17056352817_61767eb53d_zIs chocolate really good for the heart?  On Valentine’s Day we often gift our loved ones with this simple sweet treat, but some chocolate provides heart-healthy value more than others!

In cooking class this week, our junior chefs will learn that chocolate actually comes from the cacao plant.  Cocoa is made from the seeds of the plant and it is what we find in our chocolate products.  The less sugar and higher the cocoa content found in chocolate provides anti-inflammatory antioxidants that can imprCacao image from the storyofchocolate.comove blood flow and prevent heart disease.  So this Valentine’s Day, if you want to add heart-healthy value to your  box of chocolates, choose dark chocolate!

You and your loved ones can also warm up with a cup of aromatic hot cocoa and No-Bake Carrot Cake Cookies in this delectable recipe:

Ingredients (serves 8):

Carrot Cake Cookies

  • 1 c oats + 1/4 c reserved
  • 1/2 c grated carrots
  • 1/2 c dates
  • 1/4 c raisins + 1/4 c reserved
  • 6T brown sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c dark chocolate chips

Hot Cocoa

  • 4 cups soy milk
  • 6 oz chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 t ginger
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 2-3 T brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Chop dates and grate carrots.
  2. Add 1 c oats and carrots to food processor.  Add all other ingredients except reserved raisins, oats and chocolate chips.
  3. Remove dough and stir in raisins and chocolate chips.
  4. Stir in remaining oats.
  5. Form into balls and gently flatten with palm of hand.
  6. Cut into heart shapes with cookie cutter.
  7. Put in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Chop chocolate or use grater for chocolate flakes.
  9. Add chocolate to pot and simmer on low.
  10. Pour milk into pot and stir continuously.
  11. Add spices and stir.
  12. Inhale the rich aromatics emanating from the hot cocoa drink, serve cookies and enjoy!