For us Northerners, and especially for those of us living in Quebec, hibernation is what we do best. We hibernate for what feels like 3/4 of the year. It’s only natural then that come summer time, we peel off the layers, get out of the penumbra and try to soak up as much sun as possible (Sheryl Crow’s orders), to make up for the rest of the drab sunlight-less year.
Many foods are great for protecting our skin naturally. One five-star example of this is cocoa and dark chocolate. Chocolate is amazing, I think we can all agree that that is a fact.
Uh-oh. Fingerprints on the bark. Evidence that I can’t keep my hands off this, ha!
Today, I come bearing good news for dark chocolate lovers: dark chocolate may help improve mood as well as bodyguard us against sun damage. Chocolate contains flavanols (which are naturally-occuring compounds in cocoa beans), which help promote blood flow and dilate (relax) blood vessels, which allows for nutrient delivery to the skin. Moreover, a study by Heinrich et al. carried out in 2006 found that these flavanols protect our largest organ (what is, skin – I think I’m on Jeopardy) from UV damage, increase thickness and density of skin and decrease water loss. It’s no wonder then that cocoa butter itself has been used for generations as a beauty product for naturally hydrating skin.
Additionally, dark chocolate helps fight beauty’s public enemy number one: stress. Dark choco helps reduce stress hormones, which translates to less breakdown of the collagen in our skin, and hence fewer wrinkles.
I therefore sentence you all to regular dark chocolate consumption (if you enjoy it, that is 🙂 ). What’s a reasonable amount? Two to three ounces a week is a good average to aim for. To benefit from the concrete beauty benefits we have seen, one should consume chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher. This is because a lesser percentage of cocoa means more sugar is contained in the chocolate, which is the opposite of what we want 🙂 .
And now, without further delay, here is the recipe for an extremely uncomplicated chocolate treat.
- 200 grams 70% baking chocolate
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup pistachios
- 1/4 cup goji berries
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds (I used white as I wanted a colour contrast but black seeds would work just fine)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place baking chocolate in a double boiler. Add coconut oil and stir often to prevent the chocolate from burning.
- Once baking chocolate is melted, add in nuts, chia seeds, berries and a pinch of sea salt.
- Pour onto parchment paper. Add a few goji berries or nuts atop the mixture for decoration and colour.
- Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Firm that bark up.
- Marvel at how easy that was to make.
- Break into pieces and serve to your loved ones – sharing is caring.
Jingle: Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that chocolate bark.
And now, cue a collective “oh. my. yes.”