Is chocolate good for you, or bad for you? Well like with everything, moderation is the key. Eating a little dark chocolate each day may reduce the risk of heart disease by one-third. And, did you know that dark chocolate has an anti-bacterial effect on the mouth and may protect against tooth decay? Let’s dig into some other healthy ways to incorporate the chocolate we love into our diet.
Whip-It-Good Banana Split
Let’s start with my favorite dessert at just 130 calories per serving, a banana split made with chocolate pudding. Yum!
2 cups fat-free milk
1 package Jell-O instant sugar-free chocolate pudding mix
2 ripe bananas, sliced
1/2 cup fat-free whipped topping
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts
4 Bing cherries
Whisk together the milk and pudding mix for about two minutes. Spoon half of the pudding into four dessert cups. Top with bananas and the remaining pudding. Divide the whipped topping, peanuts, and cherries among the dishes. Let stand until set, about five minutes.
Mexican Chicken Mole
Before the introduction to Europe, one of the earliest civilizations in Latin America in the area now known as Mexico, the Olmec were the first to turn the cacao plant into chocolate. The cacao beans were used in many ways as currency, a gift from the gods given to other groups, a refreshing beverage, an aphrodisiac, a healing medicine and in many rituals. One of my favorite meals uses a mole sauce that incorporates dark chocolate for a sweet, savory and spicy flavor. My grandmother used to make mole for me with chicken and Spanish rice. The ingredient list is long yet very simple to put together. You can make the sauce in advance and even freeze it to use later. Any leftover sauce can be poured over many other dishes like enchiladas, tacos, tostadas, or used as a pour over meat sauce.
For the chicken:
3 pounds of chicken (about 4 wings, 4 legs or use thighs and breast)
½ cup vegetable oil
3 cups chicken stock
½ cup orange juice, 2 tbsp orange rind OR ½ cup water (according to your preference)
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Sauce:
6 dried long red chilis
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1-2 tablespoon peanuts crushed
1 tablespoon pepitas
400 grams tomato puree
2-3 tablespoons dried prunes or raisins
1 slice day-old bread torn into chunks
60 grams dark chocolate (minimum 80% cacao)
Flour or corn tortillas
Fresh cilantro or coriander
Red onion finely sliced or diced
2 tablespoon white sesame seeds for garnish
Prepare the Chilies and Make Chili Oil:
- Heat half a cup of vegetable oil in a medium frying pan and add the dried chilies. Heat them through gently until they just start to blacken, but don’t allow to burn (1-2 minutes).
- Carefully remove the chilies from the oil and place them in a small bowl, then cover them with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes.
Cook the chicken:
- Pour the chili oil into a large saucepan or casserole dish over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for three minutes or so per side. Watch out for spitting oil!
- Once cooked, return all the chicken to the frying pan used to cook the chili and add the orange juice and half the chicken stock.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for around 20 mins, rotating the chicken every 5 minutes or so to coat.
Make the mole sauce:
- Meanwhile, back in the large saucepan or casserole dish, heat up the chili oil on medium heat and add your chopped onion and garlic.
- Next add the oregano, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cinnamon stick. Cook for 2 minutes until the spices are nice and fragrant.
- Add the peanuts, pepitas, torn chunks of bread, tomato puree and raisins, along with the softened chilis.
- Pour in the remaining chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow all those gorgeous flavors to blend.
- Now, remove from the heat and take out the cinnamon stick to blend the sauce. You can do this with a stick blender or by transferring the sauce in batches into a food processor.
- Add in the dark chocolate and allow it to melt gently into the sauce. Give it a good stir and a taste test.
Add the chicken into the sauce:
- Place the cooked chicken (whole or shredded) along with its juices and stock back into the pot with your blended mole sauce and cover. Return to the heat and warm through before serving.
- Layer your fresh tortillas with chicken mole, red onion, sesame seeds and fresh cilantro or coriander.
- Optionally, serve with fluffy white rice. Enjoy!