Like Justin Bieber and Jason Derulo…

chocolate is an important part of my life.  Oh, and Zayn…how could I forget him?  He’s important too.

But is loving chocolate such a bad thing?

choc and smoothie

Of course not…it’s all about balance!   My life is filled with green drinks, lots of fresh veggies, and plenty of healthy fats and high quality protein.  And some chocolate, almost every day.

Cacao is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, which can reduce risk for chronic diseases.  It also has inflammation fighting properties and is a good source of magnesium. In addition, eating chocolate increases levels of serotonin in the brain.  This is a neurotransmitter that helps improve mood, sleep and anxiety levels.  And the theobromine found in chocolate is known to increase energy.  Sign me up!

Chocolate has even been linked to skin health.  Back in 2006 a study showed increases in skin thickness and hydration with long term consumption of cocoa that was high in flavonols.  It was also shown to offer some protection from sun damage.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not telling you to go eat a chocolate bar and lay out in the sun in a bikini all day.  (Although that does sound pretty appealing right now…anyone want to join me?!)  I’m just pointing out that chocolate is not such a bad thing.

One way to satisfy a chocolate craving is to buy high quality chocolate bars and just eat a few squares.  Dark chocolate is really the way to go.  The higher the percentage of cacao, the greater the benefits.  I have become a chocolate badass and actually enjoy the really bitter stuff, like 90% cacao.  But maybe start with 70% and work your way up.

Something else I like to do is have some nut butter with a sprinkle of chocolate chips on top.  I love to do this with cashew or almond butter.  I’ll just put it in a little bowl and maybe dip some apple slices in it.  This makes a nice snack or mini meal that will hold you for awhile.  Like anything else, watch portions.  A serving of nut butter is two tablespoons. Maybe a tablespoon of chocolate chips on top.  I’m not saying you have to measure everything exactly.  Just don’t eat half the jar of almond butter with a bag of chocolate chips!

If you are craving something baked, try my black bean brownie recipe.  This was a really popular post a few months ago.  Yes, it sounds crazy, maybe even disgusting, but they are amazing.  No one can ever guess the secret ingredient, and they are also gluten and dairy free!  Here’s the link: You’ll never guess what I made

And if you are looking for more healthy recipes that involve chocolate, there are tons to be found  online.  I typically look for recipes that are grain and dairy free, without too much sugar.  A great place to start is Kelly Winter’s blog, Primally Inspired.

There are many days (like yesterday!) where I satisfy my chocolate craving while improving my skin, hair and nails with collagen.  I do this by adding some cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder, even better) to coffee, and blend with coconut oil, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, and some NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia.  (Please note, this is the only brand of stevia that I actually like the taste of.)  So easy and good!  Here’s an early post I did on this: Have you ever wanted to dive headfirst into a bag of chocolate chips?

You can throw some of that raw cacao powder in any smoothie recipe.  You don’t need much, maybe a teaspoon, to get great chocolate flavor.  It works well with frozen sweet cherries.  I personally don’t like bananas, but I hear it’s good with them too!  The raw cacao can be bitter, so you will probably need a bit of sweetener.

Oh, and about that whole balance thing?   You know, green drink in one hand, chocolate bar in the other.  I notice that the more greens I consume, especially the darker ones like kale and arugula, the fewer cravings I have for chocolate and sweets in general.  If you read my last post, I really think the extra greens helped me fit into my shorts faster.

So, can you enjoy some chocolate and feel happy, healthy and hot?  Of course you can!  You will be happy eating something so delicious.  The magnesium,  antioxidants and theobromine all support your overall health.  And of course, combining it with happy, healthy and hot essentials like collagen and coconut oil make it even better.  And that firm, hydrated skin that comes from the flavanols in the cocoa?  Well, that’s very hot!

You know I want to hear from my happy, healthy and hot friends!  What is your favorite way to enjoy chocolate?

 

 

 

 

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