4 Delicious (& Healthy) Ways to Enjoy Dark Chocolate For Breakfast

Dark chocolate for breakfast? You don't have to ask me twice! That answer will almost always be "OF COURSE!"

Turns out, dark chocolate can actually be quite good for you. Its polyphenols may help boost endothelial function and support healthy blood pressure. In fact, chocolate may actually help reduce blood pressure in those with prehypertension! (Source)

And, compared with milk chocolate, dark chocolate may provide a greater satiety boost. (Source)  That means that, you'll likely feel satisfied for longer after indulging in that rich, decadent chocolate goodness.

But not all chocolate (and not all dark chocolate) is created equal. Yet, when products are made with "real" chocolate, you may believe otherwise....that's the tricky, confusing part about food marketing. Terms like "real," "pure," "natural," and "clean," are not regulated terms, which means they can be used to describe almost anything. Case in point: this Keebler Cereal which was recently added to the Health Hall of Shame

When selecting a dark chocolate, I recommend at minimum 68 or 70% cacao most of the time. At the farthest, darkest, most health-promoting end of the spectrum you get 100% cacao, found in cacao powder and cacao nibs. There's no added sugar, milk, or cocoa butter added here, and these two cacao foods can easily be added to oatmeal, DIY energy bars, over fruit, in trail mix, or in/on smoothie bowls. 

So when you want to enjoy chocolate (real chocolate!) for breakfast, here are my top 4 delicious -- and nutritious -- ideas for you to enjoy dark chocolate for breakfast.


Easy Breakfast Waffles

Ancient Grain Waffle with Peanut Butter, Cacao & Berries

Waffles with Berries and Cacao

On top of two toasted ancient grain, whole grain or gluten-free frozen waffles (I like these from Nature's Path), spread your favorite nut butter, slice and layer over 4-5 strawberries, then sprinkle with a tablespoon of cacao nibs. Delicious! 


On-The-Go Chocolate Breakfast Fix

Dark Chocolate Almond Perfect Bar

For those mornings you need to get out the door quick, grab-and-go options like a Dark Chocolate Almond Perfect Bar provide a nutrient-balanced way to enjoy a satisfying breakfast with the dark chocolatey flavor you crave.  Beyond the benefits of dark chocolate, each Perfect Bar is loaded with 20+ organic superfoods, like tomato, spinach, kale, and flax seed - but don't worry, you can't even taste them!

 


Dark Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

Triple Chocolate Smoothie Bowl or Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Mix cacao powder into your smoothie or top your favorite smoothie with cacao nibs to get that chocolate taste, without the sugary syrup! This Triple Chocolate Smoothie Bowl (click to get the recipe!) is becoming a classic in my house, as is this Chocolate Cherry Smoothie.


DIY Energy Bites

Energy Balls with Cacao Nibs 

Energy Bites with Cacao

I like making a big batch of energy balls (like these Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Energy Bites from Ambitious Kitchen) and storing them in my refrigerator or freezer for easy options when I crave a chewy, sweet, chocolatey bite (or two) in the morning. 


Well, there you have it! 4 delicious (and healthy!) ways to enjoy dark chocolate for breakfast. 

Now tell me: what are your favorite ways to enjoy the foods you love, like dark chocolate, first thing in the morning? Share it with the world in the comments below so we can all get more of the healthy ideas we crave!

 

 

 

 

4 Satisfying Infused Waters & Ices For Summer

Summer is here, which means rising temps...and as the temperature rises, so too does the desire for cold beverages.

InfusedIce

If you're like many of my patients, it's likely that you want to enjoy summer and enjoy an icy treat...without wrecking your nutrition plans. 

To that end, I have just the solution for you! Infused waters and infused ices are bursting with flavor, free of non-nutritive ingredients like artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners, and they pack in a powerful antioxidant punch!

Here are 4 infused waters and 4 infused ice recipes that are perfect for better summer hydration. 

How to Make Infused Water and Infused Ice Cubes

4 Infused Waters + 4 Infused Ices 

Strawberry + Basil 

The Health Benefit: Strawberries are chock-full of vitamin C, while basil boasts anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties! 

