Some of my most requested recipes involve chocolate, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate one of nature’s most delicious ingredients than with a guide to everything chocolate!
CHOCOLATE: THE ULTIMATE SUPERFOOD
I love to indulge in a little chocolate therapy most days. My indulgence is a wonderful chocolate tahini which I create at home, as well as a purely delicious hot chocolate made from homemade almond and macadamia nut milk. This is exactly the reason why I designed my Naked Drinking Chocolate which is made from the highest grade of premium cocoa. The cocoa bean is a true superfood, possessing an array of antioxidants similar to those found in red wine and green tea. I wanted a healthy indulgence that was sugar-free, supported my health and satisfied my cravings.... a drinking Chocolate that tasted incredible, while being incredibly good for you, too. Both my dark and mylk Naked Chocolat drinks are dairy-free, sugar-free and as clean as nature intended - the way it's supposed to be.
The cocoa bean is a true superfood, possessing an array of antioxidants similar to those found in red wine and green tea.
While cocoa is glorified for its antioxidant content, there are other nutrients in cocoa, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, D, E; and minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and phosphorus.
In regards to surrendering to a chocolate bar - dark chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa or higher is recommended. The higher the cooca content, the more health benefits and less sugar!
When buying chocolate that is good for you, I recommend quality gluten-free, dairy free versions and without any hydrogenated vegetable oils.
I love making my own homemade chocolate by carefully combining cocoa, cold-pressed coconut oil or cocoa butter and a little organic maple syrup. To make it creamy and milky, I add a spoonful of tahini or cashew butter. I love chocolate so much that I have also included a whole chapter on this glorious ingredient in my new cookbook Healthy Baking.
Extra dark chocolate—at least 70 per cent cocoa or higher— is the best choice. The higher the cooca content, the more health benefits and less sugar!
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE:
Chocolate keeps your heart healthy
Cocoa is one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the world. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the high flavonoid content of cocoa has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.
In fact, according to a systematic review, dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure by 2 to 3 points.
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the high flavonoid content of cocoa has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.
Chocolate is good for stress
There may be a good reason why many of us crave some chocolate when we’re stressed - in what may be my favourite study ever done on cortisol, subjects who had 40 grams of dark chocolate per day, for two weeks, showed lowered cortisol levels.
Research also suggests that the resveratrol in dark chocolate, the same compound that’s found in red wine, increases the brain’s production of endorphins, a mood-altering chemical targeted by antidepressants, which makes you feel good and regulates mood, sleep and appetite.
Studies show that consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate per day, for two weeks, showed lowered cortisol levels.
Chocolate can help prevent type 2 diabetes
Cocoa is also rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant that has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation. According to The Journal of Nutrition, foods high in polyphenols can play a protective role against type 2 diabetes. This is because polyphenols have been shown to have an anti-diabetic effect by inhibiting glucose absorption in the gut or of its uptake in tissues.
Cocoa is also rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant that has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation.
Chocolate boosts your mood + keeps you sharp
Cocoa is also a natural stimulant that can help keep you sharp. According to research from Northern Arizona University, cocoa can help boost attention span and mental alertness as it promotes increased blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow to the brain also means your executive functioning – such as problem-solving and planning – doesn’t slow down.
Chocolate makes you happy
Another molecule in chocolate called, phenylethylamine, acts like a gentle antidepressant. Dark chocolate raises serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical in charge of mood, sleep, and appetite - it's no wonder I crave a little chocolate most days as it makes me feel good as well as satisfied.
Chocolate raises serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical in charge of mood, sleep, and appetite.
Chocolate can enhance sports performance
Cocoa is rich in magnesium and antioxidants that assist with muscle repair and recovery. So if you’re looking for the perfect recovery drink, look no further than my much-loved chocolate milk that’s bursting with antioxidants and essential minerals. Naked Chocolat is also rich carob, maca, cinnamon and pure vanilla bean.
MY FAVOURITE WAYS TO ENJOY CHOCOLATE
As a drink, I love to make a mug of creamy homemade Hot Chocolate with almond or coconut milk. When I feel like something cold like a chocolate smoothie, I add a heaped tablespoon of Naked Chocolat into a blender with a frozen banana, protein powder, almond milk and ice. It’s the perfect workout drink.
As a dessert, there are countless chocolate recipes I love, but I often make my Healthy Chocolate Mousse made from blended ripe avocado and my Naked Chocolat. This mousse is absolutely magical – the texture is heavenly, and it takes only one minute to make.
I have actually dedicated an entire chapter on chocolate in my new Healthy Baking cookbook! Some of these include my Chocolate Macadamia Brownies, Raw Chocolate Tahini and Chocolate Macadamia Butter.