Healthy Substitutions for Milk Chocolate
These days, there’s no shortage of articles about how healthy chocolate is. Don’t get me wrong, chocolate can have lots of health benefits, but only if it’s dark enough. It’s easy to be fooled by Dove or Hershey’s “dark” chocolate. Surely that must be healthy…right? In reality, big name brands like these do not use a high enough percentage of cacao for them to really be beneficial. They come with so much fat and sugar that it would kind of cancel out any goodness.
When shopping for chocolate, try to buy ones that have at least 60-70% cacao to reap the benefits. Brands such Ghirardelli, Godiva, Lindt, and Endangered Species to name a few all have varieties that are dark enough. It’s important to always read the ingredients and look at the nutrition facts to know if it truly is clean.
However, there can be an extra layer of complication to chocolate shopping if you’re allergic to tree nuts like me. Although all of the brands I just mentioned are totally clean and great options, they are processed on equipment with nuts or in the same facility with them.
After a long search for safe, clean, dark chocolate, I finally found one that qualifies! As I browsed the chocolate section of my local Trader Joe’s one day, I was getting discouraged as usual…that is until I stumbled upon their Dark Chocolate Lover’s Bar! It is 85% cacao and is not even made in facility with nuts! The allergy statement explains how the manufacturers are very careful about segregating allergens, but it is “made on shared equipment with milk”. The chocolate does contain soy lecithin as well, so unfortunately this wouldn’t be safe for any of my soy or dairy allergic readers.
If you’re not used to really dark chocolate, try to ease into it. When I dove head first into 85%, I’ll admit it was tough to get used to. Then again, it was my only option, so I just dealt with it and now I love it! If allergies aren’t an issue for you, try taking a gradual approach. Start with something like 50% and work your way up to 60%, 70%, and maybe even 85 or 90! (Honestly, I don’t think I could handle anything darker than 85%, but if you can, that’s fabulous!)
Overall, when it comes to chocolate, the darker it is the better. 60% cacao is about as low as you can go to still reap the benefits. As always, read ingredients and if you struggle with nut allergies (or even if you don’t), I definitely recommend Trader Joe’s “The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar”.
What are your favorite types of dark chocolate? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!