Chocolate cravings are common. Many of us are “chocoholics,” and most of us, including this Nutritionist, are not good at portion control when it comes to sweets like chocolate. While a healthy diet can certainly include chocolate, when you bake consider using cocoa powder as an alternative.
How to Satisfy Chocolate Cravings
There is a way to satisfy those chocolate cravings while improving your overall health. Introducing cocoa powder, the answer to all of your problems. First, let me explain what cocoa powder actually is.
The chocolate-making process starts with cacao beans from cacao trees. After cacao beans are picked and fermented (to reach their full flavor potential), they are dried and roasted, then ground into a paste. From this paste, cocoa butter can be extracted, leaving the dry cocoa powder. A combination of the cocoa powder and cocoa butter (with the addition of some sweeteners) is used to make the chocolate that we hold dear to our mouths.
Aside from being an essential baking ingredient in the kitchen, cocoa powder can be used in various ways and can be added to virtually anything. You can make hot cocoa with it, add it to your pancakes or put it in yogurt.
Cocoa powder can provide that delectable, rich chocolate flavor while providing you with some amazing benefits.
Low Calorie/High Fiber
One tablespoon of cocoa powder is only about 10 calories. It contains less than a gram of fat, just three grams of carbs, and one gram of protein. In addition to these great low numbers, the fiber content of cocoa powder is high, with up to two grams per tablespoon.
This magical powder contains the minerals iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
Iron is important for carrying oxygen in the body, making red blood cells, and supporting the immune system. Manganese is part of an enzyme that forms cartilage and bones, metabolizes nutrients, and acts as an antioxidant throughout the body.
Magnesium produces energy and aids in maintaining your heart’s rhythm. And finally, zinc supports the immune system while helping produce and develop new cells. All of these benefits are yours with the ingestion of one tablespoon of cocoa powder, which contains three to nine percent of the daily recommended intake of these minerals.
A major component of cocoa powder’s health benefits is the presence of epicatechin and catechin, which are two plant-based substances called flavonoids.
While both prevent systematic inflammation by functioning as antioxidants, epicatechin can also relax the muscles in blood vessels, resulting in improved blood flow and a lower blood pressure.
There is some evidence indicating that cocoa powder can act as an antidepressant. Aside from the taste of chocolate immediately inducing joy, the neurotransmitter phenethylamine present in the powder acts as a mood elevator and natural antidepressant.
Cocoa powder may also boost natural opiates in the body called endorphins, as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is stimulated by antidepressants to improve overall happiness.
Try this recipe which reduces the amount of chocolate by substituting cocoa powder for some of it. It’s guaranteed to reduce chocolate cravings with a lot of calories and fat.
Recipe for Chocolate Chip Clouds
Light, airy and chewy with chocolate chips in every bite – made with egg whites, sugar and chocolate, these gluten free meringue cookies just melt in your mouth.
INGREDIENTS (makes 30-32 cookies)
- 1/2 cup egg whites, room temperature
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 300°F. Cover cookie sheet with silpat or nonstick silicone pad.
- Using a mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together in large bowl at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar a little at a time, then vanilla, beating well after each addition until you get stiff peaks, the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is glossy.
- Sift cocoa onto egg white mixture; gently fold until combined.
- Fold in chocolate chips. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Makes 30 to 32 cookies.
- Bake 34 to 40 minutes or just until dry. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely on wire rack. Store covered, at room temperature.
NUTRITION (per cookie)
Click here for full recipe to reduce your chocolate cravings.