Holidays 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 client favorite “no brainer” Eat Yourself Gorgeous healthy dark chocolate recipes: my warm dark chocolate pumpkin puree and my divine dark chocolate apple crisp sandwich.
Select wisely. Many labels advertise “healthy dark chocolate” but really are loaded with processed sugars, excessive ingredients and preservatives (defeating the purpose of going dark). To get the most health benefits make sure the chocolate is made with a minimum of 70% pure cacao and read the back of the label. Try to get as real as possible with little added ingredients. I always carry a couple of squares in my purse whenever I need a 3PM pick me up or post dinner treat. I also love munching on a small handful of dark chocolate chips (Lily’s brand is a great choice) instead of that afternoon cup of coffee. If you are looking for an easy but healthy treat – this is it. Trader Joe’s also has great pre-portioned snack bars. Balance is key. 1/2 ounce (around 3 squares) is a good snack size.
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 and also great for smooth clear skin. (More Filling Flu Fighting Foods can be found here and Skin Clearing Smart Snacks can be found here.)
- Focus. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the heart and brain improving your thought processing abilities. Brain food!
Eat Yourself Gorgeous Divine Dark Recipes (all take fifteen minutes or less to make with under four ingredients):
Divine Dark Chocolate Apple Crisp Sandwich: Slice up an apple and bake in the oven for around five-ten minutes until the top is a golden brown. Spice up your life and add spices of your choice (cinnamon is a great one). Apples are nature’s candy but if you like things extra sweet sprinkle on some stevia (an all natural sweetener). Then melt ½ ounce of dark chocolate, spread and smack together to make your baked apple dark chocolate sandwich. If you like this recipe, you can find my Cinnamon Almond Butter Apple Sandwich recipe here.
Quick tip: practice planning! Take an hour on Sunday and make a batch of dark chocolate apple sandwiches for the week ahead so you can have a delicious, divine treat whenever that craving hits. I have a client bring these babies to work and she shares them with the entire office instead of her normal weekly crispy cream run.
Warm Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Puree: Use 1/2 cup of organic canned pumpkin that you can find at any local market, and is the same price as normal canned pumpkin. (For another easy pumpkin recipe check out my Pumpkin Spice Pancake Video Tutorial here.) Blend the pumpkin with ½ ounce of melted dark chocolate and heat up in a saucepan for around one minute. Mix in one tablespoon of stevia an all-natural sweetener from the stevia leaf and as always, spice it up with cinnamon or nutmeg. For more dark chocolate recipes check out my Dark Chocolate Avocado Shake Recipe, my Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Video Tutorial and my Dark Chocolate Muffin recipe featured in Entrepreneur magazine here.
Remember, everyone is different, has different tastes, preferences and goals. As always, focus on progress not perfection. Every small change counts.
*A cause that is very dear to my heart is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I have formed a team in honor of my grandmother, Dr. Lailee Bakhtiar, who passed away after a 21 year battle with the disease. You can learn more about my team here.