Is it that easy to fight a chocolate craving when you see chocolate almost everywhere you go? It’s in the supermarkets, in your local shop, in sweet shops, in TV advertisements, in the meal deals and there is always the dessert menu at your favorite restaurant. It’s definitely difficult to resist to the wonderful taste and the numerical options. The main reason we crave chocolate is due to its high sugar levels. Sugar helps in lifting mood and gives us short-term energy, but at the same time it makes us crave more sugary snacks and it’s the main cause for lots of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
There are lots of healthy chocolate alternatives, which can give us similar or even better satisfaction as they can make us feel full for longer, stop us from craving chocolate and help us recover after training – competition or after an injury. Read on to learn what to eat when craving chocolate.
1. Try these tasteful nut butters.
Nut butters like peanut, almond, cashew, walnut and hazelnut are full of taste, very high in protein and low in carbs. These chocolate craving substitutes contain a good amount of fibers - almond butter is the highest on the list - which can also help improve digestion. They will make you feel full and help you to stop craving chocolate. You can add your nut butter to your porridge or to a slice of whole meal / rye toast. Another version is peanut butter on the top of strawberries, raspberries or apples. They also contain the omega 3 “good” fats, which could potentially help in balancing cholesterol levels.
2. What about these protein yogurts?
The market offers many protein yogurt options that contain about 20g of protein and they are often low in sugar. They are usually found in strawberry, blueberry, apple, pear, and plain flavors. The plain one is very similar to the natural Greek yogurt, which normally contains around 10 – 15g of protein per pot. Yogurt has calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin and is most well-known for the live probiotic strains. There is evidence that probiotics may improve bowel disorders and immunity.
3. Love your pancakes.
Did you ever think that one of your favorite breakfast meals could be cooked healthily, benefit your body and help you become leaner? Just mix up 2 eggs with your favorite whey protein – it can also be flavored like vanilla, strawberry or banana – plus water. After they are ready you can add a bit of natural organic honey, nuts, strawberries or blueberries. It will make you start your day full of energy and with no chocolate cravings. The protein powder should be low in sugars and saturated fat, as well as contain no artificial ingredients.
4. Try protein milkshakes.
For those ones, who would still like to stick to chocolate alternatives, there are also homemade protein shakes with a chocolate flavor. About 15 - 20 g of protein for women and 30g of protein for men, this healthy chocolate alternative can be a great option especially post-exercise as it will boost the rehydration and recovery process. There are also lots of findings which support that the use of low – fat chocolate milk within half an hour after exercise can benefit the recovery process and replace the electrolytes lost during exercise.
5. Almonds – Walnuts and honey.
This is a traditional Greek dessert – the walnuts and honey are given to the bridal couple during the wedding ceremony as it is considered a symbol for wellness and fertility. It’s super easy to prepare and it can actually be eaten as a pre-training snack half an hour before an endurance session. What you need is 10 pieces of almonds and 10 pieces of walnuts – provide about 6 grams of protein - topping up with a teaspoon of honey. Both almonds and walnuts are known to have high levels of vitamin E, which can help protect the cells from free radical damage.
6. Where can I find a non-thick protein bar?
Except of the protein bars you can find in the market, which sometimes contain too many artificial ingredients, sugars and sweeteners, you can try to make your own ones. There are plenty of recipes for homemade protein bars and it’s good if you experiment and try to make your own one depending on the tastes you like. A great combination is to mix up nut butter with a few raisins or dried apricots, flaxseeds, almond milk and whey or rice protein. The bar will be very high in protein, low in carbs and will be a great snack idea pre and post-workout.
It’s always good to have a smoothie as a post-exercise rehydration drink, while it can also be a wake-up meal. It can give a great boost to your energy levels, as it’s full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Smoothies can be made with a variety of fruits – try not to use more than three different ones per shake as it will increase the sugar amount. A good combination will be half an apple, half a pear and 1/3 of a banana. Berries and pineapples give a great taste too. Mix up either low-fat natural Greek yogurt or a nut butter, flaxseeds, some natural orange juice or oat, coconut and almond milk and check which flavor you prefer!
8. How about a fruit omelet?
Fruit omelets are a great breakfast and lunch idea and are even better for the ones who like both sweet and salty foods. Just make your usual omelet with a couple of eggs and add a combination of berries and a teaspoon of natural organic honey on the side. This chocolate craving substitute will be ready in less than 10 minutes and this way you can finally add some more vitamins to your kid’s lunch.
9. Protein cookies with a hint of cocoa.
Usually cookies are just empty calories and they should be avoided especially when you aim for weight loss. When you add this protein powder and cocoa instead of chocolate though, it makes a big difference. Depending on the recipe, one cookie can provide from about 4 to 10g of protein. Adding a bit of cocoa powder to your recipe it will give you a hint of chocolate flavor. Cocoa contains polyphenols and antioxidants which seem to have positive effects on inflammatory - cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders.
10. Yummy low sugar and fat chocolate ice cream!
Ice cream will definitely take some more of your time to be prepared, but you can keep it in the freezer and have it whenever you feel like having a craving. You mainly need two ingredients, low-fat natural Greek yogurt and a protein powder. You can also try a few other flavors like vanilla, strawberry, banana and the combination. If you struggle to find a natural flavored one, then just try an unflavored whey or rice protein and add some natural fruit and a bit of coconut, hazelnut or almond milk.
If you haven’t yet changed your mind about removing chocolate from your cupboard, consider these healthier options which can satisfy your cravings and at the same time are full of nutrients, high in protein and low in sugar!
Article Categories: Food & Nutrition Science