Make Strawberry + Basil Infused Water: Wash berries and basil; halve berries. Add strawberry halves and whole basil leaves to water. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to infuse. 

Make Strawberry + Basil Infused Ice: Wash strawberries and basil. Mince berries into fine pieces; finely mince basil. Add berries and basil to the wells of an ice cube tray. Add water. Freeze. 


Parsley + Cucumber + Lime

The Health Benefit: Parsley is packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, and antioxidant nutrients like beta-carotene and luteolin. Cucumber and lemon provide an exciting nutrient profile, too. This blend packs in a flurry of flavor with just a tiny amount of produce. 

Make Parsley + Cucumber + Lime Infused Water: Wash parsley, cucumber, and lime. Chop cucumber into 1/4 inch slices. Add parsley and cucumber to water. Squeeze in lime juice, to taste. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to infuse. Because of the acidity, drink this combo through a straw!

Make Parsley + Cucumber + Lime Infused Ice: Wash parsley, cucumber, and lime. Finely mince parsley and cucumber. Add to the wells of an ice cube tray. Add lime zest to ice cube trays. Add water. Freeze. 


Blueberry + Sage

The Health Benefit: The calming, warm flavor of sage pairs perfectly with the mildly sweet blueberry, with plenty of nutrition, too. Sage is full of flavonoids and phenolic acids, including rosemarinic acid (also found in sage's sister herb, rosemary). Plus, blueberries bring plenty of anthocyanins to the table (or rather, the glass). 

Make Blueberry + Sage Infused Water: Wash blueberries and sage. Add blueberries and sage leaves to water. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to infuse. 

Make Blueberry + Sage Infused Ice: Wash blueberries and sage. Chop berries into fine pieces; finely mince sage. Add some chopped blueberries, some whole blueberries, and minced sage to the wells of an ice cube tray. Add water. Freeze. 


Mint + Lemon + Ginger

The Health Benefit: This infused combo is bold on flavor...and it may help belly blunders. From motion sickness to pregnancy induced nausea, mint and ginger have traditionally been used to soothe upset stomachs and indigestion.

Make Mint + Lemon + Ginger Infused Water: Wash mint leaves, lemon, and ginger. Add whole mint leaves and a knob of peeled ginger to water. Squeeze in lemon juice, to taste. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to infuse. Because of the acidity, drink this combo through a straw!

Make Mint + Lemon + Ginger Infused Ice: Wash mint leaves, lemon, and ginger.  Finely mince mint leaves and a knob of peeled ginger, and add to the well of an ice cube tray. Add lemon zest to ice cube trays. Add water. Freeze. 


Infused Water

Infused waters and ices make it easy for you to get your summer sip on, healthfully! 

So how can you enjoy infused waters and ices more often this summer? Here are my tips:  

  • Add produce/herbs to your water bottle. Some water bottles (like this one) are made especially for infusing! 
  • Make a large pitcher of infused water and sip on it throughout the day. Enjoy the infused waters plain, then eat the berries when finished with your sips or add them to your next smoothie.
  • Have ingredients on hand to make infused water for when you're craving something sweeter than plain water. 
  • Fill a large pitcher with water and fruit/herbs to serve at backyard BBQs this summer. 
  • When making infused ice, serve the infused ice over water or sparking water for a fancy flair. 
  • Serve infused ice with a 1/2 glass of white wine and a 1/2 glass of sparkling water for a light and fancy boozy beverage. 
  • Experiment with fun ice cube molds - some trays feature big ice cubes, some trays are for mini ice cubes, and some ice cube trays work better for putting ice inside a water bottle!

What will you sip on this summer? Share it with me in the comments below or over on Facebook! I love hearing what you have to say!

Triple Chocolate Smoothie Bowl with Peanut Butter and Coconut

Last night I was craaaaaaaving chocolate... that feeling that no salad can satisfy. The need for something dark and rich and melt-in-your-mouth tasty. 

Know the feeling?

Triple Chocolate Smoothie Bowl with Peanut Butter and Coconut Shreds

So instead of ignoring the chocolate feeling, I whipped up this triple chocolate smoothie bowl with peanut butter and coconut and all my dreams and wishes came true!! ✨✨✨

It was SO good - think chocolate ice cream sundae meets healthy protein shake - so I knew I had to share it with you! 

