The Best Superfood is Cacao (Chocolate), But It Doesn’t Need Sugar

21 Reasons Cacao is One of the Best Superfoods: Share Your Favorite Recipe

Today is National Chocolate Day.

You may be surprised to learn that I’m a huge fan of real chocolate (cacao).

Now, bear in mind that I’m not recommending creamy, sugar-filled, calorie-laden, commercially processed stuff.

No, I’m referring to the real stuff — to deep, dark, sophisticated, raw, sugar-free cacao or Theobroma cacao, “food of the gods,” which is the source of original, natural chocolate.

And I bring you great news:  When you cut out sugar or even dairy, you can still enjoy amazing, tasty, healthy cacao.

Many health experts consider cacao, which is rich in minerals and plant compounds such as polyphenols and flavonoids, the healthiest food in the world.

Of course, back in 1998, before I quit sugar, the kinds of chocolate I overate — and which, I imagine, you overeat — were full of those vegetable oils, GMO soy lecithin, milk and sugar.

Now, I’m so impressed by cacao’s remarkable resume. Thease are some of its many wonders:

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Vegetarian Sugarfree Recipes

Black Bean Veggie Burger
From Ann Johnson, Manson, North Carolina

2 cups cooked black beans – drained
1 pound firm tofu
2 cups vegetables
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup vegetable broth
Black pepper, to taste
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash cumin
Dash basil

Mash black beans and tofu. Set aside.

Saute vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, garlic) in broth with pepper, cumin and basil.

Add veggies to bean mixture along with whole wheat flour and egg to make a firm patty. Add more flour if needed. Bread crumbs, matzo meal or cracker crumbs could be used instead of, or in addition to, the flour. Form into four patties.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil.

Pan fry patties until browned (about five minutes), flip over and brown the other side (about five minutes).

Serving Ideas: You can top patties with tomato, onion and lettuce and serve on a whole grain bun.

NOTE: Patties can be frozen and reheated in a frying pan or microwave oven.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per serving (1 patty)
268 calories (kcal)
9g total fat (30% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
18g protein
31g carbohydrate
9g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
112mg sodium

Ann Johnson can be reached at anny@gloryroad.net.

Pasta with greens and beans
From Mary Jane Detroyer, MS, RD, CDN

1 cup onions — chopped
6 garlic cloves — minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound fresh greens (such as chicory, endive, escarole, swiss chard, kale or spinach) — well rinsed and chopped
3 cups cannelli beans — cooked
½ cup fresh basil — chopped
3 cups whole wheat pasta — short chunky type like ziti, radiatore, tubetti, etc.
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
½ cup low sodium broth

Bring large covered pot of water with one teaspoon of salt to a boil.

Heat nonstick saucepan over low heat. Saut onions and garlic in olive oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the greens and continue to cook to mix the leaves with oil and garlic/onion mixture. Add a half a cup of water or vegetable/chicken broth. Cover and increase heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes watching to see if more water is needed.

Add beans and basil and continue to cook 5 more minutes

When water comes to a boil add the pasta, stir and cover until the pasta comes to a boil. Uncover and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add the beans and greens. Add parmesan cheese and pepper to taste.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Information

Per serving
366 calories (kcal)
5g total fat; (11% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
19g protein
68g carbohydrate
15g dietary fiber
3mg cholesterol
224mg sodium

Mary Jane Detroyer is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and professional speaker. She has a private practice in Manhattan specializing in HIV/AIDS; women’s wellness, diabetes, heart disease and weight management. You can contact her at mjdetroyer@usa.net.

Vegetarian Sugarfree Recipes

Black Bean Veggie Burger
From Ann Johnson, Manson, North Carolina

2 cups cooked black beans – drained
1 pound firm tofu
2 cups vegetables
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup vegetable broth
Black pepper, to taste
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash cumin
Dash basil

Mash black beans and tofu. Set aside.

Saute vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, garlic) in broth with pepper, cumin and basil.

Add veggies to bean mixture along with whole wheat flour and egg to make a firm patty. Add more flour if needed. Bread crumbs, matzo meal or cracker crumbs could be used instead of, or in addition to, the flour. Form into four patties.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil.

Pan fry patties until browned (about five minutes), flip over and brown the other side (about five minutes).

