New Year's Challenge: Small changes (Day One)

As we cap off 2018 with celebrations and indulgences and head forward into the new year, undoubtedly you or someone you know will be making resolution to diet in some way or fashion: whole30, paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, juice cleanses, detoxing...the list goes on and on. Instead of starting off the new year with a drastic diet and severe restrictions, how about making small, simple changes that not only can have a positive impact on your waistline, but also improve your health?! Are you up for the challenge?

I’m going to be posting a series of small, simple changes (think swaps and add-ins) you can make starting now and moving forward into the new year. Not only will they help you start 2019 on the right foot, they also provide many health benefits that will keep you in good shape for the future. Let’s play the long game, people and make sensible resolutions you can actually maintain. Challenge yourself and try to start swapping these ingredients one at a time. Are you with me?! Let’s go.

Starting off with a ridiculously easy and incredibly delicious switch: swap out your cocoa for cacao. Common “cocoa” has been chemically processed and roasted, destroying and eliminating a large amount of the naturally occurring goodness in raw cacao. Raw cacao is a superfood for good reason. Here’s are a few reasons you should make the change and start consuming one of the healthiest foods on the planet:

  • It contains over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries. Yup, you read that right! In case you don’t know, antioxidants are molecules that inhibit damage to cells and can help you balance free radicals and fight tissue damage that can lead to diseases such as cancer. And let’s not forget the visible benefits like glowing skin…

  • It’s the highest plant-based source of iron. Since it’s not a meat-based iron, for maximum results, you’ll want to combine it with a form of vitamin C (there’s a reason chocolate and oranges taste so good together).

  • It’s rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium (important for things like heart and bone health, digestion, and brain function).

  • It’s a natural mood elevator. Raw cacao is a great source of scientifically proven bliss chemicals like serotonin and tryptophan. These neurotransmitters are associated with feelings of happiness and can help to reduce anxiety and alleviate depression. What a tasty way to get your happy on!

Now that you know some of the health benefits cacao provides, here are some easy ways to incorporate it into your diet:

  • Sprinkle it in your oatmeal

  • Add it to a smoothie

  • Brew a hot chocolate

  • Make a chocolate banana “ice cream” (throw some frozen bananas in your blender or food processor until it turns to ice cream consistency)

  • Bake some cacao muffins (our whole family can’t get enough of @thebettyrocker Chocolate Black Bean Muffins)

  • Grab a bar of raw, organic chocolate

Don’t forget to check back in tomorrow for day two of the small change challenge!