(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
For the dark chocolate chips:
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Is your Easter basket half empty or half full of nutrition when it comes to homemade holiday chocolates? If you create some bark, you'll go back to "nature" in a tasty, innovative way.
You can go green when you eat bark. This is true even if you don't deliciously decide to include mint or spinach in the mix. However, those are just some of the trendy, nutritious ways you can increase the bite of your bark.
Traditionally a confection, bark these days can even be slightly spicy and savory. It is a chocolate-covered delight that mimics looking like the bark of a tree, but, again, you are completely "green" when creating it, since no actual trees are harmed in your preparation.
What is equally as positive is that bark looks and tastes impressive, but it is simple to make. For most recipes, melting chocolate, mixing with additional flavorful add-ins, followed by freezing is all it takes. The toasted quinoa (healthful, protein-filled grain-like seed) is an added touch to the dark chocolate specialty that follows.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Here are a few other creative substitution add-ins you could use by following the basic instructions in the recipe below:
Mini peanut butter cups
White chocolate chips
Chocolate-covered mint patties
For the dried cranberries:
For the quinoa:
DARK CHOCOLATE BARK WITH TOASTED QUINOA
1/4 cup uncooked red quinoa (or color of your choice)
1 & 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons peanut butter chips
Yields about 20 pieces.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper; set aside. Thoroughly rinse quinoa to remove saponin (bitter taste) by adding uncooked quinoa to bowl, fill with clean water and soak for a few minutes. Use a wire whisk to move the quinoa around in the water, then strain the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with fresh water.
Add wet quinoa to saute pan and cook on stovetop over medium-low heat, using a whisk or spoon to move the quinoa around in the pan.
Once it gets hot, the water will be absorbed and the quinoa will start to pop; this means it's drying out. Keep carefully moving it around with the whisk until the grains of quinoa start to brown. You should see it transform and it will smell nutty. If using the darker color of red, be sure to watch closely so it does not burn. The toasting may take 5 to 6 minutes, but watch closely. When quinoa is sufficiently done, carefully place in a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and add coconut oil in a double boiler, or, if no double boiler is available, melt in a small pot on low, stirring constantly and watching to make sure chocolate does not burn.
Once chocolate has fully melted, stir in toasted quinoa and mix well.
Carefully pour chocolate mixture onto prepared wax-covered baking sheet and spread into thin layer.
Add almonds, cashews, cranberries and peanut butter chips (which will likely melt due to hot chocolate), press down lightly with a spatula to press toppings into chocolate.
Put into freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chocolate has fully hardened. Break into pieces. Store in freezer.
-LemonsAndBasil.com via SideChef appQUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Dark chocolate labeled that it is at least 70 percent cacao is what nutritionists recommend to get a good amount of antioxidants. Besides eating it plain or melting it as an ingredient, you can use it as the base of tasty confections. Spread a square with nut butter (such as almond or cashew) or all-fruit spread and, if desired, dot the spread with dried cranberries or diced fresh apples or banana.
is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.