As Easter approaches we are once again left fighting the urge to splurge on chocolate, this time marketed through the medium of bunnies (how tediously Beta!) we know it’s not healthy per se, but is it really that bad and are there actually any benefits we can take from it? Let’s have a quick look.

Chocolate in it’s most commonlysold form of milk chocolate is not healthy and certainly should not be a staple of anyone’s diet, so should you find yourself having a bar a day you probably wont be looking your best, in fact you probably have a chocolate addiction (Chocaholic anyone)?

Chocolate is high in calories with the majority coming from sugar and fat and for such a small snack there’s not many nutritional positives that cant be achieved from standard ‘healthy foods’ (I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as good or bad foods, just good or bad diets). There are however a few very interesting ingredients in chocolate; firstly Phenylethylamine which some scientist believe is what makes us feel good when we eat chocolate as it increases dopamine, it also peaks when we orgasm! Secondly theobromine which enhances mood and has stimulant like effects, similar to caffeine only milder and longer lasting. Thirdly Chocolate also contains Magnesium, which is important in stabilizing mood as well as the manufacture of Serotonin. Lastly and probably the most commonly touted benefit of chocolate is Flavanols, which have antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation and protect the arteries. Flavanols also have the benefit of regulating nitric oxide, a compound known to help control blood pressure and it is this benefit which has attracted the most media and scientific attention in recent years. Currently there is research being undertaken

Now before you go rushing out to stock up on chocolate there are few things you should bare in mind, we’ll not call them rules because chocolate and rules just don’t go together:

  • Don’t make it a staple of your diet by replacing other healthier and nutritionally dense foods
  • The darker the better – for the health benefits above you have to be eating the darker better quality chocolate, as a minimum 70% cocoa solids content. This will also be more satisfying; you wont need a whole bar.
  • “A glass and a half of milk” = Do Not Want, this severely affects the absorption of the antioxidants, avoiding milk chocolate
  • Moderation is key – don’t fall in to the trap of over eating, remember it is high in calories as a snack
  • Read the label – look for quality ingredients over things like high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats, these will only negate the health benefits of chocolate.

If you’re a real chocoholic or sometimes just fancy a chocolate treat then here are a couple of very easy but very different chocolate recipes that will more than satisfy your cravings.

Mexican chocolate chill:

ngredients. 

2tbsp oil 
1lb (500g) lamb or beef mince 
1 medium onion, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
1tsp cumin 
2tsp paprika 
1 can plum tomatoes 
1 tbsp tomato puree 
1 can kidney beans 
1 medium chipotle chilli chopped finely, or 1 small fresh green chilli 
2 small pieces of dark chocolate (about 15g) 
1 tsp dried/fresh oregano 
100ml red wine 
2tsp sugar 
1 tbsp lemon juice 
Salt, pepper 
to taste

Method

1) Heat oil and fry onion and garlic until slightly browned.

2) Add the cumin and paprika and coat the onions. Cook until fragrant.

3) Add the mince and brown for about 5 mins.

4) Add the plum tomatoes (and mash them down with the wooden spoon),puree and kidney beans.

5) Add the remaining ingredients and cook uncovered on a low fire (Gas Mark 2-3) for about 1 hour until thickened and a rich deep red in colour. Stir frequently so that it doesn’t get stuck to the pan.

6) Serve with rice or garlic bread and ENJOY…

Chocolate Fudge Protein brownies

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 5 scoops whey protein powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2/3 cup almond flour
  • 2/3 cup walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whip softened butter with maple syrup.
  3. Mix in almond butter.
  4. Add eggs and mix wet ingredients.
  5. In a separate large bowl, blend almond flour, cocoa powder, and whey powder.
  6. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients while stirring.
  7. When ingredients are combined, pour into a greased 9×12 inch baking pan.
  8. Sprinkle walnuts on top.
  9. Bake for 20 – 30 min, or until a fork comes out clean from the center of the dish.
  10. Brownies should be dense and fudge-like. Don’t overcook or the brownies will get dry and hard.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)