Did you know that February is Chocolate Lovers’ Month? That’s a great reason for chocolate lovers everywhere to rejoice, but it might give you a little FOMO (fear of missing out) if you’re sticking to a new diet. Here’s some good news, chocolate fans - you can have your chocolate and eat it too, all without undoing the wonderful work you’ve already put in so far this year.
In fact, research shows that eating chocolate can actually be good for you. How? When you include dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao in your diet, it’s possible to enjoy health benefits like:
- Improved circulation and heart health
- Lower risk of stroke
- Reduced levels of LDL, or 'bad' cholesterol
- Protection from sun damage for your skin
Those benefits are too sweet to pass up, right? We couldn’t agree more! Here are eight great ways to celebrate the holiday and include chocolate in your diet while still meeting your health goals:
- Dark Chocolate as-is
- Healthy Hot Chocolate
- Steel-cut Oatmeal
- Smoothie Bowls
- Chocoalte Mousse
- Chocoalte Glaze
- Pay Attention to Moderation
Eat It As-Is
If you like a classic chocolate bar, you’ll really love this! Some studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can help you lose weight if you melt a small piece of good quality chocolate on your tongue 20 minutes before eating. It triggers the hormones in your brain that tell you you’re full, which can help you eat less. If that’s not reason enough to celebrate, what is?
Healthy Hot Chocolate
Sometimes a warm cup of cocoa is the best indulgence. Plus, it’s the perfect way to celebrate Chocolate Lovers’ Month. So, get your favorite mug ready! When you combine unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened plant milk, and stevia together, you get a magical mug that tastes phenomenal without tons of calories, fat and sugar.
FUN FACT: Did you know that marshmallows are typically fat-free? Although they still have sugar, you can have some peace of mind that you’re not adding extra fat to your mug if you choose to have a few marshmallows with your hot cocoa.
Granola isn’t really a “diet” food, right? Not necessarily true! When you make it yourself at home using rolled oats, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, maple syrup, chopped nuts, and a little vegetable oil, you get a wonderful, crunchy treat with less fat and sugar.
Ready to make it? Simply combine all of the ingredients, mix them thoroughly and bake them on a cookie sheet for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, let the granola cool and break it into clusters. It’s now ready for snacking on its own or on top of your morning yogurt and fruit!
Chocolatey Steel Cut Oatmeal
Granola is one tasty way to celebrate National Chocolate Lovers’ Month in the morning, but how about oatmeal? Not only does this breakfast deliver the chocolate flavor you crave, but it also takes only a few minutes to whip up. Made in the slow cooker, this is the perfect recipe to prep for a busy week ahead or when entertaining a crew. For every cup of steel-cut oats, stir in 2 cups of water and milk, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate chopped up. Sweeten it with a little maple syrup or stevia to taste. Then, cover and cook for eight hours on low.
Shakes are great, but smoothies are a dish you can eat with a spoon, which somehow feels even more decadent and satisfying. By combining your favorite chocolate protein powder with some raw cacao, banana, and unsweetened plant milk, you can create the perfect base for your smoothie bowl. Top this with toasted almonds, granola, coconut or fresh bananas and enjoy a treat worth waking up for.
Who says that decadent treats can’t be good for you? This creamy, dreamy vegan dessert is chock-full of potassium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats thanks to the addition of smooth avocado as the delicious base. Blended with maple syrup, cocoa powder, coconut oil, vanilla extract and a tiny bit of sea salt, this tasty treat isn’t just diet-friendly, it also takes minimal time to prepare. Sounds like a win-win, right?
Perfect for pork chops, chicken, or any other savory dish that needs a little hint of chocolate, this glaze is next-level delish. To make it, combine the following in a bowl:
- 3 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon of Honey
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce
Next, stir the ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Then, add 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 finely chopped sprig of rosemary and 2 ounces melted dark chocolate in a bowl. Drizzle the glaze on your entree and voila - time to enjoy!
FUN FACT: White chocolate makes a delicious addition to seafood dishes that are made with a light creamy sauce.
Everything In Moderation
When it comes to dieting and the ways to celebrate National Chocolate Lovers’ Month, just remember the common phrase, “everything in moderation”. Even though dark chocolate is considered to be a healthier option, too much of anything isn’t great. So, just make sure to pay attention to serving sizes and try not to overindulge, and you’ll continue to do great with your journey to a healthier lifestyle!
Looking for more wellness tips? Check out our “Fresh Ideas” knowledge base. Happy National Chocolate Lovers’ Month everyone!