Chocolate lovers (and fans of Great Chocolate Showdown), this one is for you!The terms chocolate and health are not often used together, but research suggests that you don’t have to cut chocolate out of your diet to eat healthy – you just have to be a bit smarter about how you use it. Science says eating cocoa can give your immune system a boost, reduce your risk of heart disease and help alleviate inflammation (among other benefits). With this in mind, read on to discover how to get a little more chocolate into your diet.
Cocoa beans are quite bitter naturally so most chocolate products contain added sugar and fat. These ingredients taste great, but need to be consumed in moderation. The good news is that a variety of research on consuming dark chocolate with at least 60 to 70 per cent cocoa, like this one from the journal, Clinical Nutrition suggests a wide range of potential health benefits including reduced inflammation, possible lowering of blood pressure and even improved insulin sensitivity. So, when enjoying chocolate keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the better.
Related: Five Unconventional Chocolate Pairings That Steve Hodge Loves
Chocolate and fruit
Is there anything that chocolate can’t make better? Pair your chocolate with some fresh fruit for a boost of nutrients. Enjoy fresh strawberries, raspberries or blueberries dipped in any type of chocolate you like. The possibilities are endless.
Get the Recipe: Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas
Did you know that you can make your own chocolate tea by steeping cocoa nibs in hot water? This makes a smooth and mild chocolate tea that is excellent sweetened with milk and sugar. This tea is the perfect pick-me-up when those chocolate cravings hit! Chocolate also pairs incredibly well with a wide variety of teas, like Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe and Matcha. Tip: Matcha’s bitterness and earthiness works well with the sweetness from chocolate, so try semi-sweet or white chocolate to balance out the tea.
Related: These Matcha White Chocolate Oat Muffins Will Help Makeover Your Breakfast Routine
Going plant-based is also an option when it comes to chocolate. It’s no wonder that vegan chocolate is in high demand. To make your own at home, just replace the traditional dairy in chocolatey treats with avocado, pumpkin puree, nuts, or a plant-based dairy option.
Related: Steve Hodge’s Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Ganache Bonbons
Did you know? Raw cocoa is actually bitter, not sweet. So adding the ingredient to savoury dishes pairs well. Like in this coffee mole with shrimp recipe. The sauce is a thick and savory ancho chili and chocolate sauce made with chilis, raisins, nuts, seeds and Mexican chocolate.
Related: Expert Chocolate Tips to Master Now
Trying to avoid gluten in your diet but you can’t stop thinking about tasty chocolate treats? We have you covered! Cocoa powder is naturally gluten-free so you can still have plenty of decedent and rich chocolate desserts. Bake using cocoa powder with quinoa or other gluten-free flours and you are good to go.
Get the recipe: This Easy Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake Recipe Requires Just 10 Ingredients
Veggies + chocolate = love
Who says that vegetables and chocolate can’t go together? Add beets and sweet potatoes to chocolate cakes and cookies for texture, flavour and a pop of colour.
Get the recipe: A Red Velvet Dutch Baby is the Sweetest Breakfast
Just a taste
At the end of the day, it is never healthy to deprive yourself of something you love to eat! If you can’t stop thinking about that piece of chocolate cake, cut yourself a slice and enjoy it! Life and healthy eating isn’t about depriving yourself, it’s about moderation and balance. After all, chocolate is good for the soul.
Photos courtesy of Pexels and Getty Images.
Watch the season premiere of Great Chocolate Showdown on Tuesday, March 1 at 9PM ET/PT. Stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.