By Karla Gilbert
Karla Gilbert is an accredited Nutrition and Health Coach, and a mum of two girls. She shares her top tips for healthy chocolate treats,
Around Easter time, chocolate takes up a lot of supermarket real estate and the eggs and bunnies can be very tempting. You may have heard that chocolate has many benefits – but unfortunately this does not refer to standard milk chocolate varieties. Studies that boast of chocolate’s amazing health benefits are referring to an ingredient in dark chocolate called raw cacao.
Cacao powder is packed with nutrients, magnesium, iron, antioxidants and polyphenols to help support your health every day. It is also rich in antioxidants, supports your natural immunity, is high in magnesium to support healthy muscles, heart and stress levels, plus a good source of iron for energy and fibre for digestive health.
A benefit that that I love is it naturally contains neurotransmitters that boost your mood if consumed – similar to coffee but without the effects of caffeine. Be careful not to confuse raw cacao for baking cocoa powder with the latter being processed and roasted at high temperatures (rather than cold pressed). Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cacao bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value of cacao.
To help limit a sugar overload, but you still want to enjoy a chocolate treat, perhaps you could involve the children in making some healthy chocolate treats… with cacao!
Check out my favourite recipes below, easy to make with children.
1. Rich and Velvety Chocolate and Zucchini Muffins
Although these chocolate and zucchini muffins look very indulgent, they hide a secret. These chocolatey treats contain no processed sugars or oils but it’s what you can’t see that matters. Grated zucchini and natural yoghurt give these muffins a rich texture without heaviness which makes a great chocolate muffin alternative. Who knew you could have a serving of greens with your chocolate!
- 1 cup pitted dates, diced or processed
- 2 x medium zucchinis, grated
- 2 x free-range eggs
- 2 x teaspoons bi-carb soda
- ½ cup natural yoghurt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup rice malt syrup
- 4 tablespoons cacao powder
- 2 x cups self-raising flour
- Pinch salt
- Choc chips for mixing in (optional)
How to Make:
- Preheat fan-forced oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk rice malt, eggs, and vanilla. Add dates, yoghurt and stir to combine. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cacao, bi-carb soda, and salt. Gently fold the flour mixture into the liquid mixture until just combined. (batter will be very thick) Fold in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips if desired.
- Divide batter between greased muffin cups and smooth tops. Bake muffins at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Cool muffins in tray 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Store in fridge or freezer.
2. Cacao chia seed puddings
Loaded to the brim with goodness and boasting the superfood chia seed, these are cute little morsels full of omega- 3 fatty acids and have more antioxidants than blueberries (that is a lot). They work to promote cellular repair, maintain healthy blood pressure, and balance your sugar levels, with the bonus of helping us feel fuller for longer.
All you need to do is soak chia seeds overnight in coconut milk (1:4 ratio), add a spoonful of cacao/cocoa powder and honey. YUM!
3. Chocolate smoothie
Make a chocolate smoothie using raw cacao as a nutrient-dense way to fill up empty tummies with heaps of fibre, energy and antioxidants.
Include a cup of milk of your choice and add raw cacao, chia seeds, oats, bananas and honey. Perfect for an Easter morning pick me up!
4. Raw Cacao Bliss Balls
Bliss balls are a fun idea you can shape in small easter egg shapes. Make them by processing together pitted dates, coconut, cacao powder and almond meal (considering nut allergies, otherwise substitute with oats). These remind me of the store-bought confectionaries but instead much healthier.
5. Chocolate Mousse
Who doesn’t love a rich, fluffy chocolate mousse? This disappears in seconds when splitting between the children yet there is no processed chocolate in sight. Plus, it’s vegan for my friends that prefer to eat plant-based.
- 1x 400gm coconut cream that has been in the fridge overnight and liquid removed
- 4 tablespoons rice malt syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup raw cacao powder.
How to make
- Remove the excess water from the can of coconut by scooping the set coconut out first.
- Then place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Making it in a smoothie blender also works a treat.
- Refrigerate to set in separate cups. Add toppings such as grated dark chocolate for extra decadence.