Serving Ideas: You can top patties with tomato, onion and lettuce and serve on a whole grain bun.

NOTE: Patties can be frozen and reheated in a frying pan or microwave oven.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per serving (1 patty)
268 calories (kcal)
9g total fat (30% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
18g protein
31g carbohydrate
9g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
112mg sodium

Ann Johnson can be reached at anny@gloryroad.net.

Pasta with greens and beans
From Mary Jane Detroyer, MS, RD, CDN

1 cup onions — chopped
6 garlic cloves — minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound fresh greens (such as chicory, endive, escarole, swiss chard, kale or spinach) — well rinsed and chopped
3 cups cannelli beans — cooked
½ cup fresh basil — chopped
3 cups whole wheat pasta — short chunky type like ziti, radiatore, tubetti, etc.
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
½ cup low sodium broth

Bring large covered pot of water with one teaspoon of salt to a boil.

Heat nonstick saucepan over low heat. Saut onions and garlic in olive oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the greens and continue to cook to mix the leaves with oil and garlic/onion mixture. Add a half a cup of water or vegetable/chicken broth. Cover and increase heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes watching to see if more water is needed.

Add beans and basil and continue to cook 5 more minutes

When water comes to a boil add the pasta, stir and cover until the pasta comes to a boil. Uncover and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add the beans and greens. Add parmesan cheese and pepper to taste.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Information

Per serving
366 calories (kcal)
5g total fat; (11% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
19g protein
68g carbohydrate
15g dietary fiber
3mg cholesterol
224mg sodium

Mary Jane Detroyer is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and professional speaker. She has a private practice in Manhattan specializing in HIV/AIDS; women’s wellness, diabetes, heart disease and weight management. You can contact her at mjdetroyer@usa.net.

Seafood Sugarfree Recipes


Pan Poached Salmon
From Chef Alexandra Jamieson

2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of salmon
2 cups vegetable broth (canned, from cube or fresh)
1 lemon

Heat oil over medium heat in non-stick saute pan. Add salmon, allow to cook unmoved in oil for 2-3 minutes, then turn over.

Add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and allow to cook for 3 to 6 minutes, until it reaches desired doneness. Serve with lemon wedges.

Preparation time: 3 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per serving
273 calories (kcal)
13g total fat (42% calories from fat)
2g saturated fat
26g protein
13g carbohydrate
2g dietary fiber
60mg cholesterol
889mg Sodium

Chef Alexandra Jamieson can be reached at alex_jamieson@yahoo.com or (917) 345-2302. See her website at www.healthychefalex.com.

Vegetable Sugarfree Recipes


Curried mustard greens with parmesan
From Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.

1 bunch mustard greens or broccoli rabe – about a pound
3 large garlic cloves — sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup parmesan cheese

Cut off most of the thick stems of the greens. Wash well in several changes of water.

Place in four quart saucepan with about two cups water. Push under and simmer uncovered for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until bright green and soft.

Remove from the pot and chop into bite-size pieces. Discard cooking water.

In large (10 inch) skillet, heat the clarified butter or oil, add the garlic slices and saute until they begin to brown lightly. Add the curry powder and mix well, then add the salt.

Add the chopped greens and mix well. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, mix and serve.

Note: You can use clarified butter (ghee) instead of the olive oil.

Preparation time: About 8 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per serving
120 calories (kcal)
9g total fat; (60% calories from fat)
2g saturated fat
5g protein
7g carbohydrate
3g dietary fiber
4mg cholesterol
240mg sodium

Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. is founder of the Natural Gourmet Cookery School and author of “Food and Our Bones” and other books. Her website is www.foodandhealing.com. You can contact her at acolbin@foodandhealing.com.

Oven roasted green beans
From Judy M. Nash, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
1 elephant garlic clove, finely minced
1 cup shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ cup pine nuts (pignolia), toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Grease large baking tray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the green beans, garlic and shallots into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 to 25 minutes, shaking pan every few minutes to turn and evenly roast green beans.

Place pine nuts in shallow pan. Add oil, tossing well. Toast them on the stove top while the green beans are roasting, watching them carefully and shaking the pan frequently. The nuts should be a light golden brown.

When the beans are done, sprinkle them with vinegar and toasted pine nuts.

