With Valentine’s Day upon us and the newspapers and magazines swelling with recipes for chocolate treats to make for your sweetie or yourself, those of us who subscribe to the low carb philosophy may be seeing red. Flashing red lights, that is, warning us that we must either abandon our healthy regimen or deny ourselves these chocolaty pleasures. The problem, of course, with all traditionally made chocolate treats is not in the chocolate itself (which exhibits beneficial antioxidant properties,) but in the sugar that sweetens it to make it palatable to our modern taste buds.
The need to sweeten chocolate is contrary to the way it was originally consumed. The early Mayan people, who first harnessed the joys of chocolate, weren’t the wimps we are and drank their magical chocolate concoction straight in all its bitter magnificence, often coupled with ground hot chili powder to give it even greater power. Served that way, chocolate would be purely healthy, but while I really enjoy dark bittersweet chocolate, I’m a bit of a bitter wimp myself and, healthy or not, I’m not sure I’m up to downing cups of it in its native state. Just typing the words makes my mouth pucker.
(To read more about the history of chocolate, click here.)
Apparantly , even the Aztecs (who called their drink xocotl, from which our word comes down to us) added a little vanilla and honey to soften the bitter bite.
Now, I have to say I do enjoy adding a dash of cayenne pepper to lightly (and artificially) sweetened thick hot chocolate; the peppery touch is an unexpected, but totally pleasant surprise alongside the slight sweetness that disguises the subtle dark chocolate bitterness beneath it. This combo is in the manner of the chocolate that Juliette Binoche stirred up for Johnny Depp (or at least that her character did for his) in the movie Chocolat. This is one of my all-time favorite movies, one I love to watch again and again–and one that once again proves what a wonderful actor Johnny Depp is. If you were on a desert island a few years back and didn’t get around to seeing that movie, it would make a great Valentine evening’s entertainment. But be sure to have the makings of some rich hot chocolate on hand; if you love chocolate, this movie will make your mouth water. I’d say, make a pot of it to enjoy with the movie–whether you add the a dash of cayenne or not.
Whatever your Valentine’s Day plans might be, to help you get into the Valentine spirit without abandoning your healthy eating goals, check out the recipes for sinfully rich chocolate delights on our www.lowcarbcookworx website. We devoted an entire episode of the series (Episode 26, Calling All Chocoholics) to the topic. You’ll find recipes there for our healthy, silky, rich Parisian-style Hot Choc-co-late, creamy Decadent Espresso Chocolate Mousse, and a Flourless Chocolate Cake that’s so profoundly chocolatey just a tiny slice will flip your chocolate switch to ‘satisfied’. These recipes also appear in our PBS series’ companion cookbook, The Low Carb CookwoRx Cookbook, available at bookstores nationwide, through online retailers, such as Amazon.com, or from the show’s website.
So this Valentine’s Day, be truly sweet to your sweetie (and yourself). Surprise him or her with chocolate, the healthy way.