It also doesn't hurt that cacao is packed with nutrients that will help you stay healthy during the holidays. While you could rely on your mom's traditional cocoa powder, I thought I'd give this national holiday a superfood spin by highlighting cacao instead. Not only does raw cacao boast over 40 times the antioxidants as blueberries, it's also the highest plant-based source of iron. If you're looking to add more magnesium or calcium to your diet, cacao can help with that too. In fact, consuming cacao has even been shown to improve people's moods and help fight depression...so why should you not go a little cuckoo for cacao this holiday season?
Whether you're a cacao veteran or don't know where to begin, keep reading to discover some of my favorite cacao-crazy gluten free and vegan recipes! (Readers with a big sweet tooth, you may want to have a bib on stand-by!)
Need a delicious breakfast for Christmas morning? Then try having my favorite healthy dessert for breakfast: a creamy smoothie bowl! Simply add cacao to your favorite smoothie recipe for a luxurious twist. For an ice-cream-like breakfast, combine ingredients like bananas, vanilla and zucchini for some hidden veggies. You can also experiment with a Sundae Smoothie by adding strawberries and topping your bowl with homemade chocolate sauce made from coconut oil with cacao powder.
If you're craving a cozier way to start your morning, load up on (oatless) oatmeal instead. While chocolate oatmeal may not sound like anything new, a few extra ingredients can take it to the next level. For instance, maca powder adds a subtle sweetness that perfectly complements cacao's rich flavor. You can also experiment with berries for a hit of tartness (Christmas cranberries anyone?), shredded coconut for a tropical twist or cacao nibs for a chocolate overdose.
|Some of my favorite breakfasts...|
If you're worried about battling an afternoon slump during holiday shopping, try sneaking cacao into your snacks. My personal favorite, of course, will always be homemade granola. As long as you don't spill a pound of cacao into your mix, cacao can meld with most flavors, whether you're feeling like a hit of pumpkin, a chewy/crunchy form of your favorite green smoothie, or another use for that extra popcorn. And, of course, I'm lovin' bliss balls for easy fuel that stays good for months in the freezer.
|Crunchy, chewy and creamy madness!|
If you're craving even more ideas on how to celebrate National Cacao Day (and the rest of the holiday season), here are some of my favorite recipes from the blogosphere:
- The Best Vegan Hot Chocolate: all of Brandi's recipes at TheVegan8 get me drooling, so of course I had to include her version of this holiday classic.
- Cocoa Nib and Macadamia Nut Muffins: for crunchy-chewy lovers, you can't go wrong with this nut-studded muffin!
- Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie Bites: for a hit of cacao and plenty of festive flavors, this bliss balls are the perfect bite.
- Chocolate Hemp Grain Free Waffles: PurelyTwins have way too many delicious looking chocolate recipes for me to include in one post...but this is a winner for breakfast or dessert.
- Paleo Double Chocolate Cookie Dough: because the only thing better than healthy chocolate chip cookies is healthy cookie dough!
- Flourless Brownie Thins: if you fight over the crispier, corner pieces of brownies, you'll love these thinner, fruit-sweetened treats.
Whether you're a sucker for everything pumpkin or enjoy chocolate everyday of the year, this Tuesday definitely gives you an easy excuse to dive into some extra chocolatey goodness. And, with these recipes just a click away, baking gluten free and vegan with cacao powder has never been easier.
In fact, a national holiday has never tasted so healthy... or so sweet!
*Also found at Inspiration Monday, What'd You Do This Weekend, Tasty Tuesday, Turn it Up Tuesday, What's Cookin' Wednesday, Allergy Free Thursday, Vegetarian Mama, Pretty Pintastic Party, ShareFest and Wine'd Down Wednesday!*
What's your favorite way to include cacao in your diet? What festive flavor do you enjoy most around the holidays? Tell me below!