I must have missed the day of dietitian-school when we gave up our sweet tooth (teeth) and pledged to forever consider an apple as a decadent dessert. Every day, I have a small treat. And, I recommend that most of my clients do as well. An athlete’s gotta eat, right? Not bad timing, considering Halloween is just around the corner.
But take note, this is a daily small treat.
If you’ll give it a try, you may just find that High Polyphenol dark chocolate, with 70% or more cocoa makes a satisfying and (even) nutritious dessert. And before you know it, you’ll feel exceptionally sophisticated and polished compared to all those cheap-milk-chocolate-eating chronically-inflamed Neanderthals around you…
Recipe(s) of the week: High Polyphenol Dark Chocolate 3 Ways for a Quick Dessert!
1) Chocolate “Covered” Cherries
Thaw 1 cup frozen cherries in the microwave. Add ½ oz 70%+ cocoa dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces). Return to microwave and heat until chocolate is soft or melted. Devour.
2) Almond Joy-ish Treat:
Top ½ ounce 70%+ cocoa dark chocolate with ½ Tbsp semi-hard coconut oil (may have to heat slightly to soften first) and an almond. Enjoy.
3) Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies (adapted from http://www.elanaspantry.com/dairy-free-gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies/):
2 ½ cups almond flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons organic butter, melted
4 tablespoons organic coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 Tbsp honey
1 cup dark chocolate chips, 70%+ cocoa
- Allow almond flour, which should be refrigerated, to warm to room temperature
- Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
- Stir together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl
- Mix wet ingredients into dry
- Form 1″ balls and press onto a parchment lined or oiled baking sheet
- Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes
- Cool and serve (Make 24 cookies)
Mmmmm, Chocolate. Just a few years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to look someone in the eye and honestly say that I enjoyed dark chocolate. But now, I absolutely can and do. If you’ve never given it a chance, you may be surprised that your taste buds can “change” to regard dark chocolate as rich and delicious and milk chocolate as too-sugary and sweet. And, I’m talking very-dark chocolate with 70% or more cocoa. It goes way beyond great taste…it is a functional food, with polyphenols high enough to rival fruits, vegetables and wine. Its nutrients promote health and reduce risk of disease. Here’s how:
Dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa) contains dietary polyphenols. These antioxidants reduce inflammation and make cells more sensitive to insulin. Both of these factors are super-important to the athlete.
First, inflammation is an issue for cellular health, whole body health, and recovery. When you think of inflamed cells, think of angry, out-of-control, destructive cells that simply do not function right. When we eat foods and nutrients that are anti-inflammatory, they can calm these cells and create a balance in our bodies that responds better to all the chemical reactions and toxins we throw at it. As hard-breathing athletes, we throw a lot of chemical reactions at our cells. What’s more, by reducing cellular inflammation you may reduce fat storage, sluggish metabolisms, fatigue, chronic disease, and slow recovery.
Then, there’s the whole insulin-sensitivity issue. The more sensitive cells are to insulin, the healthier they are and less likely to store fat. They “use” carbs better, when you need energy, and replenish glycogen stores more efficiently for that upcoming ride, run, or adventure…yes, please. When cells are resistant to insulin, they don’t respond well to blood sugar. This promotes a whole host of problems, including out-of-control blood sugars, disease, and more insulin resistance.
Due to reduced inflammation and improved insulin-sensitivity, high polyphenol foods can improve Cardiovascular Markers such as LDL cholesterol, blood sugars, chronic inflammatory conditions, and even Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And, in addition to polyphenols, these high cocoa treats have other great nutrients to offer. Coconut oil, almond flour, and cherries only add fuel to the fire of anti-inflammatory health.
Still, don’t go overboard. Dark chocolate calories can still add up – keep it to 1 oz. or less for a once-a-day treat. If Lance couldn’t eat all he wanted to after all his riding, we surely can’t either (“Pro cyclists literally starve themselves. If you want to be the best, that’s what you do. That’s what I did. I cannot tell you how many nights you just go to bed hungry.” –Lance Armstrong) – Yikes.
When choosing dark chocolate, make sure you see a percentage stated at 70% cocoa or higher. If it’s not on the label, it’s likely much lower. The names “dark chocolate” and “semi-sweet” chocolate only indicate a minimum cocoa level of 35%. So, shop around and look for the percentage.
If you don’t think you like dark chocolate, and prefer milk chocolate, keep giving it a chance…you may “reset” your taste buds and sooner or later prefer the dark! If you’re already on board with High-Polyphenol Dark Chocolate, let us know how you enjoy it, and what are your favorite brands?
Give your body what it needs for great energy and health every day and during training with the right Foods, Drinks and Supplements. If you would like my help with it, I offer comprehensive plans as Instant Downloads and as Custom Clients starting at just $20. And, as a FuelRightBlog reader, get a further discount with coupon code: password-frblog username-reader. I’d love to work with you!
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