Birdie Benefits of Dark Chocolate

By Cate Ritter

Image courtesy of joannawnuk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of joannawnuk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nothing completes a victory round quite like a sweet tooth satisfying chocolate treat! But, before you grab a candy bar from the clubhouse, it’s important to recognize that not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate, with a 70 percent cocoa content or higher, contains more health benefits and less sugar than milk chocolate varieties. Look for a bar with whole food ingredients and a sugar content of less than 10 grams per serving. Dark chocolate may not directly reduce body fat, but provides a healthier alternative to those conventional sweets that are sure to expand your waistline and wreck your round.

Dark Chocolate Benefits

  1. Lowers risk of stroke and heart disease.
  2. Boosts heart health by decreasing blood pressure.
  3. Reduces cravings and provides high satiation.
  4. Increases insulin sensitivity and reduces diabetes risk.
  5. Protects your skin with antioxidants.
  6. Quiets coughs by relaxing the vagus nerve.
  7. Improves mood and reduces stress.
  8. Increases circulation with blood-thinning properties.
  9. Improves vision by increasing blood flow to the retina.
  10. Increases blood flow to the brain to enhance mental performance.

Post-Round Indulgences

  • Vanilla protein shake with cacao powder and frozen cherries
  • Greek yogurt with cacao powder, stevia and raspberries
  • Dark chocolate bar with a handful of almonds
  • Dark chocolate squares with a banana and walnuts

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (warmed so that it’s in liquid form)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • To taste stevia (about 10 mini scoops powdered)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 70 percent dark chocolate bar, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter (for cookie sheet)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Blend dates, nuts and vanilla in a food processor until a paste forms. Add baking soda, salt, butter, egg, cinnamon and stevia. Mix thoroughly.
  • Scrape the batter into a bowl and stir in coconut and chocolate. Form 12 portions of the dough onto a buttered cookie sheet, and then gently flatten each one with your fingers.
  • Bake until nicely browned, about 15 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large avocados, mashed
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  • In a food processor or blender, add ingredients and process until creamy.
  • Serve chilled as is or as a dip for banana slices, berries or cherries.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

 

Chocolate Covered Berries

Ingredients

  • 2 dark chocolate bars (70% cocoa content or higher)
  • 2 cups fresh organic strawberries or blueberries

Instructions

  • Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir frequently until completely melted, and then remove from the heat.
  • Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  • Stir berries into the melted chocolate. Spoon small clumps of berries onto the baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days.

 

Cate Ritter’s road to nutrition was literally born on the links. A top ranked Northern California Junior and standout collegiate athlete, Cate speaks the player’s language, clearly understanding the unique demands of both competitive and recreational players. Her business, Cate’s Nutrition Kitchen, offers nutrition consulting for corporations and individuals looking to feel better and reach their potential through better health. For more information email cate@catesnutrition.com