Heart-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cups [Keto + Vegan]
February is Heart-Health month & the unofficial “month of love”. My favourite way to show love this time of year is to get into the kitchen and whip up something decadent and healthy to gift to my friends and family. Valentine’s Day is undoubtedly a time to spoil your partner with love, but nothing really says you care more than making something from scratch. Decadent holiday desserts don’t have to be unhealthy, in fact, they can be quite good for you. These sugar-free chocolate hazelnut butter cups are filled with healthy fats and antioxidants, they are the perfect way to say “I love you” to both your body and your partner.
This dessert is also a great way to sneak a little heart-healthy coconut oil into your loved ones diet. Coconut oil is beneficial for heart health because it can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels while raising ‘good’ cholesterol levels. A 2018 study comparing cholesterol levels from various dietary fats found that LDL concentrations were significantly increased from butter intake compared with coconut oil and olive oil. Coconut oil consumption even increased HDL (know as ‘good cholesterol’) compared with butter or olive oil.
Nibbling on this dessert may even help get you into the mood for a little post-Valentines dinner romance. Dark chocolate has been shown to cause a spike in dopamine, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of pleasure and arousal. It’s high flavonoid content also acts as a vasodilator – increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. The almond butter filling in these love cups also contains an herb called, Maca – which is traditionally used as a reproductive tonic and hormone modulator. Maca root promotes optimal functioning of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, so it’s an easy way to help balance female hormones estradiol and progesterone. It also works well for men, but these effects are not due to hormone modulation. In a recent study, researchers gave adult men either a placebo or Maca root (3 g/day). After eight weeks the group taking Maca supplements reported improved sexual desire.
Heart-healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cups [Keto + Vegan]
These sugar-free chocolate hazelnut butter cups are filled with healthy fats and antioxidants, they are the perfect way to say “I love you” to both your body and your partner.
Gently heat the almond butter, 1/3 cup coconut oil, vanilla, maca (if using), monkfruit / maple syrup and cinnamon on low heat for around 10 minutes or until everything is melted and well mixed. In the meantime use a separate pot to heat the chocolate chips and the remaining 1/3 cup coconut oil over low-medium heat until the chocolate is fully melted. Grab a mini muffin tin, or heart shaped mold if you're feeling fancy, and pour around 1 tsp of the melted chocolate mixture into each mini mold. Throw your mold into the freezer for 10 minutes until the chocolate settles and cools, then top the base layer of chocolate with your hazelnut almond mixture, using about 1 tbs nut butter per mold. Return your tray to the freezer to set the hazel nut butter layer, then top with the remaining melted chocolate and sprinkle with flakey sea salt. Return to the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes. These treats keep well in the freezer for 1 - 2 months, or for around 1 week in the fridge. Happy Valentines day from this doctor's kitchen.
- Khaw, et al. Randomized trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2018
- Mensink, R.P et al. Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 201
- N.A. et al. “Beneficial Effects of Lepidium Meyenii on Psychological Symptoms and Measure of Sexual Dysfunction in Postmenopausal Women Are Not Related to Estrogen or Androgen Content,” Menopause (2008) 15:1157.