I love learning about the health benefits of foods I love, like chocolate, almost as much as I love sharing that good news with my clients. Many people come to see a nutritionist prepared to be told they have to stop eating all the things they enjoy and learn to love kale...or else. I like to focus instead on bringing in more of the foods that have a functional purpose for bringing more balance and wellness. If we need to eliminate a food or food group, coming at it from "eat more X" is a much more encouraging focus than "stop eating Y."
Cacao, the raw ingredient that is transformed into chocolate, is a valued food in functional nutrition. Full of a class of polyphenols called flavonols, cacao has major cardiovascular benefits. This potent antioxidant nutrient keeps our capillaries, veins and arteries flexible and toned. Cacao also contains a molecule called anadamide that bring us some bliss - who doesn't need more of that these days?
Chocolate granola may seem wholly indulgent - which is great! - but really, it's a powerful way to start the day. Serve with some non-dairy yogurt and Mixed Berry Chia Compote. This recipe is a nutritious breakfast and a great pre-workout snack. Enjoy!
Makes 8 cups or 16 1/2-cup servings
- 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- 3 cups nuts*
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut (unsweetened)
- 4 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened baking cocoa
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup melted virgin coconut oil**
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Measure out your nuts into a food processor. Pulse 5-10 times to chop coarsely into a desired texture and size.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together oats, chopped nuts, coconut, chia seeds, salt and cacao powder.
- In a separate bowl, mix together maple syrup and melted coconut oil. Pour over the oat mixture and stir well to combine.
- Spread the mixture out evenly onto 2 cookie sheets. You want a thin layer for even toasting. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning on the edges.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before transferring to an air-tight container. This granola will keep for several weeks.
*The granola pictured here contains 1 cup each of almonds, hazelnuts and cashews. Use any mixture of nuts you like!
**Pro Tip: I measure out my coconut oil and put it into the oven to melt while the oven preheats and I get the rest of my ingredients mixed together.
Jesse Haas is a heart-centered and deeply intuitive nutritionist. She approaches each client with a holistic perspective, taking into consideration not just the mind, body and spirit, but also life schedule, stresses and personal preferences to curate a nutrition plan that is unique to the individual. Jesse shows up as a partner in her client’s wellness, not the boss. She combines nutritional counseling with whole foods culinary education to help her clients understand why they’re not feeling well and how to change that one delicious meal at a time. Schedule a complimentary phone consultation to learn how to use food as medicine to find balance in your own life. Jesse is co-founder of Wellness Minneapolis.