Easter Chocolate or Easter Antioxidants?
Yes that's right, chocolate! Now that I have your attention... nope, we still want to talk about chocolate!
Chocolate is a tasty treat created from varying amounts of cocoa, milk and sugar products. The different quantities of these ingredients (as well as any additives, flavours and preservatives) creates the delicious milk, dark and white chocolate that we are so familiar with.
As their names suggest, milk chocolate and white chocolate contain less cocoa - and more sugar and fat - than dark chocolate. Unfortunately, I'm not here to tell you that your M&Ms or Snickers bar are going to be beneficial for your health. Cocoa is the primary ingredient in dark chocolate, which gives the richer, deeper colour and often a more intense flavour. Cocoa is rich in nutrients called antioxidants which can provide our body with protective health benefits in a very tasty way.
Antioxidants are nutrients that are found naturally in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and spices. Within the body, antioxidants have functions that are protective against harmful molecules both within the body and from the external environment. In addition to this, some antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory benefits within the body, which makes them a real super-power nutrient.
Diet patterns such as the Mediterranean diet are rich in these antioxidant-rich plant-based foods which is why they are so often recommended for health and wellbeing. Common antioxidants that you may already have heard about include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, carotenoids and curcumin, although there are plenty more out there!
Aside from Valentine's Day, Easter is famously the time of year to gift your loved ones with chocolate, which makes this holiday a very challenging time to stick with your healthy eating patterns, goals and food choices.
This Easter, why not try making your own delicious, chocolate treats to gift your loved ones that are packed full of love and health benefits too? Making your own chocolate bark is a great alternative that you can completely customise and get creative with.
Possible antioxidants present: multiple flavonoids, vitamin E and co-enzyme Q10!
2 cups 70% dark chocolate
1 tablespoon goji berries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon desiccated coconut
Feel free to get creative with the ingredients and include your favourite nuts and seeds!
Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl in a microwave (usually 20-30 seconds). Alternatively, melt the chocolate on the stove over low-medium heat.
Line a pan or tray with non-stick baking paper.
Transfer the melted chocolate onto the baking paper.
Add your berries, nuts and seeds.
Sprinkle desiccated coconut over the top.
Place the pan or tray in the fridge and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Use a sharp knife to break up the bark and serve or gift to friends.
Leftover bark can be stored in a container in the fridge or freezer.
PEN Dietitians of Canada. (2019). Antioxidants and Your Diet. Province of British Columbia: Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition. Available at: https://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=3127&trid=13678&trcatid=467 (Note: an account is required to access the referenced article. If you would like to view it please get in touch with Dietitian Kristin.)