Arthritis Today

Cocoa Recipes: How Sweet It Is

Get the health benefits of chocolate in these four easy, delicious recipes.


Study after study reinforces the delicious idea that eating chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is good for you (in moderation, of course). One reason is that cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols. The higher the percentage of cocoa in a bar, the higher the concentration of polyphenols.

These recipes, made with cocoa powder, will let you reap the health benefits of dark chocolate without its bitter taste or extra fat or sugar.

Cocoa Banana Walnut Bread

1. cup whole-wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. allspice

2 large eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup plain, low-fat yogurt

1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil

2 Tbs. molasses

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and allspice. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, then stir in sugar, yogurt, oil, molasses, bananas and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix gently. Fold in walnuts and pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Cocoa Cherry Oatmeal

2 cups water

2 cups low-fat milk

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup steel-cut oats

2 Tbs. pure maple syrup

2 Tbs. cocoa powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/3 cup shredded coconut

In a saucepan, bring water, milk and salt to a boil. Stir in oats, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in maple syrup, cocoa powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes more, stirring often, until creamy. Stir in pecans and cherries. Serve in bowls, top with blueberries and, if desired, coconut and additional maple syrup. (Reheat leftovers with a little milk.) Makes 4 servings.

Cocoa-Spiced Chicken Salad

1 Tbs. cocoa powder

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. honey or maple syrup

1 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. grainy mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

4 cups baby spinach

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 apple, thinly sliced

1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cocoa, sugar, thyme, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Coat chicken with cocoa mixture. Place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet, and cook for 20 minutes to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste for vinaigrette. In a large bowl, toss together spinach, bell pepper and apple. Serve sliced chicken, vinaigrette and sunflower seeds, if desired, over spinach mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Cocoa Sloppy Joes

1 Tbs. canola or grapeseed oil

1 pound extra lean ground beef

1 large onion, diced

1 medium carrot, shredded

2 cups cremini mushrooms, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 cup tomato sauce

2 Tbs. cocoa powder

2 Tbs. cider vinegar

1 Tbs. honey

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. chili powder or cayenne

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)

2 Tbs. tomato paste

2 cups premixed coleslaw

4 whole-grain buns

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook ground beef, onion, carrot and mushrooms until beef is browned and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and bell pepper, cook 2 minutes more. In a bowl, stir together tomato paste and sauce, cocoa powder, vinegar, honey, cumin, salt, chili powder, Worcestershire if desired, and ¼ cup water. Add to beef. Simmer 10 minutes or until thickened. Serve on buns and top with coleslaw. Makes 4 servings.

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