I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a dozen pieces of healthy chocolate covered bacon for Valentine's Day than a dozen red roses. I figured you'd agree, so I went ahead and made some. It's the week of love and I am sharing some of my healthy favorites and what better thing to share on this day, than my love for both bacon and chocolate. But wait a minute, you might be thinking, did she just say bacon, chocolate and healthy in the same sentence? Why yes, yes I did.
My friend and registered dietitian, Anika Christ, wrote this lovely piece about the do's and don'ts when it comes to bacon. If are following a low-carb or primal/paleo lifestyle, I'm sure you're gobbling up bacon with no regrets. However, if you are avoiding bacon because you thought it was bad for you, this article may help you re-think that.
If it's the fat in bacon that is holding you back, take pause for a moment and know that fat is a precursor to many essential hormones in the body and a component of all cell membranes. Our body needs fat to be healthy. Now, before you say, “what about fat especially saturated fat and heart disease?” Know that this theory has been met with growing criticism in recent years. In fact, in early 2010, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a meta-analysis (that's a study of all the studies) with the final findings stating, “intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease.”
I know what you are thinking, “even if fat isn't bad for your heart, it's bad for your weight.” Way ahead of his time, in 2002, science writer Gary Taubes, poked holes in this “fat makes you fat theory”, with his New York Times article, What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie then more recently, went on to write two bestselling books Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat & What To Do About It, which shattered this theory to pieces. Healthy people have been happily eating bacon ever since.
We need to move along to the virtues of chocolate, so I will sum it up with one of my favorite bacon quotes, from Primal Living expert Mark Sisson, “there is no such thing as too much bacon.”
Chocolate is more accepted in the health food category, specifically dark chocolate. We're not talking about milk chocolate or Hershey's Kisses, but deep, dark, rich, bold, smoky dark chocolate, 70% or higher. The benefits of dark chocolate, the flavonols and antioxidants, are found in the cocoa, which means you want a bar that has a high cocoa content. Milk chocolate or white chocolate have no health benefits so don't justify your handful of M&Ms because chocolate is healthy.
When shopping for dark chocolate, as already mentioned, look for 70% or higher. Typically, the higher the cocoa percentage, the less sugar and carbohydrates in the bar. Like coffee, if you are concerned about fair wages and working conditions, look for chocolate that is fair trade. Pesticide use is widespread on cocoa farms, organic chocolate starts the process off right by using cocoa beans that were grown without the use of pesticides. To get the most for your chocolate buck, check the ingredient label, there should be three maybe four ingredients, cocoa, cocoa butter, and sugar.
My current favorite bar for noshing on is Alter Eco 85% Dark Chocolate Blackout, but have been known to enjoy:
- Equal Exchange 80% Panana Extra Dark
- Sweet Riot Pure 85% Dark Chocolate
- Taza Organic 87% Stone Ground Dark Chocolate
I could hardly contain my excitement this past week's shopping trip, when I spotted Sunspire Fair Trade Organic 100% Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar. I was planning on making chocolate covered bacon for Valentine's Day and knew I could lower the sugar and carb content by using an unsweetened chocolate and sweetening with my favorite healthy natural sweeteners.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
- 12 Slices Organic Bacon
- 2 oz. 100% Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar
- 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
- 1/8 tsp. Pure Stevia Extract Powder (or powdered sweetener to taste)
- Birch Xylitol
- 12 Wood Skewers
- Thread each piece of bacon on wooden skewer and place on baking rack. Line a baking sheet with foil and then put the baking rack on baking sheet.
- Bake bacon at 400 º F for 20-25 minutes until done. Be sure bacon is completely cool before the next step.
- Chop chocolate and place in a double-boiler along with coconut oil. Whisk until smooth over medium heat.
- Whisk stevia or powdered sweetener in chocolate to taste.
- Using a basting brush, paint chocolate on both sides of bacon and lay on parchment paper. Cool in refrigerator until hard and then paint on a second coat.
- After second coat of chocolate, sprinkle with xylitol granules and then return to refrigerator to harden.
- Serve cold and enjoy!