8 Ways to Celebrate Chocolate Lover’s Month Without Breaking Your Diet
Did you know that February is Chocolate Lover's Month? That's a great reason for chocolate lovers everywhere to rejoice, but it might give you a little FOMO 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.
Research shows that eating chocolate can be very good for you. 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 delicious to pass up. Here are eight great ways that you can include chocolate in your diet while meeting your health goals.
Eat It As-Is
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, and that can help you eat less. If that's not reason enough to celebrate, what is?
Shakes are great, but smoothies you can eat with a spoon somehow feel even more decadent and satisfying. Combining your favorite chocolate protein powder with some raw cacao, banana, and unsweetened plant milk provides the perfect base. Top this with toasted almonds, granola, coconut or fresh berries and enjoy a treat worth waking up for.
Granola isn't really a "diet" food, right? Wrong. When you make it yourself 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. To make it, combine all the ingredients, mix them thoroughly, and bake them on a cookie sheet for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the granola cool and break it into clusters.
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.
Use this for pork chops, chicken, or any other savory dish that needs a little hit of chocolate — this glaze is next-level delish. Combine 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce in a bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves before adding 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 finely chopped sprig of rosemary, and 2 ounces melted dark chocolate in a bowl.
Chocolatey Steel Cut 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 for 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, cover, and cook for eight hours on low.
Healthy Hot Chocolate
Sometimes a warm mug of cocoa is the best indulgence. 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, or sugar.