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Cooking with Chocolate and Chili Peppers

 

by Sanura Weathers

Sweet Chocolate and Spicy Chilies Can Benefit the Heart

Every woman needs a healthy heart, and two foods that can get straight to the heart are sweet chocolates and spicy chili peppers.

Depending on the sugar content and the quality, chocolate can be a healthy ingredient, full of anti-oxidants. Continue skipping the candy aisle and visit the health food store for quality unsweetened cocoa powder, cacao nibs and extra dark or bittersweet chocolate bars. Instead of making desserts, have fun experimenting with unsweetened chocolate being a surprise addition to your favorite savory family recipe.

Meanwhile, spice up your family meals with more peppers. Chili peppers range from the very mild bell pepper to the burning Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (recently named as the world’s spiciest chili). All that spiciness means there’s plenty of vitamin C to help the immune system. In addition, chili peppers can be part of a healthy dietary pattern to protect the cardiovascular system. Worried about serving fussy kids spicy food? Slowly introduce spicy foods to kid’s meals and monitor their reactions.

Warning: Your family will wonder why they’re being seduced with savory meals made with hints of chocolate and warm, peppery spices. Chocolate and chilies are great combinations to add to recipes for a complex flavor, especially for parents who are tired of eating their kids’ bland meals. Read below for tips on adding chocolate and chilies to your own favorite family recipes.

How to add chocolate to your favorite family meal:

  • Mix ground coffee, unsweetened cocoa powder and spices to make a dry rub for grilling meat.
  • Add cacao nibs to a green salad with lowfat cheese for a crunchy bite.
  • Sprinkle crushed cacao nibs over a pureed vegetable soup, such as cauliflower and parsnip.
  • If making pasta from scratch, add unsweetened cocoa powder to the dough.
  • Spread natural, unsaltedpeanut butter over half of a whole grain bagel and layer with sliced bananas. Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder on top.
  • Add bittersweet chocolate chips to granola or oatmeal cereals.
  • Add cocoa powder to your morning oatmeal with cinnamon, vanilla and raisins.

How to add chili peppers to your favorite family meal:

  • For the best flavor, use a pepper grinder.
  • To dehydrate dried chilies, pour boiling water over them and cover for 20 to 30 minutes. Discard stems, seeds and ribs. Puree with tomato sauce. Replace tomato sauce with your chili-tomato puree on whole grain pasta, bean chilies or whole grain tortillas.
  • Add minced roasted chili peppers to low-fat mayo, plain low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt or hummus to make a dip for fresh vegetables or as a sandwich spread.
  • Place two types of shakers at the table: black pepper and crushed red pepper.

Learn more ways to cook heart healthy for your family on Go Red.