This chocolatey goodness takes less than 10 minutes to whip up and satisfies that chocolate craving with almost 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and vitamins & minerals, too! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl | YES! Nutrition LLC - This smoothie bowl tastes like ice cream!

Triple Chocolate Smoothie Bowl with Peanut Butter and Coconut

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop of Vega choc-o-lot protein smoothie powder
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 4 frozen cauliflower florets
  • Ice

Toppings (Add Your Faves): 

  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon cacao nibs
  • 1 teaspoon dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened coconut shreds

Instructions:

  • Blend together the unsweetened vanilla almond milk, protein powder, banana, and frozen cauliflower florets in a high-speed blender (I used a Vitamix). Add enough ice to reach your desired consistency. 
  • Add in ice to thicken to your desired texture and blend again. Pour into a bowl. 
  • Melt peanut butter. Drizzle overtop the smoothie bowl. Sprinkle on your favorite toppings, like cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips, and/or unsweetened coconut shreds.

4 Dairy-Free Yogurt Replacements For When You Want Yogurt But Can't

I love yogurt! If you've seen my WIAW posts or Instagram stories, you know that I've enjoyed it multiple occasions - with berries and hemp seeds for breakfast, with a Perfect Bar for dinner, or with walnuts and honey for a sweet after-dinner dessert. 

I've written a post about how you can choose the good-for-you yogurts when you head to the grocery store, and I've also shared some fun and healthy yogurt choices. 

Yogurt fits into a healthy diet for so many reasons - it's a great source of calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones, delivers probiotics to help support a healthy gut and promote immune health, and -- when strained -- it delivers an ample source of protein. Accompanied by berries and nuts, plain yogurt makes a fantastic meal or snack. Plain yogurt can be added to smoothies and soups, or used as a substitute for butter and sour cream. And, when people have difficulty chewing, its smooth texture makes it a healthy addition to a soft-foods diet. 

However, for reasons like milk allergies or dairy avoidance, not all people can enjoy or want to have yogurt.  

So, instead of yogurt, here are four options that are equally tasty and uniquely nutritious to deliver the silky smooth texture and delicious flavor you want. 

1) Make Chia Seed Pudding

Chia Seed Pudding | YES! Nutrition LLC

It's simple, it's smooth and it's super nutritious. To make, simply stir together 2 Tablespoons of whole chia seeds with 1/2 cup of almond milk and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or overnight. When chia seeds swell and the texture resembles pudding, add in your favorite flavor-options. I like fresh raspberries, cacao nibs and shredded coconut in mine! 

2) Try this Brassica Coffee Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Brassica Coffee Chocolate Avocado Mousse | @thegreenfisch | YES! Nutrition, LLC

What could be better than coffee AND chocolate? Well, as far as taste is concerned, I believe not much! ;) Coffee and cacao are combined in this recipe from @thegreenfisch for Brassica Coffee Chocolate Avocado Mousse so that you get the taste you crave plus some of the health benefits of broccoli - without the broccoli taste. You'll get fiber and healthy fats from your avocado plus magnesium from the cacao, too! Talk about a total taste AND health win! 

3) Make Whipped Coconut Cream

For a yogurt replacement over or under berries, make whipped coconut cream. Place a can of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. Once chilled, scoop out the thick coconut cream (leave the watery part in the can and drink or use it in a smoothie) and whip for 3-5 minutes at high-speed in your mixer until peaks form. You can add in a little sugar or vanilla for extra flavor, or just leave it out. Check out this recipe for inspiration!

4) Pick Plant-Based Yogurts For Probiotics

Sans dairy, plant-based yogurts like Forager's Cashewgurt and Kite Hill's Almond Milk Yogurts deliver a creamy texture and pack a powerful probiotic punch! Of course, this option is going to be more similar in taste, texture and nutrition than others on the list, so if you really want the real deal, this will be your closest alternative. 

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Which one of these ideas sounds most delicious to you? Let me know what you think sounds best in the comments below!