Over the next few days, many people will be buying chocolate. Unfortunately, most of the chocolate wrapped up in heart shaped boxes and marketed for Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a chemistry experiment full of man-made artificial ingredients. Do you really want to give someone you love the gift of toxic chemicals and increase their risk of heart disease?
Here are just some of the “nasty” ingredients found in popular chocolate such as Godiva, Hershey’s, Nestle, Ghiradelli and Russell Stover:
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS):A Princeton University study found that HFCs commonly found in chocolate promotes considerably more weight gain than conventional sugars and is linked to obesity.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Soy lecithin helps keep chocolate smooth and together. Unfortunately soy is one of the most common crops to be genetically modified. Even the sugar that chocolate contains can be from genetically modified sugar beets.
Growth Hormone: Chocolate usually contains dairy, which means that unless it’s organic chocolate, you are likely consuming milk from cows that have been conventionally raised with antibiotics and growth hormones. Excess levels of these antibiotics and hormones have been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancers.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fat): Trans fat has been shown to be harmful even in small amounts and is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Artificial Colours: When companies manufacture chocolates using chemical fillers and fake ingredients that don’t have natural colours, they have to add colour to trick our senses into making us think we are eating something real. The most widely used dyes are contaminated with known carcinogens, linked to cancer and known to cause hyperactivity in children. Also, watch out for “caramel colouring” that may sound natural but is not. It’s often manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds that are also linked to cancer.
Artificial Flavours: Thousands of secret food chemicals can be hidden under the label “artificial flavours.” Some of these chemicals are actually never reviewed by the FDA because they are used in such a small amount.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather avoid these nasty ingredients. An easy way to do this is to simply make your own chocolate treats. It’s fun, easy to do and it will save you money. And more importantly, it is a much healthier option than commercially prepared toxic hearts!
- 1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates
- 2 teaspoons organic peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter
- pinch of fine grain sea salt
- 1/2 cup organic chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1. Make the Caramel: Process the pitted dates in a food processor or high speed blender until a sticky paste forms. Add the peanut butter, almond butter or sesame seed butter and salt and process until well combined. The mixture will be very sticky!
2. Scoop the sticky mixture into a bowl and freeze, uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. Chilling makes the caramel easier to shape into balls. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly wet your fingers and shape the chilled caramel into small balls, making about a dozen balls total. Set the balls on the parchment paper-lined plate as you roll them. Place the finished balls in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to firm up.
3. Make the Chocolate Coating: In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil over very low heat. When most of the chips have melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir until smooth.
4. Remove the caramel balls from the freezer and dunk each ball into the melted chocolate, one at a time. Roll them around with a cake tester, wooden skewer or toothpick to coat. Alternatively, paint the chocolate on with a pastry brush. Return the balls to the parchment paper.
5. Freeze the balls for at least 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is set. These chocolate treats taste best straight from the freezer and will soften (and start to get a little messy) at room temperature.
The inspiration for this recipe came from Angela Liddon’s “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” and her recipe, “Homemade Yolos.”