It’s not long until the Easter bunny arrives, bringing eggs and Easter treats aplenty! 🐰
One of the most popular of these Easter foods tends to be chocolate. From chocolate eggs to chocolate cakes, if you’re a chocolate lover, then Easter is probably one of your favourite times of year.
However, we know not everyone can enjoy chocolate, whether it’s due to diet, allergies or just wanting to cut down on the sweet stuff. Plus, whilst it’s good to treat yourself every now and then, unfortunately most types of chocolate do not hold much nutritional value. You may be wondering, is there a healthier alternative?
Well here at Wholefood Earth, we’ve got your back, and have some chocolate substitutes that we’d like to suggest for when those sweet cravings come a-calling. That way you can still enjoy the chocolatey taste in a healthier way, and still indulge this Easter - let’s hop to it!
Cacao nibs are produced from beans harvested from the Theobroma cacao tree, sometimes referred to as the cocoa tree. The cacao beans are dried, fermented, and heated at a low temperature. The heat helps in separating the fatty part of the bean.
They’re amongst the least processed cacao products and are considerably lower in sugar than other chocolate products, making them a healthier alternative for chocolate lovers. Due to their reduced sugar content, they’re not as sweet as cocoa and have a bitter, earthy taste, much like dark chocolate.
Cacao nibs are a great replacement for chocolate chips, meaning that they’re perfect for making all your favourite baked goods. You can also put them in smoothies, porridge, granola, or eat them on their own as a snack. They’re vegan friendly as well as being gluten-free.
They’re loaded with nutrients and powerful plant compounds that have been shown to benefit health in many ways. However, please note that cacao nibs do still contain caffeine. Therefore, eating large amounts may cause side effects, such as anxiety, jitteriness, and trouble sleeping. So, make sure not to go overboard!
The one alternative on our list that is not sourced from cacao beans is carob powder. Although it looks a lot like cocoa powder, It’s actually made from dried and roasted carob pods. These pods are derived from the flowering tree or shrubs, which are native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East.
Carob powder is low in sodium, high in fibre and contains virtually no fat. Its packed full of antioxidants, a good source of calcium and unlike chocolate it contains no tyramine which can cause migraines and headaches. It is often used as a natural sweetener in baked goods due to its sweet and unique taste which is similar to chocolate.
Carob powder can be used as a replacement for cocoa powder in most recipes. Just keep in mind that it is higher in sugar, so you might not want to use as much sugar/sweetener in the rest of your recipe. Along with baked goods, use carob powder to make vegan chocolate, carob syrup, carob pudding. You can even substitute it to make a hot carob drink instead of hot chocolate.
Another benefit of carob powder is that it’s gluten-free as well as being free from caffeine. So, if you can’t eat cocoa due to the caffeine content, carob powder may be the perfect chocolate substitute for you!
We know, this last choice may seem like an obvious one, but cocoa powder is still a healthier alternative to chocolate, especially if it hasn’t been overly processed. Cocoa is the dark brown powder made from roasted cacao beans, it still has a strong cacao flavour but without the added fat, sugar, or calories that are present in chocolate.
Cocoa powder is very versatile can be used in many ways. It can substitute chocolate pieces in baking recipes, including cakes, brownies, pancakes, muffins, and cookies. You can sprinkle some into smoothies, cereals, and yoghurts, also if you are cooking and want some added flavour.
There are also more health benefits to be had from eating cocoa powder, instead of chocolate, which has been stripped of most of its nutrients. It is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that have been linked to improved cholesterol levels and reduced inflammation. Cocoa may also help lower stress levels and improve calmness and contentment, causing a positive effect on your mood and even symptoms of depression.