Valentine’s Day (easily qualifying as the most romantic holiday of the year) is synonymous with chocolate. Extensive evidence shows dark chocolate with a 70 percent or greater cocoa content has heart health and cancer-fighting benefits. It is rich in flavonoids, which help reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, and contains a type of fat that does not increase blood cholesterol. Chocolate also triggers the release of endorphins, giving you a rush of excitement similar to feelings of satisfaction from sex. What better balance than to share this romantic Valentine’s evening with a healthier, more stimulating version of a Valentine’s Day favorite, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

On average, 35 grams of 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate contains 5 percent fiber and protein. That’s before you add the strawberry and quinoa! Stay away from milk chocolate and dark chocolate candies that are loaded with extra sugar and avoid white chocolate, which is not chocolate at all but is cocoa butter mixed with ingredients such as sugar, vanilla and milk solids. Naturally chocolate is not a replacement for fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, but on this day and any day, a little chocolate goes a long way in good health. Recommended quantities: no more than one ounce three to five days per week.

Dark Chocolate Strawberries with Popped Quinoa (Serves 4)

  • ¼ cup uncooked pre-washed quinoa
  • 6 oz. 70 percent cocoa or greater dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 12 fresh, plump, large strawberries with leaves

1. Heat a deep stockpot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add quinoa and using a wooden spoon, stir continually until quinoa begins to pop.  Keep stirring until popping subsides and quinoa appears lightly toasted. Immediately pour into a small bowl to cool.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler until just melted. Do not stir. Once chocolate appears melted, stir slightly. Be careful not to over-stir.

3. Grasp top of strawberry, including the leaves, and dip strawberry in melted chocolate mixture to coat. Place strawberry on parchment paper to rest.  Repeat with remaining strawberries. Allow to rest 3 to 5 minutes then lightly roll in popped quinoa. Return to parchment lined baking sheet to cool completely. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information Per Serving Serving Size:  
Serving Size is 3 strawberries
Calories: 307
Fat: 17.7g
Carbohydrates: 31.2g
Protein: 5g
Fiber: 6.6g
Sodium: 1mg

Susan Irby, the Bikini Chef, is a radio host for Bikini Lifestyles on 790 KABC, an author and specialist in healthy “bikini” cuisine. Follow her at or visit her online at

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