We have all heard how dark chocolate is now “good” for us. This was hard to believe at first but the more we learn about dark chocolate (cacao) the more healthful benefits are discovered. This can be a dangerous bit of information if taken at face value. We need to use the products that are pure raw cacao with it listed as the first ingredient. Children generally love chocolate and chocolate treats. Why not make them a healthy option?
On a personal note I began craving chocolate shortly after the birth of my second child. Throughout my pregnancy I had anemia (an iron deficiency). Dark chocolate, as I discovered has a high iron and magnesium content. The body often craves what it needs and nursing and pregnancy come with a great deal of demands on the body. Chocolate is also known to have a great anti-depressive effect on the brain. This could be useful in staving off post-pardum depression. In moderation, quality raw dark chocolate may be an excellent antidote to several issues regarding pregnancy and birth. I do not feel my cravings for chocolate were a coincidence.
Often as parents we may not have the time and energy to develop complicated recipes. Or we may be interested in cooking but feel intimidated. It is important to teach our children an accessible way of appreciating and creating good health. By having a positive experience around cooking you are setting a strong foundation of good nutrition for life. What better way to start than with chocolate?
I chose Navitas Naturals for my chocolate experiment because this company makes it easy and accessible to create chocolate concoctions. Their website www.navitasnaturals.com is filled with excellent information and recipes. It is a great resource for many of the super foods not only chocolate. I called them directly as a consumer -confused as to why the Cacao Nibs I had purchased were not melting. OK, I was stuck at home after a blizzard-craving hot chocolate and had some time on my hands. Their customer service was very helpful and I began to enjoy these unsweetened cacao nibs in yogurt while I patiently awaited my cacao powder and Chocolate Kit to arrive. Navitas products are available at Whole Foods and at the Vitamin shoppe as well as other smaller health food stores.
The Chocolate Kit by Navitas Naturals took all of 15 minutes to create our own home-made chocolate. It involved a very light clean up as well. We used one that contained Golden Berries… another Superfood. They have a tangy flavor that compliments the deep, rich chocolate flavor. We used a little raw sugar granules which added extra sweetness and a crunchy texture. The result was a delicious, tart, and highly nutritious treat . The cacao powder was even easier to use. Simply melt in simmering milk and there you have some healthy hot chocolate easy-breezy! My toddler loved this recipe-and so did I.
Sweet Chocolate Nibs come with a warning that you may not be able to stop. They are a crunchy, sweet “good for you” snack. Unsweetened Raw Cacao Nibs might taste unusual at first, but will certainly grow on you. Eventually one may like them in shakes, yogurt etc. They do not melt which is how my journey began. The nibs add a crunchy texture. They are also a good way for diabetics to enjoy and reap the many benefits that cacao has to offer.
Dr Andrew Weil on the virtues of incorporating Dark Chocolate into the diet: “In this realm of antioxidant rich additives to the diet the one that looks best of all is dark chocolate. It has greater antioxidant activity than either red wine or green tea and I’m not talking about truffles or chocolate candy. Plain Dark Chocolate with a minimum cocoa content of 70%. That should be the first ingredient, cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, not sugar. If you’re eating 70% cocoa content or higher that’s got a very low glycemic load, it is a perfectly acceptable sweet treat and substitute for desserts that have less healthy things in them. A moderate portion of dark chocolate on a regular basis is very healthy.”
For more on navitasnaturals, visit http://www.navitasnaturals.com