Be Good To Your Heart With… Chocolate

Be Good to Your Heart with…Chocolate

Experts endorse chocolate for your health. Recipes and more!

The day scientists prove that a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake make a lifesaving power-meal may never come. But they did recently add chocolate, everybody's favorite "vice," to the growing list of who-knew health foods—right next to red wine, and to a chorus of "j'ai-told-vous-so"s.

As it turns out, chocolate not only makes the heart grow fonder, but also makes it grow stronger. Like red wine, tea, and fruits and vegetables, dark chocolate is high in flavanols, which, according to the American Heart Association, lower blood pressure as well as bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

What better way to express your love than with a chocolate-rich feast for two? Here's how to make it happen.

Super-Simple Chicken Mole
This classic Mexican dish gets its subtle sweetness and richness from a dose of dark chocolate. While traditional moles have upwards of 20 ingredients, this one is streamlined—but just as satisfying. For best flavor, make it the night before and reheat right before serving.

3 chicken breasts with bones and skin, about 1 1/2 pounds
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons chile powder
1/4 cup canned enchilada sauce (Old El Paso, for instance)
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (no sugar added)
1/4 cup grated dark chocolate
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon salt
2 cups cooked rice

Put the chicken in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cover with water. Crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and throw them into the pot with a teaspoon of salt. Bring the chicken to a boil, uncovered, and cook for about 30 seconds. Turn off heat, and cover the pot.

Let the chicken poach without heat for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Place the chicken in a bowl and keep the pot of broth handy. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin and remove the bones. Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Over low heat, slowly whisk in the flour until you have a thin, pale-brown paste. Keep whisking; add the chile powder. (The paste will solidify a bit.)

Slowly whisk in about 2 cups of the reserved chicken broth until you have a thickish gravy. Whisk in the enchilada sauce and remaining ingredients, keeping the heat very low, so it doesn't boil. Add the shredded chicken; salt to taste. Heat through and serve over rice.

Zesty Cabbage Slaw
A nice, tangy counterpoint to the rich mole—and cabbage is loaded with vitamin C and other cancer-fighting antioxidants.

1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Creamy Lime Dressing

1 lime
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil salt and pepper

Combine the cabbage and cilantro in a salad bowl. Toast the coriander seeds in a small, hot pan until they are fragrant and start to pop. Throw the seeds in with the cabbage. Grate the zest, the green part of the lime's rind.

In a small bowl, combine the lime's juice and zest. Whisk in the yogurt and vegetable oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the cabbage slaw just prior to serving.

Mexican Chocolate Fondue
OK, cream isn't good for your heart. But this treat is sure to set it pitter-pattering anyway.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 ounces chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate, or chips
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Kahlúa liqueur
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sliced fruit for dipping (such as pears, bananas, apples, or strawberries)

Heat the cream and cinnamon to a simmer in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir rapidly, until all the chocolate has melted and there are no lumps. Stir in the Kahlúa and vanilla. Pour immediately into a large soup bowl and start dipping—fruit, butter cookies, marshmallows, or even tortilla chips.

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Gourmand and hostess Califia Suntree has worked in restaurants, catered, edited cookbooks, and snacked her way across the country. Her foodie blog can be found at