Did Someone Say Chocolate? 2 Ways to Indulge Year-round Without the Guilt & Pounds!

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t think of a better thing to discuss than chocolate. I love chocolate! It dominates the candy aisles in stores on a regular basis, but at this time of year, people purchase more of the stuff than ever. I’d venture to say that it puts the fall pumpkin rush to shame.

The other thing lurking on the candy aisle, however – that troll hiding under the bridge waiting to ambush you – is sugar. If you haven’t figured out yet that sugar takes a toll on your body in more ways than just the addition of unwanted pounds, you’ve got your sweet head in the sand.

This spring, I’ll begin my fourth (Really? Wow!) year of feeding my body all kinds of wonderful things except for sugar and grains. If you’re not humming “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” with your fingers in your ears, you might want to learn a little more about your body and my journey here.)

Yes, I still eat my chocolate (of course) birthday cake. Yes, I still have a big slab of pie at Thanksgiving and cookies at Christmas. Once a week, if that often, I might eat something on a bun. However, my former lifestyle as the Bread & Pasta Queen is over and SURPRISE! – I don’t miss it.

One of the first things I had to figure out was how on earth I was going to get my chocolate – and plenty of it! Chemical sweeteners, such as aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda) or saccharine (Sweet ‘n Low) were not an option. I’d learned enough to realize that would be akin to exchanging strychnine for cyanide. Stevia seemed the only option and, though sweet, sometimes it just didn’t taste “right”.

Dedicated and determined because I had a health issue to conquer, I plunged in, reminding myself that Thomas Edison had far more failures than he had successes and yet, he kept going until he finally got a bright idea!

Today, I’m sharing two recipes that you can enjoy not only in the current chocolate season, but all year round. And, with the FREE printable at the end of this post, you can get started right now!

I have stated in previous blog posts that when it comes to stevia, you get what you pay for. My favorite brand has always been Sweet Leaf and, of the store brands, I still prefer it.

Last week, however, my friend, Sarah, introduced me to the Pure Stevia Extract Powder by Trim Healthy Mama. Again, you get what you pay for, but I found that instead of using a tablespoon of Sweet Leaf in a recipe, I could use ¼ teaspoon of THM stevia! It has no bitter aftertaste and I think I’m in love!  It’s available in one ounce and four ounce bags.

It’s February! What are we waiting for? Let’s have some chocolate!

Not Apologizin’ Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate Ingredients www.midweststoryteller.com

12 ounces milk

2 Tablespoons Dutch Process Cocoa Powder

¼ teaspoon Trim Healthy Mamma Pyure Stevia or 1 Tablespoon Sweet Leaf Stevia

1/8 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon heavy cream

In a Pyrex measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave until hot but not boiling. While it is heating, mix the cocoa powder, stevia and salt in a small custard cup with a mini whisk.

Pour an inch or two of the hot milk into the bottom of a large mug. Add the cocoa mixture and whisk until fairly smooth. Add vanilla.  I call this my “sludge” – a rather unsavory name for something so wonderful.

Cocoa Sludge www.midweststoryteller.com

Continue to whisk while adding the remainder of the hot milk. Add the heavy cream, stir and enjoy!  To make my experience complete, I scoop up Phoebe June and settle into my favorite chair.  Since you don’t have Phoebe June, you’ll have to make do with your own kitty, borrow one or just pretend.

Hot Chocolate and Kitten Time www.midweststoryteller.com

Traveling Version:

When I’m away from home, I don’t like to miss out on my hot chocolate, but toting milk around becomes a problem. I’ve tried using powdered milk in the dry mix so that I could “just add water”, but it failed to give me the texture and flavor I wanted. I’m being nice – it was nasty. I’ve discovered that adding 1 ½ scoops of Reliv Delight makes a wonderful dry mix.

