on that one before we can post verified evidence. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy all our nut butters individually or with dark chocolate! Now let’s not ignore the nutritional powerhouse cherries in this recipe. There are several health benefits associated with eating these ruby-red, small sweet fruits, and we recently wrote about them in this blog (https://onceagainnutbutter.com/recipe/runners-recovery-cookie/) You may want to check it out, too.
Watch the video below to see how easily you can make these treats at home; there is a tip on how to extract the pits from the cherries, too, in our video. Don’t let the supposed drudgery of extracting cherry pits stand in the way of your making these little wonders.
Chocolate Covered Cherries
Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LD
Frozen cherries stuffed with a dollop of cashew butter for the most satisfying summertime or anytime treat! Cover them in melted chocolate for an extraordinary dessert. Great recipe for summertime, or holiday feast!
- Wash and remove pits from cherries; then fill each hole with cashew butter and set aside.
- Melt dark chocolate in a bowl over warm water or use your preferred method.
- Dip each cherry in the chocolate and place on parchment paper to set.
- You can speed up this process by placing the cherries in the freezer to chill for just 10 minutes.
- Enjoy! Save any possible leftovers in the refrigerator. These are best if consumed within 48 hours.