Valentine’s Day just doesn’t feel complete unless there’s chocolate. Since dark chocolate is a richer source of antioxidants and flavonoids than milk chocolate or white chocolate, it makes a better choice for a heart healthy Valentine’s Day treat. To make these dessert clusters even better, we suggest adding three choices of ingredients. You can choose to add them all, or just add one or two, it’s up to you.
By staying away from a cake or floury desserts, you can concentrate the heart healthy ingredients. By making these clusters yourself, you can control the size of them, making them bigger or smaller, or some of both for when you need just a little treat or more of a Valentine’s dessert. For our gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients, being able to have a portion controlled dessert on a holiday can give you just the taste you need without going over your day’s calories.
To make our Heart Healthy Valentine’s Clusters, decide on your ingredients. First, start with a good quality dark chocolate. Next, choose your ingredients. We suggest pomegranate seeds or arils, which are undeniable heart healthy with their high doses of antioxidants and vitamin C. Another good suggestion is walnuts pieces. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and fiber. Another heart healthy choice is pistachios. The salty nut mixed with the dark chocolate is a winning combination, not only in flavor, but in fiber, protein, and heart healthy B vitamins.
To make the clusters, melt your dark chocolate in a double boiler. Then, you can either mix in the ingredients you want, or you can choose to add your ingredients in after. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spoon the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper in small circles, similar to dropping cookie dough. We suggest small dollops of chocolate, which will allow you better portion control. If you haven’t added your ingredients yet, now is the time to do it. You can drop the pomegranate arils, walnuts pieces, and/or pistachios in the dark chocolate clusters on you parchment paper. You can push the ingredients into the chocolate or simply rest them on top. Once you used up all of your chocolate and pomegranate and nuts, put the baking tray in the refrigerator until the chocolate has resolidified and clusters are hard and cool to touch.
The above Valentine’s Day dessert idea is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in laparoscopic and bariatric surgery. Dr. Shillingford’s gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients come from all over South Florida, including Boca Raton, Miami, Coral Springs, Delray Beach, and as far away as Orlando, Jacksonville, and New York. Valentine’s Day is often full of sweets, but at least these clusters can offer you some additional heart healthy nutrients.