Enjoy your Easter candy with a healthy twist this year

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Easter is just around the corner and while many children may be looking forward to the chocolate in their baskets, parents may be wondering about how to celebrate in a healthy way. We’ve got the answer.

Cocoa is actually the healthier ingredient versus chocolate. Cocoa is low in sugar and fat while offering potential health benefits. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, unlike white or milk chocolates.

So what makes cocoa so much better? The phenol compounds are antioxidants and known to lower blood pressure. Phenols are higher in dark chocolate than milk chocolate. Milk tends to bind the phenol so it’s not available for your body.

There is good news for your Easter chocolate plans. It’s all about balance. A 100 gram serving of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 531 calories, according to the USDA. If you ate that much raw apple, you’d only be eating 52 calories.

Chocolates made in Europe are generally richer in cocoa phenols than those made in the U.S. Most commercial chocolate has ingredients that adds fat, sugar, and calories. Too much can contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Don’t replace healthy foods with chocolate since most people’s diets feature plenty of sweets. If you like the flavor, add plain cocoa to your low-fat milk or morning oats. You can also try this recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners’ sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

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