Food

Chocolate survival guide

That's right - chocolate is still on the menu!

Love chocolate? You're not alone. Plain or fancy, crunchy or creamy, chilled or molten; the possibilities are endless when it comes to chocolate treats. Use these easy tips to get your chocolate kicks, without blowing all your SmartPoints® values.

Not all chocolate is created equal
Splurge on good quality chocolate. Look for quality brands like Green & Black's. A good chocolate is like good red wine — it has a brightness that mellows as it melts in your mouth.

Always read the label carefully. Some chocolate makers include hydrogenated fat in their products. The worst offenders are those who make white chocolate, which tastes best when made only from cocoa butter, the natural fat in the cocoa bean.

Whether you choose white or dark, buy pure, good quality chocolate. If you're going to treat yourself, you might as well treat yourself right!

Dark chocolate is a flavourful alternative
Is dark chocolate good for you? Research shows it might be better for you than milk chocolate, which contains dairy. Dark and bittersweet chocolate are unadulterated products of the cocoa bean. For chocolate lovers, they're a straight-up fix.

Not only that, but according to the British Nutrition Foundation, dark chocolate contains considerably more cocoa flavanols than milk chocolate, which are thought to positively impact heart health. Remember though, that most chocolate is high in fat, sugar and SmartPoints. Moderation is key!

SUCCESS STORY: I lost 7st while working in a chocolate shop!

Bark is better as a bite
Chocolate bark (a sweet slab that resembles tree bark) is a wonderful way to enjoy chocolate without the high fat content. Look for dark chocolate bark with dried fruits or plain, thin-sliced nuts. It's loaded with flavour; a real treat with a cup of tea or coffee.

Chocolate is best at room temperature
Chocolate tastes best when it's about 10 degrees below body temperature (in fact, chocolate melts just one or two degrees below body temperature, which is why it can end up on your hands).

Choose fruit-filled rather than creams
Ever wondered why a vanilla cream chocolate has more calories than a chocolate-covered cherry? The difference is in the centre. A chocolate-covered cherry has a real fruit centre while the vanilla cream contains fondant, a creamy filling that is often made from hydrogenated fats, cream and artificial flavourings.

Get crunch without the fat
Chocolate-covered pretzels will give you just as much of a crunch-kick as chocolate-covered Brazil nuts. Each is delicious, but the pretzels are lower in SmartPoints® values.

RELATED: Your guide to nuts and seeds