I’ve been consuming quite a bit of chocolate lately…raw cacao powder, dark chocolate squares, chocolate flavored protein powder, cacao nibs…it’s all yummy! I’ve pretty much convinced myself that there is nothing wrong with several servings of chocolate per day 🙂
After all, here are a few reasons to indulge in a good dark chocolate (not the over-processed stuff):
High in Antioxidants
Cocoa contains flavanols, a type of flavanoid that is only found in cocoa and chocolate. Flavanoids are naturally-occurring compounds that occur in plant foods that act as antioxidants and help counteract free radicals in the body.
Blood Pressure Benefits
Dark chocolate has been shown in studies to lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure.
Lower LDL Cholesterol
Eating dark chocolate on a regular basis has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 10 percent.
Chocolate contains serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. Chocolate also stimulates endorphin production, which creates feelings of happiness and pleasure. In fact, one study found that melting chocolate in the mouth produced feelings of pleasure longer than passionate kissing. This may explain why many people naturally reach for chocolate when they’re depressed.
Several studies have found chocolate to be one of the best cancer-fighting foods along with foods like red wine, blueberries, garlic, and tea. Two ways that chocolate works as a cancer fighter is by inhibiting cell division and reducing inflammation, though research is ongoing and will probably find additional ways in which chocolate fights cancer.
This quick and easy chocolate ricotta layered cup is another excuse for me to indulge in more chocolate.
After using a large majority of the ricotta container in a grain-free blueberry-lemon cake (to come!), I was left with single-serving portion waiting to be used up. After a 3-mile morning run, I was again craving something chocolate and filling…and this speedy breakfast hit the spot!
A creamy base that is lightly sweetened layered with crunchy buckwheat groats, juicy fresh blueberries and flaked unsweetened coconut…I should easily be eating this for dessert but thought a sweet breakfast treat to start the day was appropriate and justified. I can’t wait to make this again with a few variations — different fruits, adding chopped nuts and incorporating granola or a nutty gluten free cereal.
Layered Chocolate Ricotta Cup for One
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (use good-tasting ricotta, part-skim didn’t work for me)
2 Tbsp raw cacao powder (or other cocoa or carob powder)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp honey, agave or other liquid sweetener to taste
pinch of pure stevia powder or liquid stevia to taste (if you don’t want to use stevia, increase the honey/agave)
couple shakes of ground cinnamon
optional: 1/2 scoop of your favorite protein powder (vanilla whey is what I used in the taste test)
1/3 cup fresh blueberries (raspberries, cherries, strawberries, bananas or orange sections would all be delicious)
1 1/2 Tbsp raw buckwheat groats (or a few tablespoons of your favorite cereal; granola would add a nice crunch)
1 Tbsp unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut
1. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, cacao, vanilla, sweetener and cinnamon. Add in good tasting protein powder if using. Stir well and adjust sweetness to taste.
2. Add half of the chocolate ricotta mixture to a cup, glass or small dish. Top with half of the berries, buckwheat groats and coconut. Repeat with remaining ricotta and topping ingredients and enjoy!
Also, I wanted to thank you for all your sweet comments and feedback the past week. Your support, kind words and emails mean so much to me, you have no idea how much your thoughtfulness has touched me 🙂