Chocolate adds a sweet — and healthy — twist to vegetable favorites

By Liz Moore, RD, LDN

Having just celebrated Valentine’s Day, it’s only natural to be tempted by even just the thought of richly decadent chocolate treats. But did you know that chocolate has many heart-healthy benefits as well?

The antioxidant-rich flavonoids in chocolate help protect the body from free radicals, which are harmful molecules that have been implicated in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cancer and other conditions.

Flavonols — the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa — contribute to vascular health by improving blood flow to the heart and brain, lowering blood pressure and making blood platelets less sticky.

From tangy balsamic vinaigrette to savory eggplant and spicy chili, we’re taking our three healthy recipes in a new direction with the addition of chocolate and cocoa. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how well these seemingly opposite ingredients complement each other!


Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 12

Ingredients

1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
5 Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened

Directions

Whisk oil, vinegar, mustard and honey together. Add cocoa powder and blend.

Nutrition Facts: Total calories per serving: 180; Total fat: 17g; Saturated fat: 2.5g; Total cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 13mg; Total carbohydrates: 6g; Total fiber: 0.5g; Sugar: 2.5g; Protein: 0.5g


Sweet and Savory Eggplant

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 medium onion, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 lb. eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp drained capers
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 Tbsp sugar
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, grated
1/2 cup fresh basil, shredded

Directions

Saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until they begin to soften and become fragrant. Add cubed eggplant and continue to saute until the eggplant softens, about 10-15 minutes.

Add can of diced tomatoes (with juice), vinegar, capers, raisins, sugar and chocolate. Allow to simmer together for an additional 15 minutes.

Transfer out of pan into a serving dish. Mix in fresh basil and serve.

Nutrition Facts: Total calories per serving: 190; Total fat: 9.5g; Saturated fat: 2.5g; Total cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 40mg; Total carbohydrates: 28g; Total fiber: 7g; Sugar: 15g; Protein: 3.5g


Vegetarian Chocolate Chili

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 28-oz. can tomato puree, no salt added
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 oz. dark chocolate
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

Brown onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato puree, black beans and cannellini beans to slow cooker. Mix all together. Stir in dark chocolate, chili powder and cumin.

Cook on low for 4 hours. (Add water if you prefer chili to be thinner.) Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

Nutrition Facts: Total calories per serving: 185; Total fat: 5g; Saturated fat: 1.5g; Total cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 20mg; Total carbohydrates: 29g; Total fiber: 10g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 8g


Elisabeth (Liz) Moore, RD, LDN, is our resident guru in heart-healthy nutrition . She is a registered dietitian for BIDMC's CardioVascular Institute (CVI) and sees patients in BIDMC's outpatient nutrition clinic and the CVI's Cardiovascular Health and Lipid Center. Moore received her BS degree in human nutrition from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

February 2017

 

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