Immunity Boosters: Tripping over Dark Chocolate

chocolate
Chef Anirudh Amin

Dark chocolate is a lucrative ingredient with cocoa solids and butter that entices almost everyone for its bittersweet taste and superfood quality. This is an exceptional ingredient that caters to sweet cravings along with imparting immunogenic and other health benefits.

Holistic Health

There are plentiful phenolic compounds in dark chocolate that can help strengthen our defense and immune mechanism. In times of inflammation, there is severe oxidative stress which dark chocolate can battle due to its antioxidant dense profile. It also aids in enhancing endothelial function and improving blood flow.

“When we think of immunity, our minds directly go to white blood cells (WBCs). These WBCs or T cells have an increased activity post the consumption of this superfood. The resveratrol in dark chocolate induces serotonin keeping both the heart and mind healthy. From blood pressure management to better cardio health, increasing body resistance, and uplifting your mood, this magic ingredient has all that we have been looking for in taste and health together. Mindful consumption of this superfood helps reap benefits like no other,” opines Neha Ranglani, Integrative Nutritionist and Health Coach.

Cacao Cues

According to a study published in the US National Institute of Health, ‘Cocoa has been revealed as a food with immunoregulatory properties.’ Raw, organic cacao is an undervalued gem that can be utilized in multiple forms to gain benefits. The best way is to consume it directly and feel the boost you get. This rich superfood can make you feel better than a cup of coffee or pastry could do. Consumers who find it much bitter for their palate can add it in small portions in their oatmeal, fruits, or health bars. It can also be blended with varied smoothies or can be consumed together with dry fruits.

chocolate
Chef Tanvi Chandawarkar

As good as dark chocolate is it still has a high amount of fat and calories due to which moderate consumption is advisable. “Not many would know that Dark Chocolate is also addressed as “indirect vegetable” as it is made from cacao beans that are grown on cacao trees. And these trees take about a year to grow enough beans that can make a handful of chocolate bars. Since the ancient era, cacao beans have had a great appreciation and were used as currency during civilization. These cacao beans taste nothing like dark chocolate and are processed for the removal of harmful pathogens and are roasted well for the chocolate flavor to develop,” avers Ranglani.

Chef Tanvi Chandawarkar, Chocolatier at Fabelle Exquisite Chocolate Boutique, ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru adds, “the cocoa found in dark chocolate and the phenolic compounds inside the cocoa is believed to strengthen the defense of our immune system and up our body’s resistance. Dark chocolate is also considered good for a stubborn cough. The Imperial College in London last year found that theobromine, an alkaloid in cocoa, was better at suppressing a cough than codeine.”

Here are a couple of recipes for you to try

Hot Cocoa (courtesy Chef Tanvi Chandawarkar, Chocolatier at Fabelle Exquisite Chocolate Boutique, ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru)

chocolate
Hot Cocoa courtesy ITC Gardenia

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk/ plant-based milk (oat, almond, coconut milk recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons honey (or as per preference)
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated turmeric root / ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder

Method

  • Place the milk, cocoa powder, turmeric, cinnamon and ground ginger in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the cocoa and spices are mixed well and the mixture is warmed through.
  • Strain and pour into your favorite mug. Sweeten with honey as per preference. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Walnut Fudge Brownie (courtesy Chef Anirudh Amin, Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru)

Dark Chocolate Walnut Fudge Brownie courtesy Chef Anirudh Amin

Ingredients     

  • Dark Chocolate 200 grams
  • Cocoa powder 100 grams
  • Refined Flour 130 grams
  • Unsalted Butter 240 grams
  • Vegetable Oil 30 ml
  • Sugar 260 grams
  • Brown Sugar 200 grams
  • Vanilla Extract 15 ml
  • Eggs (Large) 4 no’s
  • Walnuts 80 grams
  • Salt 4 grams

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  • Lightly grease a baking tray with oil spray. Line with baking paper and set aside.
  • Combine melted butter, oil and sugars together. Whisk well to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in color.
  • Sift in flour, walnut, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate pieces.
  • Pour batter into a baking pan lined up with the parchment paper, smoothing the top out evenly, and top with remaining chocolate pieces.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center of the brownies no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch.
  • If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies.
  • After 15-20 minutes, carefully remove them out of the pan and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing. Enjoy.

Check out the last story in our immunity boosting series, Gorgeous Garlic