By now, most of us have stumbled upon that valuable information, the viable excuse (for eating more), about dark chocolate: It is wicked healthy. Like really. This isn’t just finding some loophole to justify insatiable cravings. This isn’t controversial chemistry regarding PEA and how chocolate triggers the brain to be happy. No, no! Without one inkling of doubt or debate, cacao — the less processed version of chocolate— has many properties that make it worthy of going out of our way to eat. Ain’t that just grand?

What so great about dark chocolate and cacao then? Well, let’s start with flavonols, a powerful antioxidant in chocolate, a benefit to our cardiovascular system, not to mention all of the other antioxidant provided by possibly the most antioxidant-rich food on the planet. Let’s move on to a significant amount of a large mix of vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Oh, we could go on, but wouldn’t we rather get down to business?

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How can we put more chocolate into our life?

Can’t Eat Enough? Drink It!

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Now, the first inclination here would be to go for the hot chocolate; however, to get the most nutritional benefits from our cacao, it’s important that the good stuff isn’t destroyed by heating it. The less cooking, the better. So, how about chocolate milk?! When’s the last time we had chocolate milk? Best go DIY and plant-based on this mission. Or, toss some cacao nibs or raw cacao powder into a raw smoothie, with bananas and cherries, or maybe even this freaking masterpiece.

 

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Start Your Day Right!

 

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For some reason, chocolate for breakfast hasn’t always made mothers’ top ten lists for healthy choices, but we are all adults now. And, we know better. We know that things like chocolate granola, with goji berries and chia seeds, are healthful heavyweights. Spiced chocolate pancakes? Or, of course, there is always saying au revoir to the same stale blueberry and banana nut muffins and going with raw gingerbread and chocolate tarts beside a mocha frappuccino.

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Get Fit on Chocolate!

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What a reason to exercise more often! Wouldn’t a little immediate gratification just make all that effort seem a bit more worthwhile? There are all sorts of energy, muscle-building chocolate-y booster bars out there. It’s time to start sampling. Try raw super food energy bars with cacao to make the next run less intimidating, or go for crunchy raw vegan protein balls to help those biceps get bigger. Why don’t all personal trainers key on this type of stuff for motivation?

 

Go Underground with It!

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Okay, okay. In actuality, it’s pronounced mo-lay! (like olé), not mole as in the animal, but Mexican mole sauce is a fabulous way to introduce a little more chocolate into savory dishes. If this isn’t on the menu yet, fear not as it’s never too late to learn something new. Mole sauce is easy to make, teams well with beans and seitan and oozes just so over rice. Of course, it’s a little unorthodox, perhaps, but things could be worse that chipotle chocolate chili, a fun play off the traditional sauce.

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Another Time to Get Saucy!

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If it wasn’t enough to have mole sauce for dinner, then dessert is another fantastic time to get saucy. Chocolate just lends itself so obligingly to be poured over so many things, from pumpkin cashew cream cake to gluten-free peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate drizzle. Then, of course, there is dipping as well, such as with churros with coconut sugar and chili chocolate dipping sauce. Even if there is a problem finding something to go with chocolate sauce, there’s always fresh fruit: strawberries, mangoes, bananas, citrus and on and on it goes.

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Without a doubt, there is no reason to say that chocolate has to just be a snack. There is no reason to say that a little bowl of raw cacao nibs shouldn’t be beside every one of us right now and for always. All I’m saying is that there is more than one way to go cacao, and we should be taking full advantage.

Lead Image Source: Tim Sackton/Flickr