Reliv Delight, a whey-based milk substitute and nutritional supplement, provides the benefits of milk — plus additional nutrients — in a delicious low-fat formula. It supplies your body with a good source of protein and an essential nutritional balance of vitamins and minerals. And at only 90 calories per serving it is also a great way to help maintain a healthy weight. Mix Reliv Delight with water and use it as an alternative to milk — while cooking, in milkshakes, with cereal or simply as a refreshing, creamy beverage. It’s a healthy choice for adults and kids alike.

As promised in the disclaimer on this blog, I’m disclosing the fact that this product must be purchased through a Reliv distributor and that I am a Reliv distributor who may receive monetary compensation should you decide to purchase the product through me. You may do so by contacting me at barb@midweststoryteller.com

This is a great way for me to take a travel mug while on the road and stop for some hot water so that I can have my chocolate fix. All I have to remember is to never leave home without my pre-mixed little baggie of dry ingredients, my little bottle of vanilla and my mini whisk!

Are you ready for no-guilt Valentine treats?

Almost everyone seems to love those beautiful chocolate-covered strawberries that cost an arm and a leg. We all indulge without too much guilt because, after all, strawberries are fruit and fruit is good for you and therefore, legal – right? Those sold in stores or special ordered are most likely made with shortening. (Repeat after me: “Shortening. Is. Evil.”) Not only that, but the chocolate coating is loaded with that ever-present, ever-enticing culprit – sugar!

I came up with this recipe to remove the culprits. The results were fabulous and I’ve served them up several times to people who tell me how yummy they are. I usually make them to share, so this recipe makes quite a few! The ones in the photo were gigantic berries and I had enough coating to do twenty-five berries. If they had been “regular” sized strawberries, I think I could have done about forty! What could be easier than dipping whole berries into chocolate sauce and letting them dry? This, combined with the fact that you get to lick your fingers and that your recipients will think you’re oh, so special ought to get you going on this recipe.

Oh, you weren’t going to give any of them away? Well, just be sure and wipe the chocolate off your chin before anybody sees you.

Eat ’em All Chocolate-covered Strawberries

2 pounds fresh strawberries

½ cup extra-virgin unrefined coconut oil

1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons heavy cream

5/8 teaspoon Trim Healthy Mama Pure Stevia Extract Powder

½ teaspoon vanilla

Scant ¼ teaspoon Celtic sea salt

Shredded unsweetened coconut for garnish

Wash berries and pat them dry with paper towels or allow them to dry completely on a drying mat.

Washed Berries www.midweststoryteller.com

In a double boiler, small ceramic coated saucepan (or a Pyrex bowl over a small saucepan), melt the coconut oil and butter over low heat. Add cocoa powder, heavy cream, stevia, vanilla and salt, whisking until smooth.

Grasp each berry by its stem and dip into the chocolate mixture. Be sure not to cover all the lovely red part! Allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl before placing the berries onto waxed paper-covered cookie sheet. Place the berries far enough apart so they do not touch.

Dipped Berries www.midweststoryteller.com

Leftover chocolate? Consider re-dipping!

If desired, sprinkle some or all of the berries with shredded, unsweetened coconut while the chocolate coating is still soft.

Do not attempt to rearrange the berries on the waxed paper until the chocolate coating is completely hardened.

Refrigerate until ready to serve or give as a gift. Remember, the chocolate coating will begin to soften at about 76 degrees, so be sure to store your beautiful berries properly. I did, with good intentions to take most of them to some cherished friends. But then, we had this icy weather and didn’t get out and, well, you know how it goes…now you know why they’re called “Eat ’em All Chocolate-covered Strawberries!”

Chocolate Covered Strawberries and a Cup of Tea www.midweststoryteller.com

You can share more than chocolate with a friend. How about sharing this post? You can do that through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

Enjoy your chocolate and don’t forget your FREE printable recipes. Just click on the banner below.

Free Printable Chocolate & Berries www.midweststoryteller.com

I invite you to join me for true confessions! Tell me about your favorite chocolate obsession and how often do you indulge.  Scroll back up to the top of this post and “Leave a Comment”.