Give this easy recipe a try and share with your patients. Post in the comments and tell me how you like them. Don’t miss the companion podcast 3 Surprising Health Benefits of Chocolate.
Ah…the marriage of dark chocolate and peanut butter in these Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters is the best. If you’re a chocolate and a peanut butter lover, you just hit pay dirt. One of my best friends Ellen that I’ve known since college shared this recipe with me (Susan) a few years ago. It quickly became and still is a staple treat in our home…a go-to gift that friends ask for over and over.
With three simple ingredients and a microwave, you’ll be surprised how quickly and beautifully these Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters come together. Use creamy or crunchy peanut butter, it doesn’t matter. I use natural peanut butter with peanuts as the only ingredient. Yes, you may have to stir in the oil but the flavor is worth it. Sometimes I mix types of chocolate…depends on what’s in the pantry. I’ve used dark chocolate chunks with semi-sweet chips which make a nice flavor combination. Ok, so I lick the spoon. You will too.
And no guilt allowed. Chocolate’s been deemed the most craved food particularly by women who feel they’ve been given permission to pamper themselves without guilt. Cocoa flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in cocoa beans and are members of the larger class of naturally occurring compounds, polyphenols. Research indicates that flavonoids in cocoa may have health benefits including improved blood flow, vessel relaxation, reduced risk of blood clotting and decreased production of LDL cholesterol.
And there’s more surprising news. The microbiome: research presented at the American Chemical Society found that beneficial microbes such as lactic acid and bifidobacterium feed on chocolate, ferment it and produce compounds that are anti-inflammatory. According to researcher John Finley, PhD, from Louisiana State, the body absorbs these compounds and decreases inflammation of cardiovascular tissue that may reduce long-term risk of stroke.
Fiber: the undigested fiber in cocoa is broken down into usable short-chained fatty acids such as butyric and propionic. The fiber can be combined with prebiotics to help change antioxidants into anti-inflammatory compounds. When patients consume prebiotics, the number of good gut microbes increases and outcompete less healthy microbes that could cause gastrointestinal issues.
The anti-inflammatory compounds produced by the beneficial bacteria plus the short chain fatty acids from the undigested fiber together provide a synergistic effect. Adding prebiotics to the mix may boost positive effects even more. Look at the products you’re seeing in the stores: dark chocolate combined with fruit such as pomegranates and blueberries.