Local fitness enthusiast Jason Murphy remakes favorite meals of his youth into healthy dishes. See the full list of his recipes at www.mysaline.com/shirtless.
Lets Get Dark
Chocolate. I eat it every day. It’s one of the key components to the success of being on this lifestyle free of processed foods and added sugars for the past six years.
The problem with diets is that they are stupid. When people trying to lose weight tell me how restrictive their eating is on whatever plan they read about on-line, it’s no wonder they fail and give up after a few weeks. Diets are so restrictive and low calorie, no one can stay on one for long.
A diet is a temporary attempt for a permanent problem. It’s like trying to drive cross country on one tank of gas. No matter how often you coast down a hill in neutral and tuck in tight behind a big rig to draft, you’re going to run out of gas, and could even crash to make things worse. Your eating habits need to be something you can live with day in and day out, and dark chocolate can fit right into that plan. It’s critical to keeping you sane and off the evening news in your own fast and furious car chase.
Not just any chocolate will do, unfortunately. Long gone are the days of pretending to “inspect” the Halloween buckets for razor blades just to steal the premo chocolate bars from the kiddos. It’s going to have to be dark chocolate, and the good stuff at that.
Those little Hershey Darks don’t make the cut. That’s only about 45% dark chocolate, and has the texture of wet sand in your beach sandals. No, you’re going to need at least 70% dark chocolate, and the higher that percentage is, the better for reducing added sugars. Now that my taste buds have adjusted from the completely exaggerated conditioning of the standard American diet, I’m on 88% dark chocolate, and I love it.
If you are new to this type of eating, start with 70% and work your way up. After some time passes, 88% will become sweet and smooth, and if you get some milk chocolate again, it will completely overpower you to the point you will think it was dipped in a hummingbird feeder.
Green and Blacks and Endangered Species both make excellent dark chocolate bars. They are smooth and creamy, and the richness of the dark chocolate means 2 squares a day is all you need to make you feel like you indulged for the day. I add 11 grams of walnuts and pecans, a few pumpkin seeds, and a few flakes of unsweetened coconut and my dessert is set.
88% dark chocolate is loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, and it can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. All those commercials I see for guys needing those little blue pills might just need some dark chocolate instead. I’ve never heard of needing to go to the ER after three hours of eating dark chocolate either, so just add that to the list of benefits.
There are even studies that show dark chocolate can protect your skin from sun damage and wrinkles. Let food be your medicine, indeed.
Dark chocolate doesn’t have to be regulated to just eating a couple of squares a day. High quality dark chocolate melts well and can do anything milk chocolate can do. Take these truffles, for instance. The smooth texture and intense chocolate flavor make this a great treat, that is sneakily very good for you, and will help moderate your weight.
I don’t binge eat or get overwhelming cravings because I know these babies are waiting for me anytime I need them. When you choose a new “diet” or better yet, a lifestyle change, the most important question is “Can I see myself doing this the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, you are looking at the wrong plan. Having some dark chocolate every day is a pretty easy yes to that question.
Super Dark Chocolate Truffles
9 oz dark chocolate (3 bars) at least 70% and 88% if you aren’t scared
1/3 cup grass fed heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup raw cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp powdered monkfruit sweetener
Chop the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl that can serve as a double boiler:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, gently whisk the heavy cream and vanilla extract until it’s warm and bubbles form along the edge of the pan:
Pour the heavy cream over the dark chocolate and let it sit for two minutes, then stir to combine:
Set a pan with some water over medium heat and place the bowl of chocolate over it as a double boiler. Stir constantly until the chocolate is completely smooth:
Place the chocolate in the fridge and chill for at least one hour. After the chocolate is chilled, use a disher to scoop out tablespoon sized balls. Wear gloves and roll into balls, then place on parchment paper. Whisk the raw cocoa powder, cinnamon, and powdered monkfruit in a large bowl:
Roll the chocolate balls in the powder one at a time to coat, then place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Chill again for 15 – 30 minutes and enjoy. The truffles can be stored in an airtight container at room temp.