Time for a guilty confession… I LOVE chocolate. I always have done, and always will do. I realise that chocolate doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with your ‘fitness goals’, but I’ve been experimenting with simple but effective ways to legitimately work a modest amount of chocolate into my training diet. This post contains a real ‘cheat day’ treat which satisfies my cravings, whilst providing my body with the protein, essential fats and antioxidants that it needs. Guilt neutralised, body nourished!
Regardless, there are actually health benefits to be gained from eating high-quality, dark chocolate – as long as you don’t overdo it! Dark chocolate is high is antioxidants which work to reduce free radicals in our bodies and aid cellular repair. Dark cocoa, being densely calorific, is also said to improve energy levels without the need for sugar, and focus the concentration. I aim for a minimum of 70% cocoa, but if you can tolerate it 99% cocoa is optimal, as it has an incredibly low amount of milk, fat and sugar. Yes, at first the taste is bitter, and you might need to work your way up to the high 90s percentages, but give it some time and you’ll learn to love it’s super rich dimensions! In fact I now prefer dark to milk chocolate – and I never thought that would happen! Here’s my recipe for a slice of chocolate indulgence which is packed with protein and a lot healthier than your standard Mars bar.
The ‘treat du jour’ is my ‘Dark Chocolate, Banana & Seeds Protein Muffins‘. With the following ingredients, I made 9 yummy ‘fairy bun’ sized cakes but it completely depends on how big / small you go. Remember, this is not a low calorie miracle, so it needs to be a reward for a heavy training session, but it is rich in what the body needs to recover!
Read about the ingredients & my step-by-step ‘how-to’ guide, HERE!
1 x bar of Lindt 90% dark chocolate.
2 x 30g scoops Whey protein powder – I used vanilla-flavoured ‘Impact Whey Isolate’ from MyProtein in the pictures.
Optional Flax Seed, Pumpkin Seed, Sunflower Seed, Sliced Banana.
– Slowly heat the chocolate in a saucepan (or better still, in a bowl over some boiling water in a saucepan). It’s crucial not to let the chocolate burn so have patience and use a heat-mark of 4-5 (c. 50% intensity).
– Once the chocolate has melted add the 2 scoops of protein powder – stir in for 30 seconds (again timing is of the essence to ensure it doesn’t burn or stick to the saucepan)
– Turn off the heat and use a tablespoon to scoop out the mixture to make small balls in your ‘cake template’ tin. Top it off with your ‘decoration’ of choice. I suggest using nuts & seeds, fruit or berries, as below. You can stir in some of the nuts to become part of the cake proper.
– Once decoration is completed, let the mix set for an hour. I leave it for an additional hour in the fridge to set and solidify as I prefer the taste of very cold, solid chocolate.
– Serve & enjoy with a cup of tea!
For decoration and added goodness:
– Chopped nuts – think hazelnuts, brazil nuts or almonds. They are energy-rich, protein-dense (to promote muscle repair & growth) and a good source of omega 3 fatty acids (essential for brain function, reducing inflammation and anti-carcinogenic properties).
– Seeds – try flax seeds, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. They’re an excellent source of vitamins and packed with protein and bone building calcium. See my muesli post for more on these.
– Sliced fruit or berries – why not go for some banana, orange, blueberries or strawberries. All bursting with flavour making it the perfect treat for the sweet tooth whilst being relatively low in calories. Fruits and berries are full of vitamins and minerals for example 100 grams of strawberry contains 58,8 mg of immune boosting vitamin C, which is c. 98% of your daily recommended allowance.
Hope you enjoy this little ‘chocolate cheat treat’ with a clean conscience for those days when chocolate cravings take over !!