You know that one really hokey Elvis Costello song called She? There’s a verse in it that goes
[She may be] The trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay
That, ladies and gentlemen, sums up the entirety of my relationship with chocolate. You know what I mean: you walk past the ice cream stall and like Pavlov’s dog, immediately start salivating at the sight of frozen creamy goodness behind the glass panel. The mint looks tempting, the cookies and cream sounds really good right now, but you always go back for that one flavor that: chocolate.
Sadly, chocolate has been demonized for its role in weight gain leading to obesity and diabetes. There’s actually nothing inherently wrong with chocolate itself, except most of the chocolate we consume is the Frankenstein’s monster of chocolate: it hardly resembles its original cocoa form after being processed to within an inch of its life. The problem lies with the ingredients added to the cocoa during processing; things like milk solids, milk fats, and sugar are thrown into the mix to result in the chocolate that we have come to know and love (and hate). And then it goes through even more processing to become the chocolate bars, ice cream, and snacks we pick up thoughtlessly at the grocery store.
But when consumed in sensible amounts, dark chocolate can actually be beneficial for you. There is no universal standard for what constitutes dark chocolate, but the European Union has pegged it to contain at least 35% cocoa solids. Here are some benefits you can gain from consuming dark chocolate:
- Antioxidants. Dark chocolates are contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants to help keep the effect of free radicals at bay. This is why there have been a surge in home-made chocolate masks, which claim to help hydrate skin, protect against UV damage, and slow signs of aging.
- Gets your blood going. One of the reasons why dark chocolate is good for your skin lies in its blood-thinning properties: when blood flows freely, it is able to deliver oxygen with more efficacy around your body.
- Heart-healthy. When consumed in moderation, dark chocolates containing 70% cocoa solids have shown to decrease LDL cholesterol. It also contains antioxidants such as beta-carotene and copper to help slow the inflammation of heart cells.
But I understand that slowly nibbling on a single slab of dark chocolate just won’t cut it. The temptation to reach out for your favorite chocolate-flavored coffees and drinks peaks when our bodies could do with a wake-up call. Chocolate-flavored coffees and drinks are delicious, but for the most part, they are nutritional black holes. To make up for this flavor and nutrition disconnect, Oriflame of Sweden–yes, the very same Oriflame that produces cosmetics–recently released a chocolate-flavored incarnation of Nutrishake.
Nutrishake is a powdered nutritional supplement. It has been available in strawberry and vanilla, and now it offers a new chocolate variety. Spokesperson, Farah Quinn, was on hand at a media gathering to demonstrate her personal preparation of the drink; with protein shakes, the number of ways it can be prepared is limited only by your imagination.
Here’s her recipe:
- 2 scoops vanilla Nutrishake
- 5 date palms
- 1/2 pear
- 700 ml chilled coconut water
- Powdered cinnamon (topping)
- Put all ingredients in blender, pulse, and serve (for 3 servings)
I like the idea of using coconut water instead of yoghurt or milk, but I did worry about how it might end up being overly watery. That wasn’t the case at all: the final drink was perfectly thick and frothy, like a good milkshake. The product also claims to help curb hunger for people turning to it as a means of weight loss or weight control, so it is best consumed half an hour before meals.
The nice thing about these types of protein shakes is how you can control what goes in it: depending on what your body needs, you can add as many fruits and vegetables into the mix. The final taste and texture is also yours to personalize: if you don’t like yoghurt, Farah’s idea of substituting dairy products with coconut water is a more viable option for the lactose-intolerant.
Do you drink protein supplements because you don’t have time to sit down for a square meal, or are you trying to lose a bit of weight? Sound off in the comments and let us know how things worked out for you!
Additional food photos by Alana Soehartono.