Eat Chocolate

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Dark chocolate. An ounce or so a few times a week (to borrow Michael Pollan’s formula). For many of us, this little prescription flies in the face of a decades-deep divide between what we want to eat (chocolate) and what we feel we should eat (carrot sticks and celery). But nature didn’t intend it to be that way.

The cocoa in chocolate, like most plant-based foods, boasts a cocktail of compounds that fall under the collective category of phytonutrients (which simply means “plant nutrients”). There are thousands and thousands of phytonutrients that impact our health in all sorts of ways, from lowering blood pressure to preventing cancer to boosting the immune system. The irony is, these little powerhouses are also what make plant-based foods look and smell and taste the way they do. Think about that a second; the very stuff that makes food pleasurable is also making us healthy. Now there’s a paradigm shift.

So back to that chocolate.

I could go into the details of which phytonutrients play a role in making chocolate so healthy and cite statistics of how much they lower the risk of this or that. Or I could just tell you that if you finished off a few evenings this week savoring a square or two of dark chocolate* it would be a very good thing.

* This is one time you’ll want to look at the label. It’s the cocoa in chocolate that packs the nutritional punch, so a good rule of thumb is to choose dark chocolate bars with a cocoa content higher than 50%. Sugar may sweeten the deal, but it also adds empty calories. If you’re not yet used to dark chocolate’s strong taste you’re in for a treat; it can be enticingly complex and nuanced. Keep it interesting by experimenting with several brands and flavors.

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Chocolate Crostini with Orange Zest and Sea Salt

I’m of the notion that a simple square of good dark chocolate is a treat in and of itself. But if you feel like dressing it up a bit, this is an easy, elegant way to do it.


3 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus additional for garnish
1/4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
12 thin baguette slices, toasted
medium-coarse sea salt

Melt the chocolate with the orange zest and olive oil in a small, heavy-bottom pot over ultra-low heat (if you’re a double boiler-lover, feel free to use one here), swirling it around occasionally. Give it all a good stir once it’s super soft but not completely melted, and take it off the heat.

Spread chocolate mixture on baguette slices and sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt. Garnish with long, thin strips of orange zest if you like.

Makes 12 crostini