Photo: Jamar Stephens

Photo: Jamar Stephens

Afiya Francisco is a Style Expert, television and fashion personality, speaker, and brand ambassador. The Style House is a multimedia platform designed to help women approach their personal style with confidence, simplicity & joy. 

Treat Yourself! A Recipe from Joyous Health

Chili and Cinnamon Chocolate Bark, Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting (Penguin Canada).

Chili and Cinnamon Chocolate Bark, Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting (Penguin Canada).

40 days of wellness is coming along beautifully and, most of the time, I've been eating well enough that I haven't even missed my junk food faves. Ah but chips, wine, chocolate – you're not totally forgotten. There are times you just want a treat and I'm not yet at the stage where gogi berries always satisfy that.

Looking for something to satiate, I thumbed through, my fellow The Morning Show contributor, Joy McCarthy's cookbook Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting and came across this delicious nugget: Chili and Cinnamon Chocolate Bark (recipe below). Super easy to make, the most difficult part was waiting the four hours for them to refrigerate. After I devoured... ahem, a few, I felt a little worried that perhaps I had violated my cleanse so I checked in with my industry pal to share some details of this dessert:

What makes this a "Healthy" treat?

Chocolate, when it is in it's purest and rawest form has superfood status. It has more antioxidants than green tea and red wine, plus it has mood-enhancing chemicals called alkaloids. Most processed chocolate is not healthy because it is full of sugar and other additives. This is why making it yourself is the most nutrient-dense and tastiest way to do it!

I accidentally bought nibs instead of powder, after blending the nibs, I think it turned out well, but did I miss out on something? 

The powder is already ground down for you. Some processors will do the work for you but I do suggest the powder to make this recipe. The powder is simply the nibs ground down.

Should moderation be used even with a healthy treat like this? (i.e. was it was it not a good idea to eat half the sheet in one go?)

(laughs) Yes moderation with all things... even chocolate! The energizing affect of chocolate can also be too stimulating for some. So you may want to save this healthy indulgence for a daytime treat, rather than in the evening. Practice portion control. I know it's hard but with this little treat but a little goes a long way.

Any other uses for the pound of cacao that I bought?

Raw cacao powder is also wonderful in a smoothie. I have a great Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake Smoothie in my book.

Chili and Cinnamon Chocolate Bark

1/3 cup (75 mL) coconut oil

3/4 cup (175 mL) raw cacao powder

1/4 cup (60 mL) real maple syrup (a wee little cheat from "no sugar" but as it's real, I went for it)

1 tbsp (15 mL) cinnamon

1 tsp (5 mL) cayenne pepper

1/4 cup (60 mL) raw cashews, coarsely chopped

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt coconut oil. Slowly stir in cacao and maple syrup. When fully combined, stir in cinnamon and cayenne. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour chocolate mixture onto the paper and sprinkle with cashews. refrigerate for 4 hours. Break into pieces. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for a couple months.


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