…Actually, that’s a little bit misleading, sorry…But you’ve already probably heard that dark chocolate is healthy. That’s because pure cocoa contains nutrients called “flavanols,” the strongest of which is epicatechin, an antioxidant! So more cocoa = more nutrients, and it also of course = darker chocolate.
A few studies have shown that dark chocolate even boosts muscle growth!
Don’t believe me? Well, here’s the explanation: we all have a protein called “myostatin” that slows down muscle growth, so that our body doesn’t get out of whack by developing muscle too quickly.
But…what if we could find a way to inhibit myostatin? Would that lead to any side effects (beyond awesome muscles)? This study doesn’t seem to think so! The study showed that the epicatechin found in dark chocolate can counteract that annoying muscle-blocking protein, and that doing so didn’t do any harm to the participants! Don’t you just love a happy ending?
I know many of you aren’t fans of dark chocolate, but are still definitely on the chocolate train.
No worries! While only dark chocolate is good for you by itself, there are so many awesome higher-fat lower-carb recipes for brownies, chocolate cupcakes, and fudge!
Looking at a lot of these recipes (don’t judge me!), they have some common themes: either cocoa or cacao are good, but raw cacao powder is healthiest. Add both almond butter and almond flour, or go for coconut oil instead of the butter…a pinch of salt…
But this is an article about desserts and treating yourself, after all, so I won’t go on about how sugar raises cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (Sorry, I’m done now!)
Many of the recipes I’ve seen recommend coconut sugar, which is similar to table sugar but it has all the wonderful iron and potassium retained from the coconut! So, there’s a find!
Overall, the best thing about making your own chocolate desserts from scratch is not only getting to eat them when they’re hot out of the oven, but also that you get to control exactly what goes in them.
And that’s truly how chocolate is good for you…you make it good for you!
It’s not that you can’t “let go” a bit on cheat day, because you can…but at least you’ll know you’re not consuming scary unpronounceable chemicals!
(And feel free to swap the artificial sweetener out with coconut sugar or cinnamon!)
Last but not least, if cocoa is a no-go for you, I’ve said before that fruit is 100% fine as long as you’re considering it a treat and not approaching it the way the misleading food pyramid would have you do it!
If you’re a real fruit smoothie buff, remember that fructose is worse than glucose or sucrose…but luckily, your favorite smoothie staples, raspberries/blackberries/strawberries, are low in fructose! (Blueberries, although higher, do have the benefit of antioxidants!) If you’re wanting to go almost without fructose in your smoothie, consider squeezing a bit of lemon or lime.
Or, if sour isn’t your thing and you’re just wanting sweet, add natural-vanilla protein powder, a spice like cinnamon or nutmeg (heck, add some cocoa powder!), or maca root.
That last one is a superfood!!
(Between saying that, and only wanting chocolate if chocolate is good for you, I hope I didn’t lose the point of “dessert” too much…But I think the point is, with healthy desserts, you can have your cake and eat it too!)