NOTE: You can substitute thinly sliced sweet onion for the shallots or slivered almonds for the pine nuts if you like. You could also add a cup of coarsely chopped seeded tomatoes to the bean/garlic/shallot mixture. Also balsamic vinegar can be used instead of the rice vinegar.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Information

Per serving
210 calories (kcal)
8g total fat (33% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
8g protein
30g carbohydrate
4g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
17mg sodium

Judy M. Nash can be contacted at MDNash@aol.com.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
From Stacie, New York, NY

6 ounces Portobello mushrooms — sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash sea salt
Dash garlic powder
Dash black pepper
Dash onion powder
Heat oil in skillet over a medium flame.
Add mushrooms. Sprinkle with spices. Grill a few minutes on each side until soft.

You can eat it as a side dish, top chicken or steak with it or add it to stirfries or salads.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 80 calories (kcal)
7g total fat (74% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
2g protein
4g carbohydrate
1g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
3mg sodium

Stacie can be reached at stacie222@aol.com.

Roasted Seaweed
From Stacie, New York, NY

1/2 cup dulse
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic.
Heat oil in skillet over a medium flame.
Add dulse and garlic. Cook a few minutes until the dulse is crispy
Note: You can also use other types of seaweed if you like.

Preparation time: Less than 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 1.

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 69 calories (kcal)
7g total fat (85% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
Trace protein
2g carbohydrate
Trace dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
2mg sodium

Stacie can be reached at stacie222@aol.com.

Side Dishes & Grains Sugarfree Recipes

Oven “fried” sweet potatoes
From Stacie, New York, NY

1 large sweet potato Sea salt to taste Nutmeg to taste Thyme to taste Rosemary to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil

Slice sweet potato very thin, about the thickness of a nickel. Toss with oil.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange potato slices on the sheet in a single layer. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and spices.

Bake for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on desired crispiness.

Notes:

It is best to use long, thin sweet potatoes as they are easier to cut.

You can keep leftover potatoes in the refrigerator for a healthy snack. They are good either hot or cold.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20-40 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Information

Per serving
128 calories (kcal)
7g total fat (48% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
1g protein
16g carbohydrate
2g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
8mg sodium

Stacie can be reached at stacie222@aol.com.

Quinoa Pilaf
From Chef Alexandra Jamieson

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped (a handful)
½ tsp dried sage
½ tsp celery seed

Rinse quinoa well in 2 changes of water. Bring 2 cups water to boil. Then, add salt and quinoa. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in oil; add basil, sage, celery seed, salt and pepper and cook until onions are soft but not brown. Add cooked quinoa and saute 2 to 3 minutes.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 23 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per serving
237 calories (kcal)
9g total fat (34% calories from fat)
1g saturated fat
6g protein
33g carbohydrate
3g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
15mg sodium

Chef Alexandra Jamieson can be reached at alex_jamieson@yahoo.com or (917)345-2302. See her website at www.healthychefalex.com.

Tabouleh with black beans
From Myra Pinkham, Monroe, NY

2 cups bulghur
1 cup lemon juice
4 large tomatoes, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons tahini

Simmer bulghur in 4 cups water until almost soft.

Put bulghur into large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Chill before serving.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes (not including chilling time)

Serves 6

Nutritional Information

Per Serving
265 calories (kcal)
2g total fat (6% calories from fat)
Trace saturated fat
11g protein
53g carbohydrate
14g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
100mg sodium

Myra Pinkham can be reached at MaKaAP@aol.com

Vegetable Rice
From Leila Armush, Belmont, CA

1 medium eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup brown rice — uncooked
Dash sea salt
2 cups water
Pinch black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
Chop eggplant into cubes. Chop zucchini into half circles.

Heat oil in skillet. First add veggies, stir, and then add black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook 5-10 minutes.

In a separate pot, add water and salt. Bring to a boil. Add the brown rice and reduce flame to a simmer. Cook 20-30 minutes.

When the rice is done cooking, add the vegetables to the pot. Stir well.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25-40 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 119 calories (kcal)
2g total fat (18% calories from fat)
Trace saturated fat
3g protein
22g carbohydrate
2g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol
5mg sodium

Leila Armush can be reached at lahowla@hotmail.com.