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Five Easy Ways to Add Cacao to Your Healthy Meal Plan

Five Easy Ways to Add Cacao to Your Healthy Meal Plan

The conventional wisdom used to be that you had to give up chocolate to lose weight or to be healthy, but all that has changed, depending on what type of chocolate you choose. Chocolate made with raw cacao has generous amounts of antioxidants and minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and potassium. Cacao powder, which is easy to use in many healthy recipes, is made from dried cacao beans which are ground into a powder that is available in many stores.

Raw Chocolate contains health promoting antioxidants and tastes phenomenal.

Cacao has been found to actually help with weight loss by boosting mitochondrial biogenesis. It helps muscles take up glucose, and the antioxidants help protect neurons while improving mood and reducing immunoglobulin E release during allergic responses. In other words, far from being “just a confection,” chocolate made with minimal processing can be a healthy addition to your diet. Here are five easy recipes you can make using cacao powder.

Quick and Easy Homemade Chocolate

Healthy chocolate starts with three basic ingredients: raw organic cocoa butter, raw organic cacao, and sweetener, such as coconut palm sugar. In addition, you can add a fourth ingredient to add some of your own creativity. Fourth ingredient ideas include things like Himalayan salt crystals, chili, chopped nuts, spices, or dried fruits. To start, you need 50 grams of cocoa butter, 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder, and a tablespoon or two of coconut palm sugar (more or less, to desired level of sweetness). You’ll need a double boiler to melt the cocoa butter slowly, but the whole process is easy and pretty quick. The result is a delicious treat that’s far healthier than the typical ready-to-eat chocolate.

Easy Vegan Chocolate

Another minimalist chocolate recipe starts with a cup of finely chopped cocoa butter, maple syrup or agave nectar, and a half cup of unsweetened cacao powder. You can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt if you want. Again, you’ll melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler, add the maple syrup or agave nectar, then carefully incorporate the cacao powder and other ingredients, stirring until there are no lumps. The liquid chocolate is then poured into mini cupcake liners. You can top it with a bit more sea salt for a more complex flavor, then refrigerate for 10 minutes or so. You’ll have a fast, healthy, delicious snack at the ready that can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen up to a month.

It’s not hard to make your own vegan chocolate with cacao powder. 

Chocolate Chia Protein Pudding

Imagine waking up to an indulgent, yet healthy breakfast that’s easily customizable. Chocolate chia protein pudding is creamy, velvety, and good for you. You’ll need almond milk, chia seeds, chocolate flavored protein powder, raw cacao powder, and stevia. There’s no cooking involved: only blending, and you can store it in the refrigerator overnight so it’s waiting for you in the morning.

Chocolate Chia Protein Pudding with Healthy Add-Ons

You can think of the chocolate chia protein pudding as a base for creating other healthy snacks or breakfast options. For example, you could add some sliced organic fruit on top, or incorporate one or more superfood powders, like maca powder, spirulina, turmeric, cinnamon, lacuma powder, or chaga mushroom powder to enjoy even more health benefits from this delightfully indulgent, healthy recipe.

Quinoa Porridge with Kale and Cacao

Delicious cacao porridge with the superfood power of kale? Yes, please! This recipe incorporates a number of healthy ingredients that will easily keep you energized until lunchtime. Ingredients include nuts, shredded coconut, chia seeds, flax seeds, kale, quinoa, coconut milk, coconut oil, protein powder (optional), raw cacao powder, cinnamon, and maca powder (optional). Top it off with fresh strawberries, and it’s beautiful as well as delicious and healthy. Cooking is minimal, so you can create this lovely breakfast in just a few minutes.

Don’t think that you have to eliminate chocolate from your diet to remain healthy. As these easy recipes show, chocolate made from high quality, healthy ingredients and raw cacao powder can be delicious and indulgent without being compromise to your health. If you have questions about healthy eating and exercise, we encourage you to contact us at any time.

About the Author: Lisa Jubilee

Lisa Jubilee

Lisa Jubilee is a New York State Certified Dietician-Nutritionist, who has been counseling individuals on sustainable weight management and disease prevention for over 20 years. Her mission is to empower individuals to obtain healthy food relationships and to clearly understand the concept of food as medicine. Lisa chose to create a functional nutrition practice where what, why and how we eat are all part of the conversation. There is no One-Size-Fits-All dietary approach, but Ms Jubilee has experienced great success utilizing specific dietary protocols such as intermittent fasting, time restricted eating, low carb/ketogenic dietary regimens and AIP (autoimmune protocol) in her practice.

In 2005, Lisa co-created Living Proof Nutrition Strength Pilates, a private nutrition, HIST (high intensity strength training) and Pilates studio, located in midtown Manhattan. The inspiration behind Living Proof was to create a private fitness and wellness space, where the importance of nutrition and functional movement are emphasized in tandem.

As of March 2020, in order to continue to service her clients and the public at large during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Jubilee is offering all of her nutrition counseling and support services remotely. Feel free to contact Lisa with any questions: Lisa@livingproofnyc.com