Can you have an Easter healthy chocolate eating plan? YES! Easter can be a time of indulgence and temptation. Too much sugar, dairy or gluten (think hot cross buns!) and many of us may feel a little regretful by the end of the long weekend. Rather than forgo Chocolate and other treats altogether, here’s a little insight into how to incorporate your long weekend indulgences into Easter Healthy Eating.
Chocolate Checklist for your Easter Healthy Chocolate Eating Plan
According to Fairtrade International, many cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate. (1) The organisation points out that widespread poverty, deforestation, gender inequality, child labour and forced labour are persistent problems in the cocoa sector. A quick label check will give you the peace of mind you are looking for.
Organic cocoa beans are produced using farming practices that work in harmony with the local ecosystem to ensure sustainability. This means that farmers can continually produce crops without depleting their soil of nutrients – so no more forest-clearing. Organic farming also emphasises renewable resources and conserving energy and water. (2) Pretty good reasons to get selective when it comes to your choice of beans.
Dark (70% or higher)
A study concluded that dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses energy intake compared with milk chocolate. (3) The theory is dark chocolate has a more intense cocoa flavour than milk chocolate. It creates a stronger sensory signal which may lead to a stronger sensory satiety response. The satisfaction from a smaller quantity is great for portion control. Other benefits associated with dark chocolate include lower blood pressure and lower risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. (3)
Dairy-free and/or Refined Sugar-free
When you are avoiding dairy and minimising sugar, there are still plenty of options to choose from – you need to know where to look – go on an Easter egg hunt before Easter! Check out this list of vegan chocolates, some of which are also refined sugar-free.
Dark chocolate (70%–85% cacao) provides 36 mg of magnesium per 100 kcal(4) and contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods. (4) Antioxidant effects of cocoa may directly influence insulin resistance, thus reducing risk for diabetes. (4) It can actually be good for gut health too (more reason to keep it dairy and refined sugar-free to maximise these benefits) as cocoa polyphenols also modulate intestinal microbiota, thus leading to the growth of bacteria, suggesting that cocoa polyphenols may behave like prebiotics. (5)
As chocolate is quite energy-dense, (read high in calories!) overindulgence, of course, increases the risk of weight gain. Overall, research suggests that moderate cocoa or dark chocolate consumption benefits likely outweigh the risks(4). Some studies conclude that chocolate may reduce appetite, preventing weight gain. (5) helps with your Easter Healthy Eating.
Celebrate your way!
- Easter foods aren’t limited to chocolate and hot cross buns.
- Enjoy a seafood feast or a traditional roast dinner (perfect for a rainy Easter weekend)
- Or be like the Easter Bunny and opt for carrots, in the form of a healthy carrot cake of course! Check out our Recipe Page for this recipe that’s so good it rivals chocolate!