Chocolate is enjoyed by both children as well as adults and is often looked at as a treat or something that should be forbidden. Chocolate is also often associated with being a guilty pleasure, however, it can be just as nutritious as it is enjoyable. You just need to know a little bit about chocolate before you jump into incorporating it into your healthy lifestyle.
Chocolate consists of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. In general, there are 5 types of chocolate:
Cacao Nibs: cocoa beans ground up into bits (least processed)
Cocoa Powder: Only cocoa solids
Dark Chocolate: most Cocoa solids + cocoa butter
Milk Chocolate: less cocoa solids + cocoa butter
White Chocolate: only cocoa butter (most processed)
The nutrition benefit is found in the cocoa solids in the form of flavonoids, which is a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants have many health benefits such as repairing damaged cells, reducing the risk of heart disease, and other chronic diseases.The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids, and therefore the greater the nutrition benefit. Click To Tweet
Based on this, cacao nibs followed by cocoa powder have the greatest nutrition benefit. However, these are also the least sweet. Since dark chocolate varies in the percentage of cocoa solids, the flavonoid content can vary. Since white chocolate does not have any cocoa solids, it lacks the antioxidant benefit.
Not everyone enjoys the taste of dark chocolate due to its slight bitterness. In order to get accustomed and enjoy the flavour, try chocolate that has slightly more cocoa solids each time (as shown by the percentage on the package). For instance, in baking you can switch from milk chocolate to semisweet chocolate to dark chocolate.
Cacao nibs and cocoa powder are not sweet. Cacao nibs can be enjoyed as more of a nut and therefore can be enjoyed in sweet or savoury recipes. Cocoa powder is a good addition to many sweet recipes and provides a chocolaty taste without the added fat.
Although there are nutrition benefits, you still want to be mindful on how much and the type of chocolate you consume as the calories can add up quickly. Chocolate doesn’t have to only be enjoyed as dessert!
Here is how you can add it to your day:
In the morning…
- Add 1 Tbsp of cocoa powder to your smoothie
As a snack…
- Swap chocolate chips in your baking (cookies and muffins) with dark chocolate chips
- Add cocoa powder to your energy bites. Try chocolate energy bites made with only 3 ingredients!
Makes: 20 – 25 balls
- 2 cups dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- In a food processor, blend all ingredients until a dough forms
- Using moist hands, roll the dough into 1 inch balls
- Store in the refrigerator
At lunch time…
- Sprinkle cacao nibs on your salad (cacao nibs have a nutty flavour rather than sweet)
- Buy: high quality dark chocolate. Try and enjoy smaller portions at once so it lasts longer!
- Make your own bark. Melt dark chocolate, spread on parchment paper and add your favourite toppings. Try this combination of pomegranate seeds, coconut, and almonds.
- 300g semisweet chocolate chips (1 package)
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup roasted almonds
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- Preheat oven to 350oF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place almonds in a single layer. Roast at least 1 cup of almonds (use remaining amount in other recipes). Bake for 10 minutes, until almonds are golden brown colour and fragrant. Let cool, remove 1/4 cup and roughly chop. Set aside.
- Remove 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds and place on a paper towel. Remove any bruised seeds. Place another paper towel on top and set aside.
- Over a double broiler, melt chocolate chips until smooth.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour chocolate on to parchment paper and spread evenly. Sprinkle over shredded coconut. Add almonds and then pomegranate seeds. Using your hands, press pomegranate seeds and almonds slightly into the chocolate. Let cool in the fridge for 15-20 minutes until completely set.
- Once completely set, break chocolate bark into the desired number of pieces. Break in different positions to get unique shapes.
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