Satisfaction minus the sin: Chocolate that's good for you
IT'S easy to believe that everything that tastes good is bad for you, but chocolate lovers will be thrilled to make the same discovery as Vicki Thondley.
So if you've ever needed a reason to eat more chocolate, read on.
You eat a piece and feel satisfied without having to go back for more.
The idea that chocolate has its own set of health benefits is not a new one, but Ms Thondley believes she has found the key to making it truly nutritious.
By removing all refined sugars, adding in so-called superfoods and using raw, organic cacao butter and powder, she has discovered how to make a nutritious treat that nobody should feel guilty for eating.
She said the idea came from doing plenty of research into proper ways to nourish the body as part of her work as a life coach and counsellor.
"A lot of major food companies have food designers, who create the perfect mix of fat, sugar and salt to make you crave more," she said.
"There are a lot of foods out there marketed as healthy and they're not, but we associate so many negative feelings with chocolate.
"With all the processing commercial chocolate goes through we can end up craving it and want more, then we feel bad about it.
"Our modern day diet is huge on quantity, but has very little nutrition.
"If we switched that around and had more nutrition and less quantity, we feel more satisfied, and wouldn't be reaching for more food. That's the difference with real cacao.
"You eat a piece and feel satisfied without having to go back for more."
She said real cacao was rich in magnesium, iron, manganese, chromium, zinc and copper as well as antioxidants, but these health benefits could be fast overtaken by ingredients added in processing such as refined sugar, milk and sugary fillings.
And the easiest way to avoid having to go over product labels with a fine-tooth comb is to make your own.
Ms Thondley said the most important ingredients were cacao butter and cacao powder.
"For something to be called chocolate, it has to contain cacao powder and cacao butter," she said.
"Chocolate actually starts as a purple bean in a fruit pod that has white pulp around it.
"The beans are like any nut and contain natural oils, so they are compressed and those oils become cacao butter, which is the ingredient that helps to set the chocolate.
"Once the cacao butter is extracted, the rest is ground up to make the cacao powder.
"The more cacao butter used, the firmer the chocolate will be at room temperature."
She said you could also get cacao wafers, which were whole beans compressed before the separation process.
She said the range of sugar substitutes had grown considerably, but recommended going for a low glycemic index sweetener like raw honey or maple syrup rather than artificial sweeteners.
The less sweet you make it, the better it is for you.
You can even add in sweet fruits such as dates or berries, giving you the benefits of whole fruit as well as the richly nutritious cacao.
Natural, low-GI sweeteners include maple syrup, raw honey, ground bee pollen, coconut nectar, and rapadura sugar, which is made from the pure juice of sugar cane.
Once you have the basic mix, you can either make it into a solid chocolate or use it for hot chocolate or baked goodies such as chocolate balls or brownies.
Ms Thondley is running a raw chocolate and superfood workshop on May 31 from 10am-1pm.
To book or find out more phone 0410 608 022 or email email@example.com.