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.

Coconut 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.