Have you noticed how a drizzle of chocolate on almost any dessert makes it better? Well how about dribbling a few things into chocolate to make it better? I was recently inspired by Lake Champlain's new Granola Five Star Bar — a sumptuous block of dark chocolate, oats, almonds and cranberries. No surprise it was yummy perfection but I also wondered why not mix up my own chocolate creation? Great news that a little dark chocolate a day can keep the doctor away. It contains powerful disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols. In fact, a small square of dark chocolate contains as much polyphenol activity as a cup of green tea and double the amount in a glass of red wine. Look for dark chocolate that contains at least 40-70% cocoa mass. Since it's high in fat and calories, limit your indulgence to about 1.5 ounces (about a few squares) a day for good health.
To blend your own chocolate concoction, break into pieces your favorite dark chocolate bar (about 4-5 ounces) and microwave at medium power in 30 second intervals. Stir until completely melted and then add favorite ingredients. Pour mixture into a shallow pan or baking sheet covered with waxed paper, cool, and cut into bite-sized pieces. You can alter the nutrition content to your liking. For example, if you want to cut calories, just add in some fat free cereal like Rice Krispies, Chex, or oats, which will reduce the overall calories per serving. To add minerals (iron, potassium) and fiber as well as extra antioxidants, sprinkle in dried fruit and nuts. This is a super nutrient-rich snack that will satisfy any craving, but it's also super caloric so stick to a small portion a day that replaces other high calorie, low nutrient snacks.
For me, I wanted a nutrient-packed chocolate with protein and even more fiber so I added chopped almonds, dried blueberries, Fiber One cereal, and a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed. You don't have to worry about exact measurements, just sprinkle in however much you want of each additional ingredient. The flavor: unbelievable. Life doesn't get better than this!