Halloween and the numerous holidays coming up are a time for friends, family and memories to be made. Depriving yourself of certain foods tend to lead you to overeat the foods you forbid in the first place and then deprive yourself of them again. An unhealthy cycle. How do you enjoy yourself while being healthy? Become a fan of dark chocolate. I also have included two of my favorite no brainer (twenty minutes or less) healthy dark chocolate recipes(think dark chocolate pumpkin puree).
Select wisely. Many labels advertise “healthy dark chocolate” but really are loaded with processed sugars (defeating the purpose of going dark). Make sure the chocolate is made with a minimum of 70% pure cocoa and read the back of the label. Try to get as real as possible with little added ingredients. Ghirardelli “intense dark” squares are a good name brand choice. I always carry a square in my purse whenever I need a 3PM pick me up or post dinner treat. If you are looking for an easy but healthy Halloween treat; this is it. Trader Joe’s also has great portioned snack sized bars. Just because dark chocolate has incredible health benefits does not mean you can go to town! Around 1-2 squares (1/2-1 ounce) is a good size. Moderation is key.
BEAUTIFUL benefits of going dark:
- Beat cavities. Dark chocolate contains Theobromine, a compound that hardens your tooth enamel, lowering the risk of cavities.
- Feel good. Dark Chocolate triggers the release of “feel good” hormones in your brain. The same “feel good” hormones that get released after you do physical activity or when you are falling in love.
- Control Cravings. This delicious delight does not spike your blood sugar levels. What does that mean? You will have more stable energy levels throughout the day, and not have that sudden crash you normally get with other candy. Most candies contain tons of sugars and hidden preservatives that make it very hard to tell when you are actually full. So you just keep munching and suddenly the bag is empty!
- Fight the flu. Dark chocolate contains zinc (which most people lack in their diet). Zinc is a mineral superstar when it comes to boosting your immune system. (For more flu fighting foods see my old post Fall Flu Fighting Foods.)
- Focus. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the heart and brain improving your thought processing abilities. Brain food!
No Brainer Divine Dark Recipes (all take twenty minutes or less to make):
Dark Chocolate Apple Crisp Sandwich: Slice up apples and bake in the oven for around fifteen minutes until the top is a golden brown. Add spices of your choice (nutmeg is a great one). Apples are natures candy but if you like things extra sweet sprinkle on some stevia (an all natural sweetener). Then melt ½-1 ounce of dark chocolate, spread and smack together to make your baked apple dark chocolate sandwich. For more variety you can add in seasonal cranberries (which are loaded with cancer fighting antioxidants).
Warm Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Puree: Use around one cup of organic canned pumpkin (which is the same price as normal canned pumpkin and you can buy at any market). Then blend with melted dark chocolate and heat up in saucepan for around two minutes. If desired, add Greek yogurt or almond milk for a thicker texture and heart healthy almond slivers for an extra crunch. If the combination of pumpkin and dark chocolate is too bitter for you simply sweeten with stevia or a dollop of agave extract.