We’ve all been hearing it lately.  Sugar is addictive.  Sugar is the bad guy.  Sugar is taking the blame for rising rate of diabetes, increasing waistlines and a host of other issues.  And it’s made its way into a head spinning 80% of processed foods today.

Okay, okay you say.  I’ll see what I can do and try to cut back on sugar.  But how am I gonna manage without my cherished chocolate?  Well, here’s the good news – there’s no going without here!  You can have your cake and eat it too (literally!).  Happy Holidays!

But not just any ol’ chocolate.  The typical sweetness we’ve come to know and love is filled with sugar (in the form of fructose), bad oils and additives as well.  The nutritional value has been sucked right out of it.  Hey – wait a minute – I thought you just said…?  Here’s the deal – FRUCTOSE is the culprit.  It’s the form of sweetener that makes us fat, can make us sick and leaves us wanting more.

To get off the sugar merry go round once and for all, I highly recommend eliminating ALL forms of sugars initially, until you have cravings under control and your body has reset.  Then adding back in the good stuff…

Raw cacao:  Cacao means “food of the gods” and is simply raw chocolate in its purest form.  This super-food is kept closest to its natural state by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans.   The bean is then dried into a powder at a very low temp, which enables it to retain maximum health benefits in the form of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids.   It contains more antioxidants and magnesium than any other food and has been known to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as warding off cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.  Sign me up, right? It can also elevate mood and reduce depression, and contains minerals that foster glowing skin, build stronger bones, and assist the liver with detoxification. Many chocolate bars and chips are made using cacao.  Ghiradelli makes a 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chip that tastes great.  They may cost a dollar or two more, but aren’t all those health benefits worth it? What are you waiting for, try some now!

Cocoa: This is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean lowering the overall nutritional value.  It is still good for your heart, skin, blood pressure and stress levels and costs less than cacao.  But skip added sugars, fats and oils, and look for plain cocoa powder rather than mixes.

Here are links to a couple of my favorite cacao recipes to try:

(Note:  Cacao is slightly bitter and can be an acquired taste.  You may need to adjust amounts when using it as a smoothie ingredient – a little less cacao and a little more sweet fruit for newbies.)

Chocolate Banana Smoothie:  http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/recipes/chocolate-banana-smoothie-with-goji-berries-antioxidant-supershake/

No Bake Fudge Brownie:  http://navitasnaturals.com/recipes/9503/No-Bake-Fudge-Brownies.html


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