It is the cocoa in chocolate which contains all the antioxidants which are good for you. The antioxidants in cocoa are called polyphenols and have been linked to decreasing the risk of heart attacks as well as lowering blood pressure. Therefore, the higher percentage of cocoa in your chocolate the better. Dark chocolate with high amounts of cocoa solids are the healthiest for you. A general rule is to buy chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa. You can even find chocolate with 85% or 99% cocoa! What is interesting is that the darker and the higher percentage of cocoa in chocolate, the slower most people seem to eat and hence the less chocolate they consume.
The quandary with chocolate is that it contains high amounts of sugar and fat, in addition to antioxidants. Even consuming a small chocolate bar can dramatically increase your daily calorie intake. The disappointing but not surprising news? We should all lower our chocolate intake. If we find it impossible to live without chocolate, especially during certain seasons, we should purchase good quality dark chocolate.
As chocolate with high amounts of cocoa solids have a rich flavour, take small bites and let the chocolate melt in your mouth before chewing to really relish and appreciate the taste. Never purchase a large block of chocolate, because you know that within a few days (or a few hours) none of that block will remain.
Below are a few recipes to get your chocolate fix. We have picked the healthiest ones we could find!
Remember when you do indulge in some chocolate treats, incorporate some extra cardio sessions and an extra Pilates session or two to make sure you stay on track!
Chocolate Brownies by Gwyneth Paltrow
- 2 cups white spelt flour
- 1 cup high-quality cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- a pinch of fine salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 cup light agave nectar
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence/extract
- 1 cup high-quality dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease a baking dish with a small amount of coconut oil.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, agave nectar, maple syrup, milk and vanilla. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, taking care not the overmix (as this results in tough brownies!).
- Pour half the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips on top. Pour the remaining batter into the baking dish and sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate chips. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer has just a small amount of chocolate on it when it is inserted into the middle of the cake. Let it cool (if you can!), then cut into squares and serve warm.
Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding – by Nat Kringoudis
- 1 cup buckwheat flour (250ml)
- 2/3 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp bicarb soda
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (this activates the bicarb and helps the pudding to rise)
- 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/3 cup rice malt syrup
- 2 tbls honey (optional, I like the rich flavour honey gives as rice malt syrup is very plain but you can omit if you like)
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- Mix pudding ingredients together until combined into a batter.
- Pour pudding batter into a 20cm baking dish or 4 ramekin dishes
- Mix chocolate sauce ingredients together
- Using a large spoon or spatula so you don’t damage the pudding batter, carefully pour the chocolate sauce over the back of the spoon or spatula into the baking dish over the batter*. You don’t want to be too rough and break the mix up too much as it may end up with a sloppy texture so just go slow.
- Bake in the oven* for 20-30 mins depending on your dish size until the center of the pudding is firm.
- Take out and dish up.
*The chocolate sauce will float on top and as the pudding cooks it sinks to the bottom of the baking dish
*It’s worth laying a tray under the rack that the baking dish is on to catch any sauce drips that may bubble over the side so you don’t end up with them burnt to the bottom of your oven.
Chocolate Truffles by chef Teresa Cutter
- 300 g (2 cups) natural almonds or walnuts
- 30 g (¼ cup) dark cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean
- 16 fresh-pitted dates or prunes
Coconut, goji berries, nuts, cocoa.
- Combine almonds, cocoa and cinnamon in a food processor and process for 15 seconds until the texture is crumbly. Add the vanilla and dates/prunes until the mixture is combined. Test- if you squeeze the mixture together, it should form into a soft ball. If it does not, add 2 tablespoons of water. The mixture should be firm and sticky, but not mushy.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor and place into a large bowl. Form into into 24 small, round balls. Roll the balls in the garnish of your choice (view the optional decorations for possible ideas). Store in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 weeks.