When we first met, Ash told me how much he loved dark chocolate.
Me: Dark Chocolate? Really?
Ash: Yeah. It’s great. It’s delicious.
M: It’s gross. Ugh. So bitter. How can you like the stuff?
A: Well, I don’t like all dark chocolate. I like specifically 82% dark chocolate. My friend from college – his dad was a Swiss chocolatier and introduced me to that percentage. It’s not too bitter, not too sweet, but it’s the perfect balance of the two for me.
I tried it and rejected it for my milk chocolate love because it was too bitter to get around the flavor. Yet, when I quit sugar it meant I had to quit chocolate. This was devastating because chocolate is delicious and I am addicted to that endorphin release.
I was able to last a month without chocolate at first and focused on fruits as a means to satisfy my sweet tooth. But soon I started craving chocolate again. I looked around and found that there are several options available for those trying to get a chocolate fix without added cane sugar. (These are not sponsored links, but I do recommend them)
Ash saw me unwrapping a candy bar one day and wanted to know what I was eating:
Me: Chocolate. Why?
A: Can I see the wrapper?
M: Yes… (I hand him the wrapper)
A: You know this is dark chocolate right? You always said you hated the stuff.
M: (My mouth full)…so?
A: I TOLD you it was delicious.
He caught me. I found that by dropping sugar I was more receptive (desperate?) to dark chocolate. It was a good thing doing so because I was starting to get the actual health benefits from eating dark chocolate that’s on the news.
Bitter Truths for Health
There are plenty of studies coming out on a near weekly basis for the health benefits or health drawbacks of chocolate. It’s little wonder we are obsessed with it: it’s delicious, it releases an endorphin high, and it’s culturally ingrained at this point.
Yet when these studies come out they are referring to Ash’s favorite: dark chocolate.
That can be a bitter chunk of chocolate to swallow. Dark chocolate is bitter, but the darker the chocolate you go, the increased benefits it provides. The lighter we go in chocolate: milk to white; the fewer health benefits it provides. It’s because what’s in the raw chocolate itself that provides the benefit, not the milked down version.
And white chocolate isn’t even chocolate at all.
Here are some of the health benefits out there so far for dark chocolate:
- Lowers blood pressure and risk for heart disease
- Aids in digestion
- Increases brain power
- Lowers cholesterol
- Appetite suppressant
- Mood booster and stress relief
The benefits are great, but you still have to work around the bitter flavor to get them. How do you even begin to get used to it?
Getting Used to It
Let’s be honest. If you are a chocolate addict like me and really love those milk chocolate treats, it can be hard to be open to dark chocolate.
The number one way I was able to transition between the two types was to drop sugar from my diet. But that’s an extreme way to do it and if that isn’t for you, then you shouldn’t stress over it.
I found that raw candy bars/baked treats from health food stores are a great way to transition between milk and dark chocolate. They are still a bit bitter, but with other flavors mixed it, it can be more tolerable and ease the transition cravings.
If that’s not for you, try to ease your way up the dark chocolate percentage scale. Start with the lowest level for it to be considered dark chocolate and work your way up to higher percentages. By going slowly you will be able to re-train your taste buds to enjoy the bitter flavor.
Another good way? Making your own versions of your favorite treats.
Here are some recipes I’ve found online that use dark chocolate in their mix and you barely notice the difference. Some of them are more involved, but others are super easy. All are delicious.
- Super Fluffy Chocolate Brownies (a favorite in our household and with guests)
- Chocolate Hummus (if you like chocolate pudding, it’s similar in taste and consistency)
- Chocolate Cake (my own recipe for Jai’s first birthday)
The Minimalist Baker is a great starting point for dark chocolate recipes. If I am looking to make a particular treat I find myself on their blog almost every time.
What’s your favorite type of chocolate? Have you transitioned to dark chocolate or thinking about it? Comment below with your thoughts on this wonder food.
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