With all the goodies out in celebration of Easter, it’s a good opportunity to resurrect some truth about the ingredients in these sweet and snackable treats.
I’m talking about the bright-colored wrappers containing all those traditional favorites such as jelly beans, chocolate eggs, peeps, caramel and more.
We all love sweets. Sugars are a naturally occurring simple carbohydrate present in foods like, grains, beans, vegetables and fruits.
When really craving something sweet, maybe carrot sticks aren’t exactly what you had in mind.
My favorite go to treat is Chocolate. I’m not talking about those silver wrapper chocolate eggs or the candy bars at your local gas station. Unfortunately not all chocolate is created equal.
Is Chocolate Good for You?
Chocolate, before it is processed, begins as raw cacao beans. Fermenting, drying, and roasting cacao beans yields cocoa powder, which is used to make chocolate.
This small bean is jam-packed with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols. Cacao is known as a powerful superfood. A superfood is specifically calorie sparse and nutrient dense. They are superior sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients – nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves.
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 even chemicals.
When eaten, in moderation, dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity. It can stimulate blood flow to the brain and skin and the flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage.
Flavonols are a type of plant nutrient found in many foods and drinks, such as tea, red wine, blueberries, apples, pears and cherries. They are extremely abundant in the cacao bean. However, the more processed cacao becomes, the fewer healthy components remain.
Today’s Effort- Know Your Percentages
The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial cacao it contains.
When choosing, go raw—or as unprocessed as possible. Select fair trade and organic whenever you can. The number on dark chocolate packaging refers to the percentage of cacao bean in chocolate. For maximum health benefit, look for dark chocolate that has 75% to 85% cacao.
Below is a fun recipe to try with Raw Cacao powder!
Raw Chocolate Truffle Balls
Prep time: 20 minutes – Makes 25 truffles
1 cup raw cacao powder
1 cup cashews or macadamia nuts
1/4 cup Almond Butter
½ cup maple syrup
Water (to mix)
“Topping” ingredients: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, chocolate nibs, cacao powder, sea salt, 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 and almond butter to cashews and pulse to process.
Add cacao powder. Pulse to process.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight for best results.
Form teaspoon-sized balls of dough. roll balls in your chosen toppings!
Rather than rolling balls, spread mixture into a small glass dish. Refrigerate. Slice into squares and dip into melted dark chocolate, and/ or sprinkle on toppings.
While there are many studies done showing the benefits of cacao in the diet, it’s always best to keep moderation in mind.
By choosing high quality and raw forms of sweet foods we can still enjoy the tastes and delight of sweet, while at the same time, fueling out body with energy, vitamins and nutrients to make us feel great.
Be proud of yourself!
Join us every Sunday for the next edition of Starting Your Week Strong.
Learn about creating great habits and the benefits of eating breakfast in last weeks’ blog The Habit Of Greatness
Are you curious about how to harmonize your health goals and fit wellness into your busy schedule? Contact me today for more information about Today’s Effort Health Coaching.
Harvard Health Publications
Truffle recipe: Integrative Nutrition, Inc. | Reprinted with permission
The information shared in this article is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any form of illness or disease. The opinions are the author’s alone and are not to be used as a guide to follow for any health related conditions, but rather a sharing of perspective.
Today’s Effort, and it’s authors, take no responsibility for the choices of individuals and encourages you to work alongside a trusted physician and or doctor with any health related issues.