The Sweet Superfood You Need in Your Life

by Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott ; Updated August 02, 2018

Cacao is one of our favorite superfoods for nourishing your beautiful body. Why? It is unprocessed chocolate that delivers a concentrated dose of powerful nutrients, including phytochemicals, vitamins and antioxidants. And, of course, it’s delicious!

We love sprinkling raw cacao nibs on top of smoothies, almond or coconut yogurt and chia seed pudding. We also add unsweetened cacao powder to our smoothies and healthy baked goods. You can find a bunch of slimming recipes that contain cacao in our Tone It Up Nutrition Plan. Think chocolaty smoothies, muffins, brownies and doughnuts.

Here are some of cacao’s greatest perks and one of our favorite recipes to enjoy.

It Protects Your Heart

Cacao is full of anti-inflammatory nutrient compounds called flavanols and antioxidants that help support heart health. The antioxidants in cacao also absorb toxic free radicals that can damage your cells. Interested in reaping the benefits? Try this delicious smoothie to start your day.

It Boosts Your Mood

Cacao is packed with the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. During our time of the month, we lack serotonin (that’s why we crave chocolate). No need to deny those sweet cravings. Try creating a homemade trail mix with cacao nibs, or mix them in almond yogurt and store in the freezer for 10 minutes — so delicious! Plus, studies have found that cacao encourages the production of anandamide, a powerful mood improver known as the bliss molecule.

It Strengthens Your Immunity

Cacao is an amazing source of iron, which boosts your immune system and keeps you energized. Since it is plant-based, we recommend pairing it with vitamin C for optimal iron absorption. Get your iron in with this chocolate-and-strawberry muffin — one of our absolute favorites.

Healthy Chocolate Berry Muffins Serving: 12 muffins (1 muffin per serving)
Ingredients:
1½ cups of almond meal
½ cup of vanilla Tone It Up Protein
¾ cup of unsweetened cacao
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of pure maple syrup
1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (from a carton)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
1 cup of chopped strawberries
coconut oil spray

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Spray muffin tins with coconut oil spray.
3. In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk.
4. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients (except for the strawberries) and whisk.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
6. Gently fold in the strawberries.

This is just one of the delicious recipes from the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan. The plan is packed with healthy recipes using superfoods with amazing benefits. You can try the rest (as well as gain access to previous editions) by joining the plan here.

For additional recipes and workouts, check out the new Tone It Up book “Balanced and Beautiful: 5 Day Reset for Your Mind, Body & Spirit.”

What Do YOU Think?

Are you a fan of cacao nibs? Will you be trying these tasty chocolate berry muffins? Let us know in the comments section!

About the Author

Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott are the founders of Tone It Up - a healthy lifestyle brand and Community for women of all fitness levels. Dawn and Scott have inspired millions worldwide to pursue their best life through their energetic and positive approach to all things fitness and nutrition. The duo offers workout content and fitness guidance, the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan, and TIU fitness gear and apparel. To learn more, visit www.Toneitup.com.