It’s the week of the Valentine’s Day and whether you love it or hate it, you’re probably still going to enjoy some chocolate, just because … right? After all, though we can eat chocolate all year round (and surely many of us do), this week of all 52 weeks of the year is the time to celebrate chocolate and all its beloved powers.
Sugary, milk chocolate we all grew up eating and probably loving, is no longer the spotlight of the cacao circle anymore. Healthier forms and more exotic forms like raw cacao and vegan chocolates are everywhere these days, leaving processed and dairy-based chocolate bars in the dust! Animal-based ingredients like eggs, butter, and milk all regularly appear in most commercial chocolates, not to mention mountains of sugar that don’t support you on any level. The real reason you love chocolate isn’t because it’s loaded with sugar, but it’s because pure chocolate is essentially packed with amazing nutrients that raise endorphins, serotonin and dopamine in the body. These neurotransmitters fuel a good mood, and chocolate also helps lower your blood pressure. It also just tastes great!
So for this week, let’s focus on some chocolate-inspired eats that leave the animal products out of the picture, and make your body feel great at the same time. Make these treats for your loved ones, no matter if that’s your mom, dad, special someone, kids, co-workers, neighbors, relatives or friends. Everyone will love these treats and after they’re done gushing over the recipes, you can sneak in the little tid-bit that they’re actually vegan too!
1. Chocolate Cacao Mint Bars
Most chocolate coconut bars are packed with butter and some even have egg whites. Not these! We’re talking nothing but rich, chocolaty goodness and pure, naturally sweet raw coconut that just melts in your mouth. The delicious thing about these bars is the way the chocolate bar at the top crumbles when you bite into the bar. Then, the coconut cream mint base adds a filling, delicious cake-like texture. You have to try these – just don’t blame us when they get gobbed up quick!
2. Chocolate Coated Hazelnut Truffles
For the truffle lover out there who reaches for the box of Russell Stover’s truffles, be sure you have a batch of these on hand instead. No milk, butter, or gross vegetable oils are used here – just pure delicious vegan food. If you’re a Nutella lover or know one, these are sure to hit the spot thanks to the merriment of chocolate and hazelnut wrapped up into one nosh-worthy truffle!
3. The Perfect Chocolate Banana Smoothie
Chocolate and banana make an incredible combo, especially when it’s in a smoothie! This treat would be perfect to send your kids off to school with, your special someone off to work with, or would be great to treat yourself to for breakfast. You could even add a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter to the mix to make it even more decadent and dessert-worthy. Anyone you know would also love this as an afternoon snack, and it could even be frozen for half an hour to turn it into ice cream!
4. Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Perhaps you know someone allergic to gluten or that’s just avoiding the controversial ingredient. That’s where these cookies are a great alternative. They are absolutely so nutty, it’s a little insane. Quinoa makes a great baking ingredient since the flavor becomes a bit more sweet than when you cook it on the stovetop. Quinoa flakes (versus the whole seed) are especially awesome to make cookies and muffins with. Use this marvelous complete protein for more than just dinner – turn it into a snack with these tasty treats!
5. Very Chocolaty Chocolate Vegan Brownies
You just can’t go wrong with brownies – especially when they involve the nutritious and delicious omega 3 rich walnuts. Forget the fish to get your healthy fats, try walnuts and other healthy plant-based fats instead. Even if you have a nut allergy or know someone that does, these can be made with or without nuts or you can sub in some seeds like flax, chia, pumpkin, or sunflower instead. Or just make them rich and gooey without the nuts. You could also leave out the brown sugar to make these healthier and sub in pureed dates, apple butter or a tablespoon of liquid stevia instead. Either way, whoever you make them for will love them!
6. Vegan Chocolate Almond Cookies With Fudgy Frosting
These cookies put processed chocolate cookies to shame! This recipe is packed with pure whole foods and some of nature’s finest superfoods that also boost your libido (hello maca!). Almonds are also one of nature’s best foods for the brain thanks to the magnesium and B vitamins they contain. With this combination packed into one cookie, you just can’t go wrong. Make a batch of these and share them with everyone you know!
7. Raw Vegan Superfood Chocolate
For those that just want some delicious dark chocolate, these little lovelies put a special touch on the original recipe. Featuring other superfoods that combine wonderfully with chocolate, they’re incredibly rich, decadent and so energizing! You can even make a batch to keep on hand and enjoy one a day yourself, or deliver them in a pretty packaged box to carry to your loved ones. Don’t have all these ingredients on hand? Don’t worry- you don’t need them! You can also make these with coconut oil and cacao powder and your choice sweetener. Everything else is just a bonus!
8. Vegan Ginger Chocolate Cups with Sesame-Cashew Butter and Caramel
Cups are one of the best chocolaty treats to make. They’re portable, the perfect portion, and you can include anything you want inside the filling. These have a special spicy flavor featuring ginger and are a perfect stand-in for the peanut butter treats you grew up loving. They’re also even healthier too! Give your loved ones something that’s actually good for their taste buds and heart with these treats!
9. Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate ‘Buttercream’ Icing
Not only are these gluten-free, but the ingredient list is astounding. These cupcakes are so rich and creamy, anyone you know would absolutely dive right in and never be able to tell they weren’t the original buttercream frosting topped cupcakes most of us grew up eating. Buttercream is filled with unhealthy animal-based saturated fats, unlike these healthy gems that use perfectly healthy plant-based fats to get the icing job done instead!
10. Raw Vegan and Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
These are technically no bake and not raw since peanut butter isn’t purely raw, but who cares? For the time pinched, they’re incredible at satisfying the sweet tooth in a healthy way. You could also easily sub in raw almond butter or raw almonds to keep these raw. The best part is, that they’re quick to make, they keep well, and can be made ahead of time (3-4 days) if you’re making big batches for friends or a party.
Introduce chocolate and desserts to your loved ones and your kitchen with healthy alternatives to processed chocolate and unnecessary animal products. We guarantee your Valentine’s Day will be much better for it, along with your loved ones’ holiday as well.
Not sure what to look for when buying vegan chocolate products?
Read the ingredient list to make sure you don’t spot anything with these: casein, gelatin, butter, cream, milk, lactose (or milk sugar), milk fat, eggs, egg whites, whey, milk isolates, hydrolyzed protein (also animal-derived). Some forms of sugar are also processed with bone char and aren’t listed as such on the ingredient list (another benefit of going sugar-free), or you can buy Certified Vegan products (look for the seal) to ensure you’re getting a 100 percent vegan product. A few companies even donate to animal-based charities, making chocolates all the more sweeter! PETA also has some tips for picking out chocolate if you’d like to check that out as well.
Keep your eyes out for vegan chocolate bars at your local health food store, at specialty vegan chocolate shops, or online if that’s more your thing. Also see our 20 superfood recipes using raw cacao for more healthy, chocolate-inspired, 100 percent cruelty-free treats!
What cruelty-free treats are you going to make first?
Lead Image Source: Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes