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Whether it is in the shape of a heart, marshmallow filled or in a box, most people indulge in tons of chocolate on Valentines Day. Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff but I also want a healthier option so that I don’t feel completely guilty after I’ve indulged in 1, 2 or 5 pieces!

The ingredients I chose to include in this recipe meshed so well together, and also provide some great health benefits. I chose to use dark chocolate because it is packed with antioxidants with minimal sugar added. The crunch from the toppings gives this chocolate bark a texture reminiscent of a chocolate bar without adding any grains, popped rice or sugar.

Dark chocolate contains powerful flavanols. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that they have potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart. It is rich in magnesium, which also helps maintain blood pressure levels and energy levels, allowing us to remain calm and relaxed.

When you see a percentage on the packaging, the only thing that it tells you is how sweet the chocolate is – the ratio of cocoa beans to other ingredients. For example, a 70% dark chocolate bar is 70% cocoa beans and the remaining 30% is made up of sugar plus perhaps vanilla and maybe an emulsifier like lecithin. Obviously the higher the percentage, the better the health benefits. Ultimately though, it comes down to personal preference and finding a taste you like best. It thus also a great vegan or allergy friendly option.

I decided to make three different versions – two healthy options and one ‘cheat.’ I chose to use a lot of nuts and seeds as well as goji berries for the fibre, antioxidants and cholesterol lowering properties they will provide.

The recipe? 1. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. 2. Pour the melted chocolate onto a tray. 3. Place your desired toppings on the melted chocolate. 4. Place in the freezer until solid. 4. Break into chards. Voila!

The nice thing about this recipe is that it is incredibly impressive looking and can be made in advance. The sky is the limit when it comes to the variations and you can let your creativity run wild. You can create a dark chocolate trail mix variation for your significant health nut or venture down the path of something stunning and indulgent like a marbled almond bark. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  1. Dried strawberries and pistachios

  2. Dried sour cherries and orange peel or zest

  3. Coarse salt

  1. Chopped peanuts dried apricots and hazelnuts

  2. Coconut and almonds

This recipe was easy to make…  easy peasy! Seriously fool proof, with zero oven time. So hold off on the usual box of heart shaped chocolates this Valentines Day, and make a batch of this delicious dark chocolate bark instead! Might I suggest making a double batch of this stuff? Because trust me, you’ll be happy you did (and so will your guy!).

Shani

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