Tuesday 20 February 2018

Five healthy...er alternatives to chocolate to see you through Lent

Smiling girl with chocolate is on the cocoa beans background
Smiling girl with chocolate is on the cocoa beans background
Freya Drohan

Freya Drohan

As we enter into forty days and forty nights of Lent, are you one of the many brave soldiers embarking on a chocolate free journey?

Hands up, the chocolate addicts among us. You’ll know a chocolate addict because they will be the ones permanently trying to crack their habit.

choco 22.jpg
Broken chocolate bar and spices on wooden table. Selective focus

Chocolate, along with cigarettes and takeaways, is one of the most obvious substances that people attempt to abstain from once Pancake Tuesday passes us in a delicious blur of crepes and Nutella.

Whether you’re going gung-ho cold turkey, or gradually weaning yourself off the crack of the candy world, here are some beneficial tips.

1. Cacao

What if I told you that there is a such thing as healthy chocolate? I’m not lying. The beans derived from the cacao plant are rich in antioxidants, help to lower blood pressure and improve digestive health. Win. Make sure you don’t confuse cacao with cocoa, though. Cacao products, such as nibs, paste and butter, can be bought from health food stores and larger supermarkets.

Try: Adding a heaped teaspoon of Nua Naturals raw cacao powder to a cup of heated almond milk for a hot-chocolate alternative that will leave your skin glowing.

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Cacao powder with cacao beans

2. Carob

Carob is regarded as an healthy alternative to chocolate, because it contains no caffeine or stimulants which can cause headaches and migraines. Carob is also lower in fat and sugar, and contains calcium, iron and B vitamins. Store bought products can be laced with unnecessary additives so do be wary while reading the label- your best bet is to buy both carob powder and make your own treats at home.

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Carob powder in bowl with chocolate pieces on wooden background

3. Dark Chocolate (at least 70%)

As previously mentioned, chocolate can be extremely nutritious and healthy if you make the right choice. Organic, dark chocolate (check the ingredient, cocoa solids must be at least 70%) contains iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and plenty of antioxidants to boot.

Remember, the darker the chocolate (ie the higher % of cacao), the less sugar there will be in the bar.

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Stack of dark chocolate pieces on a napkin

4. Cheat Clean

Show me a person who can resist a flavoursome bowl of ice cream or decadent lashings of chocolate spread and I’ll take my hat off to them. Rules are made to be broken, so technically you won’t be breaking your no-choco pact if you make the right substitutes.

Cleantella is an emerging Irish-owned product that came into being last March and is steadily making its way into the pantry of many health conscious foodies. The blend has only four ingredients - Hazelnut butter, casein protein powder, raw cacao powder and coconut oil - making it a more waist-line friendly addition to your diet. (Selected health shops and online via Notjustnutz.ie)

Meanwhile, award winning Nobó is a dairy-free alternative to ice cream. Their delicious Chocolate and Toasted Almond offering contains only coconut milk, honey, avocado, cacao-powder, almonds and sea salt. Just make sure there’s someone else around to prize the tub from your hands before you’ve consumed the lot. (Selected outlets nationwide)

5. Chocolate Milk

If you lead an active lifestyle, drinking chocolate milk can actually help replenish your energy. In moderation, chocolate milk is a good source of protein for muscle repairing and recovery. Ideally, make your own version at home using organic cocoa powder, stevia, and full fat milk. If you’re on the go, reaching for a carton in the supermarket is a better option than fizzy drinks and artificially sweetened fruit juices.

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Bottle of chocolate milk with red striped straw on wooden background

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