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, CNS, LN is a licensed functional nutritionist and certified health coach. She was a founding partner of Wellness Minneapolis and was an active practitioner with the clinic from 2014-2022. To connect with her regarding functional nutrition and health coaching services, please follow this link.