6 Super Reasons (Excuses) To Love Chocolate

TS-498613020 Valentines Chocolate

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I’m thinking about chocolate. And I don’t mean Hershey’s Kisses! These days chocolate comes in exciting flavor combinations that make it an adventure. I’ve seen many of these gourmet versions in stores such as Whole Foods and upscale supermarkets. I’ve also had the opportunity to sample many unusual forms of chocolate at the Natural Products Expo, which takes place in Anaheim, CA each March.

By now, we all know that dark chocolate is truly FoodTrient-worthy. It’s loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and even some fiber. The flavor, texture and nuances of dark chocolate, like fine wine, are determined by where the beans are grown and how they’re processed.

TS-186142495 Individual Chocolates

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for manganese.
  • It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Dark chocolate has many other properties that are beneficial to your body and soul:

  1. A powerful source of antioxidants – It’s loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. When tested against other high-antioxidant fruits like blueberries and acai berries, one study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols.
  2. Lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow – The flavanols in dark chocolate encourage artery walls to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
  3. Raises good cholesterol (HDL) and protects bad cholesterol (LDL) against oxidation – Oxidized LDL means that it has reacted with free radicals, making the LDL particle damaging to tissues, such as the lining of arteries and the heart. Besides helping to protect against heart disease, dark chocolate can reduce resistance to insulin, a factor in developing diabetes.
  4. Sharpens the mind – A Harvard study of older adults revealed that those with hypertension and compromised blood flow to the brain improved cognition when they drank two cups of cocoa per day for 30 days. 89% had improved blood flow during tests for memory and thinking skills. Cocoa also contains caffeine, which can boost brain activity short term.
  5. Stress control – According to a Swiss study, an ounce a day of dark chocolate may suppress stress hormones secreted by the adrenal glands and minimize the effects of cortisol on the body. So keep some dark chocolate on hand for every day emergencies.
  6. Weight loss aid – Dark chocolate is more filling and satisfying that white or milk chocolate. It can lessen cravings for other sweet, salty or fatty foods. A little bit of dark chocolate can help you stick to a healthy eating plan and keep you from feeling deprived.

Here are some chocolate companies that are doing some really interesting things with everyone’s favorite flavor.

Chocxo is a company in Orange County that uses top-quality cacao beans from Central and South American growers and roasts and processes them in their own facility here in Southern California. From the chocolate liquor they create bars made from single origin beans from farms in Ecuador and Venezuela. ‘Single origin’ means the cacao beans are grown within a single known geographic origin. Sometimes this is a single farm. The chocolate bars range from 68%-80% cacao (the only other ingredient in the dark chocolate is cane sugar) and, like fine wine, are described as ‘fruity’, ‘balanced’ and ‘floral.’ Compare several bars together—that’s what I call a tasting!

Endangered Species Chocolate company’s milk and dark chocolate bars and bites are made with ethically traded, shade grown cacao and natural ingredients. Each 3oz. bar wrapper explains about endangered species and 10% of the company’s net profits are donated to support conservation efforts. Enjoy for a cause!

Askinosie Chocolate, based in the Ozark Mountains, is another artisan chocolate company that offers ‘single source’ chocolate with beans from the Philippines, Ecuador, Tanzania and Honduras. Their mission is to craft exceptional chocolate while, “Serving farmers, our customers, our neighborhood, and one another, striving in all we do to leave whatever part of the world we touch better for the encounter.” They make chocolate bars flavored with gingerbread, pistachio, ancho chile, coconut plus other traditional combinations. They even make goat’s milk chocolate!


Compartes Chocolate

When I want to give a special gift, I go to Compartés Chocolatier. These ultra gourmet chocolates are hand-made from scratch every day by a small team of chocolate artists, using fresh natural ingredients from local farmers’ markets, in their Los Angeles chocolate kitchen and shops. I don’t know how they do it, but these chocolate truffles have colorful designs and come in unique flavors such as honey rum, tequila lime, smoked salt caramel, balsamic and pear cardamom.

For a do-it-yourself chocolate treat try these Brownie Bites. Look for more delicious chocolate recipes in my new cookbook, The Age Beautifully Cookbook, coming out in April! You can PRE-ORDER it now.

You won’t believe these brownie bites are completely raw and fruit-based! Dates blended with walnuts and cocoa powder create a rich, chocolate morsel perfect for a special treat, party or holiday.

Brownie Bites


Yields approximately 24 one-inch pieces

2 cups Medjool dates, pits removed
2 cups raw walnut pieces
¾ cup pure cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt, finely ground
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Place pitted dates, walnuts, cocoa powder and salt in a food processor and pulse until moist, crumb-like dough has formed. Add water in small amounts until mixture sticks together easily, one Tablespoon at a time scraping down sides as needed. Pour coconut flakes into a shallow bowl and roll small 1 inch balls of brownie dough until they are covered with coconut. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes and serve cold.

About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that. foodtrients.com
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.