Cook’s notes: dark chocolate to lift your spirits

Making the most of a simple dark chocolate bar – having time for reflection in these very difficult times of isolation my thoughts strayed to childhood memories of ‘a bar of dark chocolate’ (Bournville to be precise).

Cooking with dark chocolate: lush.

Cooking with dark chocolate: lush.

If it’s chocolate then it’s food

‘Bournville bucks you up – gives you an instant supply of energy when you’re feeling low. This famous plain chocolate – containing sunshine Vitamin D, iron and other minerals – it is also abundantly rich in carbohydrates for quick immediately available energy – look for the famous red packet.’

The above comes from a 1937 advert published in an exceptional book written by Maurice Baren ‘How it all began in the Pantry’ published by Michael O’Mara Books Ltd. The above quote turned by thoughts to discover how healthy dark chocolate has become.

We have so many choices of chocolate to choose from, milk, white and dark, and all with so many ingredients added for taste.

Chocolate has undergone an amazing transformation since its discovery by the Mayans 4,000 years ago.  It has always been recognized to lift your spirits and was even blamed for causing hysteria in women in 18th century Central America so why not try a new and uplifting experience with dark chocolate – delicious in so many ways.

Eating chocolate has always been associated with a poor diet, because of the high calorie content, but good quality dark chocolate can be used as part of a healthy lifestyle (in moderation). Selecting a 90g bar of high-cocoa (85%) organic dark chocolate from our local fruit and veg shop (Green and Blacks caught my eye on the shelf), I realized it has 30 squares; each square of the rich and satisfying chocolate has less than 1 gram of sugar (so 5 squares of chocolate is the same as a single teaspoon of sugar!). On reading the label on the back I thought this small bar of dark chocolate was full of fortifying ingredients.  Dark chocolate is a source of iron, magnesium and zinc, and it  also contains the antioxidant flavinoids and polyphenols to lower free radicals. We are all trying to help boost our immunity in small ways during this difficult  time especially, and – believe it or not – dark chocolate even helps with this! The iron helps prevent anaemia, magnesium and zinc which are needed by the immune system, and antioxidants are also important to boost your immunity to infection.

And dark chocolate makes you feel better by raising the serotonin levels in the brain.

Lifting your spirits with dark chocolate has never been healthier!

Dark chocolate power balls

These power balls are a great way to counter your sugar cravings and are not only full of goodness but provide you with a real energy boost throughout the day to help with the afternoon slump, and have less than 1 gram of sugar each!

Dark chocolate energy balls - full of peanut, date and chocolate goodness.

Dark chocolate energy balls – full of peanut, oat and chocolate goodness.

Dark Chocolate Power Balls
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 10-12
  • 3 tbsp organic oats
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • Handful pine nuts (or your own choice of nuts)
  • 2 tbsp grated high-cocoa organic dark chocolate
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Place the peanut butter and oats in a medium sized bowl
  2. Add the honey, grated chocolate, pine nuts, cinnamon and salt. Gently mix until all ingredients combined
  3. Taste mixture to make additions if you wish (add more oats if too wet or add more salt, to taste)
  4. Using a tablespoon, spoon out small individual amounts of the mixture and shape into balls (if using hands make sure you have washed them thoroughly before handling the balls).
  5. Place in fridge for 30 minutes (can be kept for a couple of days)


Spinach and dark chocolate smoothie

Enjoy this rich, velvety smoothie.  Full of goodness and will certainly lift your spirits.   You even have more than half of your 90g bar of dark chocolate left to enjoy. Choose a bar of dark chocolate and be creative in the kitchen without feeling too guilty.

Spinach, dates and dark chocolate: a combo you've considered already?

Spinach, dates and dark chocolate: a combo you’ve considered already?

Spinach and Dark Chocolate Smoothie
This recipe can be adapted to taste (add either almond milk or honey for example, plus a selection of nuts to give the smoothie a rough texture).
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 2
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter ( or almond butter)
  • 4 small pitted dates
  • 1 cup oat milk (or another form of plant milk)
  • 1 firm banana
  • 6 small squares of chopped, high-cocoa, organic dark chocolate
  1. Place all ingredients in a high powered blender. Whizz until all ingredients combined.
  2. Serve in glasses with ice cubes (optional)

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One Comment

  1. A piece of good quality piece of dark chocolate with a cup of coffee is an ideal way to spend 10 mins! Love this.

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