What do you think when you think chocolate? Probably:
a) YUM – gimme
b) Indulgence, a “treat” or even a “cheat”
Chocolate is known as the “delicious thing you can’t have too much of” or the “forbidden fruit”. Except not fruit… damn if only chocolate were a fruit… I’d have it every day. Right? Oh wait, I do.
Yup no joke. I eat chocolate every. single. day. The answer is yes, chocolate can fit into a health, plant-based, balanced, wholesome diet. Yes you can have it every day without guilt, and yes it’s actually good for you. The only difference is that the chocolate I’m talking about here is probably a little different from the chocolate you’re thinking of.
You’re probably thinking Kit-Kat or Snickers bar, or those Betty Crocker instant chocolate cakes. The chocolate I’m talking about is the real deal. The pure, raw, unprocessed stuff: the real chocolate, or known as “cacao”.
See that’s the good stuff.
We just basically took that, added tons of sugar, processed it at high-temperatures, stripped it of it’s nutrients, added more sugar, probably some salt, milk fat, artificial flavours and colourings, maybe corn syrup and some type of modified starch mix AKA took something HEALTHY and made it literally ready to clog some arteries. Sense-making yes?
Nah bro. That makes no sense. Plus what’s super uncool is that we went off, made a chocolate-based product and now cacao’s got the bad rep and has to live with it. Un-frikin-cool.
So then what’s the hype with real cacao? Well before we process the F out of it, cacao is actually crazy healthy. It’s the highest source of plant-based iron, it’s full of antioxidants, calcium and serotonin & dopamine (neurotransmitters responsible for making you happy).
Alright so now that we’ve established that raw cacao is this magical fruit brought to earth to bring us health and deliciousness, (but instead we just combined it with a ton of crap, ruined it’s rep and voila) now the following questions pose themselves:
How do I get my hands on this stuff, what does it look like and what the hell do I do with it?!
YUP. All valid questions.
a) It’s sold in pretty much all health food stores, in Australia you can find it in grocery stores or you can find it online (for example here) – make sure you go for a “raw” version, and don’t get confused with “cocoa” (“cocoa” is the processed form).
b) It usually comes in the form of either cacao nibs or a finely ground cacao powder
c) You can do EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING with it, the world your oyster, go out, go get em. But in all seriousness, if you’re in need of some inspo, I use love to use it as a topping, to make sauce, in protein shakes, in raw cake, to make chocolate bark, brownies… literally I just realized that almost all the recipes in my “desserts” tab includes it.
Alright, so what if you’re not ready to take that jump and try make something of the raw powder stuff, but you just want a good ol’ choc bar? Well gotcha covered as well. There are lots of amazing companies which make vegan chocolate bars. Easy. So you don’t want plain old chocky but what a flavoured one? Gotcha covered as well. Alter Eco is just one of the amazing brands that gives you vegan chocolate is tons of flavours: Almond, Quinoa, Sea Salt, mint, dark… These bars are so delicious and perfect for making recipes (or just eating the entire bar in one sitting… guuiiilty). Oh and on top of it they’re organic & fair trade. Like 3 birds with one stone there (except we don’t kill birds here #veganlife).
~Now enough talking time for the recipe…
Chocolate Pumpkin Mini-muffins
- 2 cups pumpkin (roasted)
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 2 tablets AlterEco choc
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- 5 prunes
- 1 tbsp chia
- ½ cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup flour (I used gluten-free flour mix)
- 2 tbsp cacao
- pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp coconut oil for greasing
- Put 2 cups of chopped raw pumpkin with a tsp of coconut oil in a tray in the oven at 200 degrees for about 40 minute or until very soft
- Break up 1 tablet of Alter Eco chocolate and put in a ramekin in a pot of boiling water until the chocolate is melted (Bain Marie style).
- Put your roasted pumpkin, melted chocolate, spices, prunes, chia seeds and almond milk into a high-speed blender until smooth
- Put batter into a bowl and add cacao, flour, salt, baking power and baking soda, and mix well until smooth
- Take a mini-muffin (or normal muffin) tray and brush melted coconut oil on the sides of the tin
- Fill up all of the muffin tins about half way, cut up your 2nd tablet of chocolate into squares, place 1 square on top of the batter, and put another spoonful of batter on top.
- Place mini-muffins in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a knife poked in the middle comes out clean (remember that you with a chocolate centre your knife might come out with chocolate, but as long as it’s not batter you’re good)