Good quality chocolate does not always have to be a cheat food. A healthy chocolate habit may help to reduce stress, ageing, inflammation, increase brainpower, heart health and more. So we should feel good about a regular chocolate hit as chocolate always loves us back (warning: it does love some of us more than others). How could something that technically grows from trees not be good for us?
7 Healthy Habits of Chocolate Addicts
When it comes to chocolate, or any other ‘treat’, moderation is key. Especially if you would like to enjoy it regularly. 2-4 small squares of high quality dark chocolate a day is perfectly acceptable if the rest of your diet is balanced. Buy a block, break it up, wrap in foil individuals servings of 4 squares and then store them in the freezer. Makes scoffing the entire block a little harder for those who might be tempted at a moment of weakness.
All chocolate brands are not created equal. Most off the shelf brands are high sugar, toxic chemicals and low quality cocoa. As antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients are only present in pure organic cocoa, always opt for organic, unprocessed chocolate. My current favourites include:
- Green & Blacks 85% – made with a small amount of sugar
- Pana chocolate – sugar-free and made with agave syrup
- Loving Earth Luvju bars – sugar-free and made with coconut nectar
Always check labels for the level of cocoa in the chocolate. There will be less sugar/ sweetener and more nutrients on offer with higher amounts of cocoa.
Enjoy your daily chocolates squares GUILT-FREE. Deprivation always backfires. When you rigidly put rules on any foods, you’re more likely to crave them (and consequently binge) later on. Chocolate also contains b-endorphin, a naturally occurring substance that boosts the spirit and dulls away pain. So have a small mouthful a day (to keep the Dr away)… just don’t overdo it.
This one is important to the sensitive and insomniacs. Whilst beneficial in many other respects, cocoa does contain caffeine. Combined with any amount of sugar, this can lead to a disastrous nights sleep and very foggy proceeding morning should you eat it too late. Being both sensitive and mildly insomniac, I tend to keep my chocolate love affair to business hours
Mindfulness is especially important for those who have a hard time buying a block and only eating a few squares at a time (again, here I talk from personal experience). Sit down and quietly savour our melting mouthful of chocolate. Gently use only your front teeth to take a bite. Observe how good you feel after eating just a few squares. Then accept that nothing can beat this joy for now, including more of the same stuff. It can wait again until tomorrow.
7. Label Lingo
Feel even better about your chocolate habit but checking the label thoroughly, making sure it is:
- Fair Trade Certified – this means you’re buying chocolate from economically challenged cocoa bean farmers, who were paid for your chocolate a higher price than the market average ensuring them a higher quality of life.
- Organic – chemical free and grown sustainably, need I say more.
- Single Origin – this means the cocoa beans were sourced from a single country and/or farm, which is a good indicator or superior quality (a bit like wine really).
- Rainforest Alliance Certified – here the cocoa beans come again with less pesticides and more importantly were sourced from farms that support the conservation or rare animal species and rainforests.
- Free of Palm oil. The single greatest threat facing orangutans today is the rapidly expanding palm oil trade. Rainforests are being cleared at the rate of 300 football fields per hour to make way for oil palm plantations. Opt for palm oil free chocolate and help save these beautiful creatures.
The Top 4 Chocolate brands to buy (in no particular order)
Go for either the 70% or 80% cacao blocks which are sometimes fair trade. The higher the cacao quantity, the less sugar it is likely to have and the m However it does contain soy Lecithin which should be avoided by those with soy allergies and/ or chemical sensitivities. Also this chocolate may contain milk solids thus should be avoided by those with dairy allergies/ intolerances. Number one for taste.
Again go for the 72% OR 85% BLOCKS. 100% organic ingredients. Also contains no soy lecithin and is processed without alkali.
All ingredients are 100% organic and with the exception of the coconut oil used completely fair trade. It’s sweetened with agave nectar which means it’s a great choice if you have issues with candida but a poor one for weight loss. Excellent choice for those going dairy-free plus Pana offers a great flavour range. Also, its nicer for the planet to eat chocolate with boxes and wrapping made from 100% recycled material.
All of the Cocolo chocolates are 100% organic, GMO and chemical free, and importantly 100% fair trade which means producers earn the money they are entitled to from the product. They also use evaporated cane juice vs refined white sugar. No suitable though for those with dairy/ nut allergies/ intolerances.
Chocolate Chia pudding (serves 4-6)
- 1 cup chia seed
- 3 cups nut milk (almond or coconut is best)
- 3-5 tbsps of Agave nectar OR 10-15 drops Stevia (to taste)
- 1 tsp organic vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 tbsp raw organic cocoa powder
- Tiny pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp mixed goji berries/cacao nibs
Simply pour all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir really well. Cover it, let it sit at room temperature for half an hour, then put it in the fridge and let it set overnight. Sprinkle with Goji berries, cacao nibs or both. That’s it. If you keep it cold it will last more than a few days.