It’s that time of year again when store shelves are full of chocolate; bunnies of every shape and size, peanut butter or cream filled, and my old personal favorite, Cadbury Mini Eggs. If you read the labels of most of these items you will find nothing but artificial flavors, food dyes, genetically modified ingredients, and loads of sugar. What’s a chocolate lover to do?
Chocolate is the only ingredient that is its very own food group.
Well not really, but it seems as if it should be. Powerfully comforting, creamy, delicious—many people eat chocolate at least several times a week. Which begs the question…
Is Chocolate Good for You?
The answer is both yes and no. Chocolate has been used for centuries to treat bronchitis, sexual malaise, fatigue, hangovers, anemia, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, poor eyesight, and more. It also helps release the feel-good neurotransmitter—serotonin—in the brain. But eat the wrong kind and you’ll get loads of sugar, calories, and junky ingredients.
How to Eat It Responsibly
Chocolate begins life as raw cacao (pronounced kah-kow) beans. Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols, cacao is a powerful superfood. The more processed cacao becomes however, the fewer healthy components remain—think commercially produced candy bars and most Easter treats.
So how do you get the most out of your chocolate fix?
• Don’t be afraid of the dark. The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial cacao it contains.
• Know your percentages: the number on dark chocolate packaging refers to the percentage of cacao bean in the chocolate. For maximum health benefit, look for dark chocolate that has 75% to 85% cacao.
• Go raw—or as unprocessed as possible.
Looking for more fun ways to enjoy your favorite food? You’ll love this dark chocolate treat!
Raw Chocolate Truffles
Prep time: 20 minutes
Makes 25 truffles
1 cup raw cacao powder
1 cup cashews or macadamia nuts
½ cup maple syrup
Water (to mix)
Roll-in ingredients: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, chocolate nibs, raw sugar, cacao powder, ginger, or something else you love
• Mix cashews in a food processor until a powder, adding enough water to create a thick paste.
• Add maple syrup to cashews and pulse to process.
• Add cacao powder. Pulse to process.
• Refrigerate for four hours or overnight for best results.
• Form teaspoon-sized balls of dough. Coat balls in your chosen roll-in ingredients end enjoy!