4 Guilt-free Healthy Chocolate Recipes

It's National Chocolate Week, the perfect excuse to indulge in some choccie treats. These four recipes are tasty and healthy too...

Of course, you should never completely cut out the things that you enjoy. Yet how many times have you told yourself you’d have just one segment of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, only to be left with an empty foil wrapper and an unshakable sense of guilt five minutes later? Not to worry!

We’ve pulled together a list of healthy chocolate recipes for you to try out whenever your cravings for sweet treats become too strong to ignore. 

Can chocolate actually be good for us? 

Before we share our recipes, it’s worth pointing out that chocolate isn’t necessarily the diet-destroying demon that it’s often perceived to be. Scientific research conducted within the last 18 months has concluded that eating a small amount of chocolate each day can actually have health benefits. 

Studies led by a host of British universities – and published in the BMJ Heart Journal – showed that eating 100g of chocolate every day was linked to a reduced chance of heart disease and strokes. 

Is dark chocolate the healthiest option? 

Simply put, yes. DW Fitness Clubs personal trainer, Carly Tierney, explains why it offers more health benefits than milk or white chocolate. 

“Dark chocolate contains less sugar, more cholesterol-friendly fat, and more cocoa polyphenols than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is also more filling, which means it takes fewer calories to satisfy your chocolate cravings,” she says. 

“Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which may help to lower blood pressure, decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lower blood clot risk, improve cognitive performance and improve your mood.”

Again, don’t take this as a signal to go on a chocolate rampage – remember, everything in moderation! These four chocolatey treats should do the trick...

1. Dark chocolate and peanut butter ‘brookies’

Ingredients (for 12-15 brookies):

  • 30g of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 200g of dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • 100g of unsalted butter
  • 100g of natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 100g of sweetener
  • 150g of wholegrain flour

Method:

Healthy cookie recipes are one thing, but this is taking chocolatey goodness to a whole new dimension.

  • Melt your chocolate over a pan of hot water.
  • In a separate bowl, blend your cocoa powder, sweetener and butter together – make sure they’re well mixed.
  • Then add in your vanilla extract, egg and salt. Mix together.
  • Gradually work your flour and baking powder into the mixture.
  • Finally, add your melted chocolate and peanut butter into the mix. Whip into a smooth dough. Add a splash of water if you need to loosen things up.
  • Separate into equal portions on your grease-proof-papered tray and place in the oven at 180C for around 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on them as you go – you want them to remain nice and squidgy but not under-baked!

What are the health benefits?

By cutting back on the amount of butter in the mix, it enables you to add in some natural peanut butter, which is a fantastic source of protein. Another good source of healthy fats, studies have shown that those who regular include nuts or peanut butter in their diet are less likely to develop heart disease.

2. Dark chocolate and avocado mousse

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 30g of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 80ml of almond milk
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 100g of dark chocolate (70% or higher)
  • 1 tsp of fine salt

Method:

As far as simple chocolate dessert recipes go, this is as easy as it gets. Yet the results are phenomenal!

  • To make the mousse, simply melt your dark chocolate over a pan of boiling water. This should take two to three minutes.
  • In the meantime, peel and pit your avocados and place these in a blender with your honey, cocoa powder, almond milk, vanilla extract and salt.
  • Blend until smooth and then pour the mixture into four cups.
  • Leave these to chill in the fridge for two hours.
  • That’s it!

What are the health benefits?

The key to this dessert is the avocado. We’ve all heard about the benefits of “good fats” and avocado is excellent in this regard. Avocado gives your mousse a delightful creaminess without the need for butter. They’re also full of potassium, which the body needs to build muscle and control the electrical activity of the heart.

3. Banana and chocolate loaf

Ingredients:

  • 175g of self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 40g of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp of honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 3 over-ripe bananas
  • A splash of milk

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 170C and grease your loaf tin with a little coconut oil.
  • Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl and whisk together.
  • Melt the coconut oil and leave to one side.
  • Whisk the eggs together, then add the honey, melted coconut oil and mashed bananas, and whisk until everything is well combined. This is where you can add a splash of milk if your batter is looking dry.
  • Place the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold everything together until they combine. Do not over mix.
  • Place the chocolate and banana bread mixture into your loaf tin and cook for approximately 40 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Once cooked, remove from the tin and allow to cool before slicing and serving.

What are the health benefits?

You’ll notice that this cake has no added sugar. That’s because the bananas, honey and coconut oil add a natural sweetness. Although bananas have a high natural sugar content, they also offer plenty of potassium, dietary fibre and protein. Coconut oil, meanwhile, appears to be all the rage at the moment. High in natural saturated fats (those “good fats” again!), coconut oil can increase levels of healthy cholesterol in your body.

4. White chocolate and coconut ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 20g of cocoa powder
  • 150ml of Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp of sweetener
  • 100g of sugar-free white chocolate
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 75g of shredded coconut
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • A squeeze of lime juice

Method:

Homemade ice cream is super easy to make. This indulgent white chocolate and coconut version is no different.

  • Simply place your white chocolate in a bowl and melt it over a pan of boiling water.
  • Then stir in your Greek yoghurt, sweetener, salt, lime juice, honey and shredded coconut. Put the mixture in a food processor and give it a good whirl.
  • Place the mixture in the freezer for two hours.
  • Take out and delicately sieve your cocoa powder on top before serving.

What are the health benefits?

White chocolate is said to be the least healthy option (when compared with dark and milk chocolates), but everyone deserves a treat every now and again, right? There’s nothing wrong with eating foods you enjoy, as long as you do so in moderation.

The fact that we’re using sugar-free white chocolate – compensating for this with sweetener, honey and coconut – means you can eat this delicious dessert without the usual guilt. Greek yoghurt also has twice the protein content of normal yoghurts, and is a great source of calcium, potassium and vitamins B6 and B12. 

National Chocolate Week runs from 10th to 16th October. 

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Guest Monday, 11 December 2017