Hallowe’en is almost here, which means giant boxes of ‘candy minis’ are everywhere, including in our cupboards, bringing with them binge temptations, sugar-crashes, and guilt.
Today, we’re diving into how your love of chocolate can bring big health benefits, recipe ideas & some healthier trick-or-treat suggestions.
There are a lot of reasons to love chocolate, high quality dark chocolate that is. Here are a few:
- Contains more calcium than cow’s milk (for healthy bones & teeth)
- Natural mood elevator
- High in free radical fighting antioxidants (3 cheers for healthy cells!)
- Packed with magnesium (for brain & heart health)
Most commercial chocolates (we’re looking at you Hallowe’en candy) contains minimal amounts of cacao and are packed with high fructose corn syrup, dyes, chemicals and other things your body doesn’t want or need.
Go for dark chocolate, more natural-ingredient containing snacks (suggestions below) and check labels for the percentage of cacao included. And remember that ingredients are listed in order of their relative weighting as compared with the other ingredients in the product. The first ingredient listed is what there is most of.
Do you get hit with chocolate cravings? If yes, you’re not alone. According to John Hopkins Medicine, a huge percentage of us do. I love the approach taken in this article. Check it out for a deeper dive into the health benefits and suggestions on how to reframe your love-guilt relationship with chocolate.
Kid-Friendly Chocolate Recipes
Homemade Chocolate Bites
To avoid the dyes, syrups and other not-good-for-us ingredients that are packed into commercial chocolate and candy, try the recipe below. These bites are far more delicious AND have health benefits.
- 1 cup finely chopped cocoa butter (packed)
- 3-5 Tbsp maple syrup (adjust to your preference)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder (cocoa also works)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch sea salt (to taste)
Toppings: finely chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans), sea salt
Equipment: you’ll need a double boiler or a saucepan that can have a glass bowl sit on top without sitting more than ½ deep into the saucepan.
1.Arrange 14 mini cupcake liners on a small baking sheet. Set aside.
2. Add 2 inches of water to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Then set a medium glass or ceramic mixing bowl on top, making sure it’s not touching the water (this creates a “double boiler”).
3. To the mixing bowl, add finely chopped cocoa butter and let melt for 2-3 minutes.
4. Once melted, add 3 TBSP maple syrup and use a whisk or wooden spoon to mix until fluid and thoroughly combined. Remove bowl and set on a flat surface. Turn off stove-top heat and set the saucepan aside.
5. Add cacao or cocoa powder, vanilla, and sea salt, and whisk to combine until there are no clumps.
6. Taste and add another 1 to 2 TBSP of maple syrup if desired (whisk again if added).
7. Carefully pour chocolate into 12-14 mini cupcake liners and top with a dash of sea salt and crushed nuts.
8. Transfer chocolate to the freezer or refrigerator to set – about 10 minutes for small, 20 minutes for larger liners.
Enjoy straight from the freezer, refrigerator, or at room temperature. Store leftovers in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Source inspiration: The Minimalist Baker
Here are a few more simple-ingredient, quick-prep, delicious recipes I’ve tried and loved (if you’ve got kiddos, both are perfect for little helpers).
Hallowe’en Handout Suggestions
Homemade candy isn’t likely your best bet for Hallowe’en handouts. Here are some suggestions that kids and parents will love:
Laid Back Snacks (Tuscan Road Trip for the nutty-chocolate fans)
Have a fun, safe and festive Halloween.
Deanna Embury, Founder of Blended For You, is a regular contributor to The Health Insider. She is passionate about nutrition, wellness and helping people reach their personal health goals. Blended For You provides ready-to-blend (or eat) gluten-free, plant-based, all-natural and complete nutrition smoothies, soups & chia bowls.
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