A nutritionist helps us distinguish the good chocolate from the not-so-good.
By now, we all know that eating a small amount of dark chocolate is actually really good for your health. But I’m talking about real, low-processed cacoa, not a Milky Way or Hershey’s bar. As with so many other foods in the industry that have moved so far away from the original source, it’s now tricky to distinguish the really good chocolate from the not-so-good.
6 deceptively healthy chocolate desserts
Here’s a fun fact: There’s a difference between cacao powder and cocoa powder and it’s huge, but you can’t tell from looking at it and it’s not just the spelling. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. By cold-pressing the raw beans, it keeps the enzymes intact. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures, which reduces the enzyme content.
Now let’s talk health benefits. If you enjoy the right kinds of chocolate, you could be lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, consuming more antioxidants than green tea, increasing magnesium levels in stomach, and therefore reducing acid levels that can eliminate stomach irritability. Personally, I like having a little after dinner, which helps my mind connect that dinner is over. Like many moms, I sometimes find a stressful day can result in overeating at dinner and afterwards, to appease the pleasure spot in our brain. Dark chocolate can reduce cortisol levels and increase pleasure levels all at the same time. That’s why it can help with the typical crazy of a mompreneur’s hectic day. Best part is, it only takes a small amount to do the trick.
Now here’s the kicker. Not all dark chocolate is created equal, not even close! And like other superfoods, the real cacoa can be an acquired taste, but you won’t regret it.
When shopping for the right kinds of dark chocolate:
1. Try a 70-80% cacoa level or higher
The higher the level, the more health benefits. If you’re new to dark chocolate, start at 70% and work your way up.
2. Look for organic
This means the beans (from which the chocolate came from) are safe and non-toxic.
3. Avoid soy at all costs
Avoid any soy content in your dark chocolate. Soy lecithin is commonly added, but sunflower lecithin is a better option or none at all.
4. Pick low sugar content
If you’re following all the above guidelines, this will likely work itself out. However be sure there aren’t more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. I like the options that are sweetened with coconut sugar or honey.
Because dark chocolate is considered a healthy fat, it can technically be eaten alone and it won’t negatively affect your blood sugar. I like to eat it with a meal or within 30 minutes of a meal as I feel the nutrients are better absorbed, but in a pinch it’s totally fine to eat it alone. Yes, this is something you can enjoy every day! You’re welcome!
Bonus recipe below …
Dark Chocolate Freezer Fudge
1 cup natural almond butter
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raw honey
Coarsely ground pink Himalayan sea salt for dusting (try different gourmet flavor varieties for a fun twist!)
How to make it:
1. Line a small bread loaf pan with parchment or wax paper. Alternatively, set 16-18 silicone mini muffin cups on paper plates and set aside.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the almond butter and coconut oil. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm the mixture, then stir till smooth. Add the cacao powder, vanilla, and honey. Stir until thoroughly incorporated and no clumps remain.
3. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan or spoon into muffin cups and dust with fresh ground sea salt. Freeze for at least 2 hours or until firm and set.