The wonderful thing about dark chocolate — other than its rich, bittersweet flavor — is its versatility. Dark chocolate (> 60% cacao) has been in the spotlight lately for not only being delicious, but also packing a healthy punch. A small portion of this decadent delight packs antioxidants, specifically flavonols, which are a class of flavonoids. Flavonols are a type of phytochemical that can mainly be found in fruits and vegetables. Research has associated increased flavonol intake with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis and inflammation. Flavonols aid in promoting bone health and have neuro-protective and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you’re a chocolate lover this is great news. It is important to note that chocolate contains sugar and saturated fat, both things that should be eaten in moderation. But the higher the cacao content, the more likely it is to be rich with antioxidants. Chocolate is higher in calories, so be mindful of the portions.
Since I love chocolate so much, I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my recipes. The following recipe combines dark chocolate with some great nutrient-rich ingredients (almonds, quinoa, dried cherries, oats). It is really simple and can be eaten plain, with milk, Greek yogurt or even a little bit of ice cream if you’re feeling indulgent.
Chocolate Quinoa Granola
Recipe developed by Brieanna Casperson, RDN
Makes 5 cups
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup quinoa
1 cup sliced almonds
⅓ cup dried cherries
⅓ cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
3 tablespoons 100% maple syrup (add one more tbsp if your mixture seems dry)
⅛ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup dark chocolate chips (added after baking)
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Slowly pour the wet ingredients (while stirring) over the dry ingredients until everything is evenly covered and combined.
- Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper. Put the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (check at 15 minutes to make sure the granola is browning evenly on the sheet).
- With oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cooling granola. Let the pan cool on a heat resistant surface. Once cooled, pick up the edges of the parchment paper and the granola will break into oat clusters.