Looking for something sweet to make for a special someone? Even if that special someone is you! Here’s a collection of healthy(ish) chocolate desserts to choose from! Includes recipes that are easy, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and naturally sweetened.
Hey Nutrition Lady, is chocolate healthy?
That’s the million dollar question, my friends! The answer is yes, no, and kinda all at the same time.
Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are fermented and dried (and sometimes chemically treated, depending on the quality of the cocoa) in order to separate the cocoa powder from the cocoa butter. While this step is entirely basic, due to this processing the folks at World’s Healthiest Foods don’t consider cocoa to be a whole food.
Still, an ingredient need not be a whole food in order to be healthy. Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, a group of phytonutrients (special chemicals produced by plants) with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. The specific flavonoids found in cocoa appear to have cardiovascular benefits, which is to say that they’re good for your heart!
When you’ve got a chocolate bar packed with refined sugar, fat, and who knows what else, that’s not exactly a health food, and no amount of “but the antioxidants!” is going to make it that way. Sorry, buzz kill, I know. But the good news is that pure cocoa, and very dark chocolate, does appear to have some health benefits.
What’s the difference between cocoa and cacao?
Excellent question! While cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans that have been fermented and roasted, raw cacao is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. This process prevents enzymes in the cacao from being destroyed while the cocoa butter is removed.
Raw cacao has a better enzyme content and overall nutritional value than cocoa, but I’d only recommend paying the extra money for it when you’re going to use it in raw treats. So use cocoa for your cakes, cookies, and anything else that’s going to get a heat treatment in the oven, and use cacao for smoothies and raw balls.
Do you have any healthy chocolate recipes?
Yes! And so do some of my friends from around the web. Well, I’m calling these recipes healthy-ish, because let’s be real about it. People define healthy in different ways, so I’ve rounded up a collection of chocolate treats that include recipes that are vegan, gluten-free, paleo, free from refined sugar. But most importantly, these healthy chocolate recipes are straight up delicious!
Let’s get into it!
13 Healthy Chocolate Recipes:
An easy and decadent melt in your mouth recipe for incredible homemade Dark Chocolate Truffles from Sustainable Cooks. These chocolate and strawberry truffles are a paleo, dairy-free and vegan wonder!
These luscious little pots of Vegan Chocolate Mousse are made with a base of coconut oil, avocado, and banana. Dairy-free, raw, and naturally sweetened, it takes just moments to whirl together this simple, healthy dessert.
This Chocolate and Blood Orange Tart from Fit Foodie Nutter is a divine marriage of fresh & zingy citrus and velvety rich dark chocolate. A perfect fuss free chocolate dessert, it’s vegan, and free from gluten & refined sugar.
These Chocolate Energy Bites are naturally sweetened with dates for a healthy snack. They’ve got lots of protein and healthy fats thanks to almonds, use only 4 ingredients (plus spices), and are incredibly easy to make!
I love healthy chocolate recipes that are also super easy to make. This Easy Everyday Chocolate Cake from Food to Glow is one-bowl, lower sugar and deeply chocolatey. Just add a fork and you’re good to go!
Of all of my healthy chocolate recipes, this Chocolate Black Bean Brownie Smoothie must be the most popular. It’s a rich and creamy healthy chocolate smoothie loaded with protein thanks to a secret ingredient that you totally can’t taste – beans!
These 3-ingredient, 15-minute Bailey’s Chocolate Dessert Pots from Happy Veggie Kitchen are made with coconut cream for a super smooth finish. It’s packed with a double shot of Baileys per portion, but it can be made much lighter if you wish!
This Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe features an unusual ingredient that makes it incredibly moist – quinoa! It’s easy to make, packed with dark chocolate, and is a healthy spin on chocolate chip zucchini bread.