What’s more delicious than chocolate? And what’s funnier than Arrested Development?
That’s right. Those are both trick questions, and the answer is “nothing.” In the words of “GOB” Bluth, “wait for it.”
I have a couple of friends who are trying to kick the refined sugar habit this month, and when I offered assistance in the form of recipes the unanimous cry was for CHOCOLATE. So, I was already thinking of some stevia-sweetened treats, when I noticed that the star ingredient for February’s SOS Challenge was this ingenious little sweet herb, stevia. So I figured, why not go to town on a chocolate-tastic entry!
Here’s the thing. When done correctly, chocolate is a nutrition-packed, ridiculously healthy food you can feel great about loving. When done wrong? It’s full of immune suppressing, blood sugar-spiking refined sugar and mucus-forming, chemical laden dairy. I think we can agree on a unanimous “yuckers” on that one, yeah?
So here’s what we’ll be working with:
Raw chocolate, or “cacao”is the most concentrated food source of magnesium, a commonly deficient mineral which is known for it’s ability to relax our muscles (good for the heart, good for PMS, good for…well, who doesn’t want to be more relaxed in general?!), and cacao also has the highest concentration of antioxidants, those compounds you’re always hearing about – antioxidants protect our cells from damage from any number of internal and external sources.
Cacao also contains a few “feel-good” compounds, such as PEA (our bodies produce this when we’re “in love,” apparently) and anandamide, sweet phytochemical responsible for some bliss-y feelings. It’s also supposed to increase mental alertness.
I’d say all of that sounds pretty sweet, no? Here’s the “catch” – all of these features, in truly beneficial quantities, are unique to raw cacao, which you can get in whole bean, “nib,” or powdered form. Organic cocoa powder is great, but something in the roasting process (much like other raw vs. cooked food debates) decreases the anti-oxidant and magnesium content, as well as deactivating a lot of the other little benefits. Traditional, roasted chocolate gets more of it’s “stimulating” and feel-good properties from it’s slight caffeine content, which amps-up our nervous systems (not actually as awesome as it sounds!).
A little green leaf, when stevia is dried and made into either a powder or a liquid concentrate, it is 300 times sweeter than cane sugar, while having a glycemic index of zero. This means it has zero impact on blood sugar levels, so it’s 100% safe for anyone with diabtes, hypoglycemia or minor blood sugar imbalances. In general, we should all be aiming to eat as low glycemic as possible, to prevent the previously mentioned conditions, weight gain, and other hormonal imbalance-related diseases.
Stevia is also safe for Candida, or yeast imbalances. Basically, if you make your treats with stevia, they’re everyone-friendly! And totally natural, unlike other yuck-o-rama zero-calorie sweeteners made from shitty chemicals.
There is one minor issue with stevia, and I used to be one of these haters too – it can have a funny aftertaste. Like, licorice-y and just, weird. But after much trial-and-error (lots of grody tasting errors!), I figured out the stevia-secret! Yes my friends, this falls into the “less is more” category. Remember how I said it’s 300 times sweeter than sugar? Yeah, you just need a little bit. And the less you use, the less funky aftertaste you’ll find. I know, right. No shit, Sherlock.
I talked about this guy the other day. Made up of medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil mostly gets burned as energy by the body, not stored as fat. Plus, it does this cool metabolism-increasing trick that helps us to burn fat in general. Yeah, eat fat to lose fat! What! Amazeballs!
Coconut oil is also (mostly) solid around room temperature, especially at this time of year when there’s a blizzard every other day. This means, if we’re making it our chocolate base, we’re going to get solid chocolate. Unless you live in a sauna. All these treats should be stored in the fridge for super-solidness, and they will melt in your hot little hands somewhat, but you’re going to be devouring them, not holding them like a nincompoop! (A what?)
Ok, ok. I’m getting off on being withholding! Recipe time! We’re going to make one basic recipe, with about a million different applications. I’ll show you three.
Easy Peasy Basic Raw Chocolate
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup (optional, double the stevia if you leave this out – but see warning about stevia aftertaste!)
1/2 tsp powdered stevia
pinch of sea salt
Bring a pot of water to a low simmer. Place another pot or a bowl inside the first one to create a double-boiler situation, so we don’t cook/scorch our delicate chocolate business! Add coconut oil to bowl, and alow to melt.
Stir in maple syrup, then whisk in cacao powder, stevia and salt. Stir until we’re lump free!
Yup, that’s it. Chocolate is done. Now we get to look at some cool shit to do with it!
Bluth Family Frozen Banana
There’s always money in the banana stand! In tribute to everyone’s favourite dysfunctional TV-family, I made some frozen bananas. With nuts.
Peel your bananas, like a monkey.
Place peeled bananas in freezer. Freeze.
Drizzle chocolate mixture over frozen bananas until well-coated. Chocolate will harden quickly, so work quickly! Top with nuts, if you’re nuts.
| They’re not even eating them.
They just like saying “bananas and nuts.”
Almond Butter Cups
Like Reese’s, but better. Obvs.
2 tbsp almond butter (or hazelnut, cashew, peanut, etc butter)
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup or few dashes of stevia
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
Combine all ingredients in small bowl, using same double-boiler method as above. You know how Reese’s filling tastes…weird? That’s where the nutritional yeast comes in! Just, trust me.
Pour 1/4 inch of chocolate mixture into any size muffin cup you desire.
Place in freezer to harden.
Form little “patties” of nut butter filling, like so:
Place on top of chocolate base. Pour chocolate over top to cover, return to fridge or freezer to set.
Peppermint Chocolate Patties
Add 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil or extract to chocolate mixture. Pour into muffin cups in desired thickness and allow to set in fridge or freezer. Om nom nom!