The Nourishment Nook
by Nicole Magryta RD, MBA
To my mother's dismay, there are not many "sweets" in my house. Fortunately for her I am a fan of dark chocolate. It tastes fabulous, but I admire it more for its health benefits. The latest studies show that dark chocolate may be good for the heart and help make blood vessels more flexible. Chocolate contains polyphenols, the same kinds of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea. It also contains stearic acid, a type of fat that doesn't raise cholesterol levels; and flavonoids, which reduce the stickiness of platelets, inhibiting blood clotting and reducing the danger of coronary artery blockages.
This good news about dark chocolate isn't a license to overindulge. Too much of any sugar will lead to weight gain. Hopefully, a one-ounce serving a few times a week will satisfy your cravings. The recipe below is one that my family enjoys and serves as a satisfying snack or after-dinner treat. Instead of offering your kids sugary snacks like cookies, gummies, or ice cream, try these chocolate banana pops instead. Your kids will love to help you make them!
Chocolate Covered Banana Pops
•4 medium ripe but firm bananas
•8 wooden craft sticks
•3 tablespoons finely chopped lightly salted pistachios or any nuts
•6 ounces good quality dark chocolate (like Trader Joe's 72% cocoa solids), chopped
**Look for quality dark chocolate or a brand that contains at least 70 percent cocoa.
Peel, then cut each banana in half crosswise and insert a craft stick into each half. Place the nuts in a shallow dish or on a plate. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over slightly simmering water, over the lowest possible heat, stirring frequently. Make sure the water is not touching the bottom of the top pan. Dip each banana into the melted chocolate, turning it to coat, and immediately roll in the pistachios. Place on a tray covered in waxed paper and freeze for 2-3 hours. Once frozen, serve immediately or store in airtight container in freezer for up to 2 weeks.
*I also roll the bananas in hemp seed or flax meal to give them an extra nutritious punch!