It’s been all over the media that chocolate is good for you and thank goodness because you love it like your best friend; your go to, feel better, reward yourself best friend. But if it’s so good for you why are you noticing your muffin top is becoming fluffier with every bite? How on earth will you be able to take advantage of all those health benefits you’ve been reading about without feeling like you’ve just sabotaged all your efforts to fit into your favorite skinny jeans? Oh the dilemma!
Valentine’s Day is closing in and you are expecting a great big heart shaped box filled with chocolates from the love of your life, but you’re also terrified, stressed and feeling guilty before you even eat one piece. You want to indulge without suffering the consequences and without hurting the feelings of your one true love, but how? Here’s the awesome news; you can do it, absolutely!
Your goal is to strive for a healthy lifestyle most of the time and to live by the 80/20 rule, meaning choose the healthiest, most nutritionally packed foods you can 80% of the time and for the other 20% choose the best crap available. In other words; quality, quality, quality! If we never allow ourselves to enjoy the things that make us feel special then we will always feel deprived and dissatisfied. It’s a vicious cycle but the more you deprive yourself the less happy you feel and when you feel unhappy you tend to eat crappy. So give yourself that treat now and then without the guilt and choose quality ingredients because you’re worth it.
But what do you do if you’re a chocolate every day kind of person? What if you feel it’s not just for holidays and birthdays? It is absolutely possible to indulge your desire for rich and luscious chocolate every day. The key is quality AND quantity; knowing how to choose the best chocolate treat and still live a healthy lifestyle will allow you to enjoy small amounts every day.
I have a love hate relationship with the media; yes it is wonderful the way we learn about news and information at the speed of light but there is often a lack of clarity; a broad, blanket statement which has us all running out to buy a Dove bar or indulge in our favorite See’s candy because we’ve heard it’s good for us and has tons of the health benefits necessary for our bodies. What is not being told is the type of chocolate, or more specifically that it’s really raw cacao that is healthy.
Raw cacao? Isn’t that like cocoa, aren’t they the same thing, are you thinking I spelled it wrong? The answer is yes and no; all chocolate starts out as raw cacao, but once it’s been heated (typically anything over 100°) it becomes cocoa, loses the majority of health benefits and for some reason the spelling changes. There is most definitely a distinction between cacao and cocoa.
Most chocolate manufacturers use cocoa and add sugars, emulsifiers, thickeners, preservatives, etc. and this is the type of chocolate that will NOT be loving you as much as you love it. The higher the cacao content the more often you can indulge, the lower content is best consumed occasionally. Choosing dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate is also important. Dairy decreases the ability of your body to absorb the beneficial nutrients of raw cacao and since you want your indulgences to count in the plus column dark chocolate is your best bet.
To reap the anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, cholesterol lowering, stroke and heart disease blocking benefits you must choose wisely. Look out for sugars, unhealthy fats, soy and preservatives because they are the villains in your chocolate bar. Chocolate treats made with organic raw cacao will be your friend and because it’s so rich you will easily be satisfied with less than if you were popping M&M’s. Better yet make your own treats at home with these simple recipes:
Raw Chocolate Treats (made with molds) – Recipe by NourishYourHealthyLife.com
1/2 cup cacao butter
1 Tbsp. raw, organic honey
4 Tbsp. raw, organic, cacao powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 – 2 pinches Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
Place a glass bowl over a pan of hot water (boiled then removed from heat) but don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.
Place the cacao butter in the bowl and cover with a cloth until melted (approximately 7 – 8 minutes).
Whisk in the raw honey, cacao powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt with the melted cacao butter.
Spoon the melted chocolate into five 1” diameter molds.
Refrigerate for at least an hour.
This recipe can easily be altered by choosing different spices and flavorings, try adding some nuts.
Raw Chocolate and Almond Fudge – Recipe courtesy of OneGreenPlanet.org
1 cup organic, unrefined coconut oil
1 cup unsalted, organic, crunchy almond butter
2 cups raw, organic, cacao powder
1 cup pitted dates
1 – 2 pinches Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
Soak dates in hot water for 20 minutes to make them soft and sticky.
If coconut oil is solid, put in a glass container and place in hot water to melt.
Place all ingredients, except almond butter in a high speed blender, blending until soft and well combined.
Add the almond butter at the end so it remains crunchy.
Spread evenly in a container and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
Now you know you can welcome that chocolate bunny into your life and feel good about it, too.
My Promise: I will always strive to provide the most accurate and thorough information available so you will have the complete picture, enabling you to make the best decisions for you and your health.
Bio: As a nutritional health coach, Kim Jones empowers and educates her clients with the tools needed to overcome food addictions, lose weight, increase energy and live healthy lives. She takes a holistic approach; focusing not just on nutrition, but lifestyle, stress management and self-care, teaching permanent solutions for maintaining ongoing health. Visit her website NourishYourHealthyLife.com for more information
 Review Article Cocoa Polyphenols and Their Potential Benefits for Human Health I. Andujar, M. C. Recio, R. M. Giner, and J. L. Rios