HAVE YOU TRIED THIS VELVETY LUSCIOUS DECADENT-TASTING HEALTH FOOD? (RECIPES TOO!)
Now that I’ve got your attention, let me start off by saying that you’re gonna love this mouthwatering post. Yes, this Rebuilding Wellness blog typically shares healthy and healing information geared to help those with chronic health challenges such as fibromyalgia. And this is no exception. Today’s healing topic? Chocolate!
Among other tasty benefits, dark chocolate can help you to lose weight!
It’s a new month in a brand spanking New Year. Everyone’s talking about health foods, weight loss, and whipping ourselves into shape. While many are making the switch to healthier foods, I’d like to give a few pointers about chocolate. These tips focus less on WHY chocolate may be something to add to your grocery list and more on WHAT chocolate to choose. So …
Are you loco for cocoa?
Do you say wow for cacao?
More importantly — do you know the difference?
While cocoa powder and cacao powder are two different foods, the terms are often used interchangeably. I’ve seen various spellings for both, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll define them in this way.
Cocoa: The typical chocolate powder found in grocery stores that has been processed with high heat and alkali (sometimes called Dutch processing – used to remove bitterness and provide a milder flavor).
Cacao: A deeper, richer-flavored chocolate powder that’s as near to raw as possible. This powder – usually found at health food or higher-quality specialty food stores – has minimal processing which allows the antioxidant properties and flavanols to stay intact.
I’ll give it to you straight. Unrefined or raw chocolate is definitely stronger-tasting (or more bitter) than what you may be used to. It’s an acquired taste. If white or milk chocolate has been your go-to favorite, it may take your palate a bit of adjusting to appreciate the full flavors of real dark chocolate. While processed cocoa may taste mild, keep in mind that many of the health benefits have been destroyed to make it so. Therefore —
I promise you that learning to LOVE real dark chocolate is worth it!
Just as with most nutritional advice, the devil is in the details. Is all chocolate healthy? Absolutely not! Can chocolate be healthy? Absolutely! The health benefits all depend on what the chocolate is paired with. While dark chocolate drinks can be wonderfully healthy, you’ll often see recipes that include fake sugars, chemical-based flavorings, and unhealthy processed dairy products. It’s too bad that manufacturers take a good thing and then make the health benefits go all hinky by adding unnecessary junk.
Once you learn what’s good and what’s not-so-good about chocolate, you can make healthier decisions. You may remember that I talked about my journey to find better chocolate in my book, FibroWHYalgia.
—> Here’s what to look for in a healthy cacao powder:
- Low heat and/or minimal processing (often labeled as raw)
- No added sugars
- No added chemicals or additives used in processing
—> Here’s what to look for in a healthy chocolate bar:
- Low heat and/or minimal processing
- No or low added sugars
- No added chemicals or additives used in processing
- Few or limited additional ingredients
- Healthy fats (no fake and highly processed oils)
Over time, I’ve become quite a chocolate snob. I can easily pass up inferior Hershey or similar products made with cheap oils and lots of sugar (used to enhance flavor since poorer quality ingredients are used). I much prefer the rich, powerful taste of real, dark chocolate and the velvety smooth texture of high quality cacao butter or coconut oil/butter.
When you have just a few basic ingredients, there’s an amazing number of ways to enjoy dark chocolate. Whether you bite it, slurp it, or let it melt in your mouth, healthy chocolate can provide a perfect nutritional addition to your day. You’ll notice in the recipe suggestions below that I don’t usually adhere to specific measurements. I add a little of this and a little of that. It depends on what I have on hand. Go ahead and see what combinations you come up with!
Drinking Chocolate: Try this warm winter drink on a chilly night. There are plenty of flavorful options to suit your own discriminating tastes. Add several tablespoons of cacao powder to a cup or so of warmed unsweetened almond or coconut milk. If desired, add sweeteners (stevia, xylitol, grade B maple syrup, honey, etc.), coffee crystals/espresso powder, cinnamon, chai spice blend, cayenne, etc.
Nibbling Chocolate: Try this basic chocolate recipe to make your own dark chocolate (bars or otherwise). Add about ¾ C of melted coconut oil (or experiment with other healthy oils and butters), about ¾ C of cacao powder, and about ¾ C of liquid sweeteners (use honey, molasses, grade B maple syrup, or blended dates with purified water). Top with your favorite treats: chopped nuts, flaked coconut, ground flax or chia seeds, flaked sea salt, dried fruit, etc. Directions — mix the first three ingredients and pour into a pan lined with parchment paper. Top with optional favorite flavors. Refrigerate until cooled (it cools in a jiffy) and cut or break into pieces. Enjoy!
Are your health goals worth researching and finding healthier chocolates? I can’t think of a cheerier experimentation to embark upon!
I’d like to hear from you. What are your favorite chocolate recipes and flavor combinations? Do share below!
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