Having a healthy go-to treat is serious business.
I’m talking about something you can enjoy that won’t set you back 3 days (or more) on your healing journey.
It could be the difference between staying on the right track or completely falling off the wagon (and contemplating never getting back on).
A healthy treat shouldn’t be too much to ask for, but often times it is.
And we don’t want it to be the reason you experience a dreadful setback.
Our dark chocolate recipe meets all the criteria of an amazing treat: simple, versatile, gut-healthy and delicious.
The Problem With Most Chocolate Products
If there’s one ingredient that stands in the way of allowing chocolate to really shine, it’s sugar.
You can think of it like this – sugar “cancels out” all the amazing benefits of cocoa powder (see below).
A sweetener that adds health? Now we’re talking.
And let’s not forget the other ingredients you’re likely to find in a standard chocolate bar – additives, preservatives, milk and genetically modified ingredients.
Now, let’s’ talk a little bit about cocoa powder – the main ingredient in chocolate products.
Not All Cocoa Powder Is Created Equal
While all cocoa powder begins in the same form – cocoa beans from the Theobroma cacao tree – it doesn’t end up the same.
Depending on how the bean is processed, two products can result: Natural cocoa powder and dutch-processed cocoa powder.
With dutch-processed products, the beans are soaked in an alkalized chemical solution to allow for a less acidic and richer tasting powder. Unfortunately, many of the nutrients are destroyed during the process.
In one study, heavily alkalized cocoa powders contained 78.5% less flavanols (antioxidants) than that of natural cocoa.
Natural cocoa powder is minimally processed, which means the nutrients are still intact. In fact, all the latest research studies showing us the health benefits of chocolate are based on raw or minimally processed cocoa, like this brand here.
Speaking of nutrients, the nutritional profile of high-quality, unprocessed cocoa powder may surprise you.
The Health Benefits Of Cocoa Powder
There’s a reason the Latin name for chocolate translates into “Food of the Gods.” The Mayans reserved chocolate for the rulers, warriors, priests and nobles for its energy boosting benefits.
Today, chocolate is still a valued and important part of culinary cultures around the world. And thankfully, there are some great benefits to this ancient food.
Here are just a few of the ways high-quality chocolate can boost your health:
- Rich in plant-derived antioxidants known to decrease blood pressure, fight inflammation and decrease platelet activity (associated with heart disease)
- A good source of fiber (unsweetened cocoa powder contains almost 2g of fiber per tablespoon)
- Dark chocolate (70 – 85% cocoa) provides adequate amounts of magnesium, which helps to regulate blood pressure and is necessary for muscle relaxation and energy production
- 1 TBSP of cocoa provides 23% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) for copper
- Single servings of cocoa contain more phenolic antioxidants than most foods at 50mg per gram
- Flavanols can help boost cognitive function such as mood and memory
- Studies show the larger molecules in cocoa are poorly absorbed through the gut barrier (due to their high molecular weight) and can act as a prebiotic (food for gut bacteria)
Now, let’s’ dive into the fun part – the recipe.
Healthy Dark Chocolate Recipe
- Melt coconut oil in a pan on the stove or in a microwave safe dish (be sure to whisk out any clumps)
- Pour coconut oil into a blender (or a bowl if using an electric hand mixer)
- Add cocoa powder and maple syrup to the oil
- Blend well (blender or hand mixer will work)
- Pour into ice cube trays and place into freezer for at least 15 minutes
- Remove from the freezer and “pop” the chocolate out of the tray – ENJOY!
Make It Your Own
One of my favorite things about this recipe is it’s flexibility. In other words, you can alter the ingredients and it won’t be an epic failure.
- Extra-dark – Decrease the amount of sweetener OR add ¼ cup more cocoa powder.
- Chocolate dip – Instead of freezing the chocolate in ice cube trays, leave it to sit at room temperature for the perfect chocolate fruit dip.
- SCD Legal Sweetener – Replace the maple syrup with 1/8 cup of honey*. To use honey, place 1/8 cup honey in a glass container and put it in hot water to melt honey safely.
- Sweet and salty – Add a pinch of sea salt to the recipe or add on top after you put the chocolate in the ice cube tray.
- Chocolate covered fruit – Dip bananas or strawberries in the liquid chocolate and place in the freezer (on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper) for at least 15 minutes.
- Chocolate frosting – Place the liquid chocolate in fridge for 5 – 10 minutes to allow it to thicken. Simply spread the thickened chocolate on a muffin, cake or item of choice.
*Please note: If using honey, the chocolate will take much longer to thicken.
Frequently Asked Questions
At SCD lifestyle, we believe in individuality and finding a custom diet that works for you. In other words, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else.
Let these frequently asked questions guide you when deciding if this recipe is right for you.
Does chocolate contain caffeine?
Yes, but in very low levels. The energy boost felt from chocolate actually comes from theobromine – a compound closely related to caffeine. However, research shows it doesn’t exert its effects on the central nervous system like caffeine – so it’s a different type of energy than one might get from a cup of coffee. Theobromine also takes longer to clear from the body systems, providing more of a steady energy. If you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue or blood sugar issues, caffeine in general isn’t recommended as it can make symptoms worse.
Is this recipe SCD legal?
No. If you’re strictly following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, chocolate is considered illegal.
However, we are all about finding the customized diet that works for you. That means some members of the community are further along on their healing journey and can tolerate small amounts of chocolate. In general, if you’re just beginning the SCD or similar gut healing diet, we’d suggest avoiding it and testing it out later on.
What if I can’t tolerate fat?
If you’re concerned about the saturated fat content of coconut oil in this recipe, test out a small piece and see how you do. If you already know you can’t tolerate much fat right now, this is a recipe to save for later. And if you’re not already taking them, digestive enzymes can really aid in the digestion of fats.
How much chocolate can I have?
The “everything in moderation” rule still applies here. You get to be the judge in determining how much is too much. As always, start with a small amount and see how your body reacts.
What’s Holding You Back?
Bottom line, our goal is to help you succeed in healing your gut. And if you haven’t’ started yet because you’re feeling like you can’t have any treats… fear no more.
We know that part of a successful gut healing journey is being able to enjoy something sweet from time to time (we know because we’ve failed plenty).
Recipes like this make that possible – free of sugar, additives, fillers, dairy or mystery… your gut will thank you.
We think your friends will thank you, too, so don’t forget to share the love!
– Lori Jo
P.S. Did you try this recipe? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think 🙂