We’re willing to bet that if you’re reading this blog, you’re looking forward to enjoying some chocolate over the coming holiday season. The good news is that a large and ever-growing body of scientific evidence shows that chocolate can be a healthy and actively beneficial part of our diet. For many of us, though, that means upgrading our relationship with one of our favourite foods.
This is the perfect time of year to make that change as a family and move towards a healthier, more satisfying relationship with chocolate. You’ll be giving your children a better understanding of chocolate and teaching them valuable nutritional lessons, which will help them make better choices in the future. Here are our tips:
1. Introduce kids to good quality dark chocolate early
It’s a stereotype – albeit one with plenty of everyday evidence to support it – that children go crazy for milk and white chocolate, but don’t really like dark chocolate. That’s easy enough to understand, as the former varieties give children a simple, sweet sugar hit while the latter can have a more bitter taste. At least, that’s the dark chocolate most of us grow up with.
As we Chocolutionaries have discovered and discussed, dark chocolates made from fine cacao have a range of incredible flavours that don’t require any additional additives to taste amazing. We’ve seen children of all ages eat and enjoy chocolate of up to 75% cacao, without thinking of the taste as bitter or unpleasant.
What we’ve found in our own experience is that kids who are introduced to this kind of high quality chocolate at a young age quickly come to appreciate it, and many in fact prefer it to sweeter alternatives. This holiday season, we’d encourage you to substitute milk and white chocolate for top quality, artisan dark chocolate and use it as an opportunity to help your kids think more about the food they eat.
2. Choose whole chocolate, not chocolate-coated sweets
It’s important to remember that the health value of chocolate varies greatly depending on how it’s made and, of course, what other ingredients it’s mixed with. Therefore, it goes without saying that chocolate bars that include a range of other sugary sweets – nougat, honeycomb, wafers or popping candy to name a few – will have a vastly different nutritional profile than pure chocolate.
Aside from the other ingredients, the chocolate used in mixed sweets, chocolate sauces and drinking cocoa is often of the lowest quality, high in sugar and low in cacao. These products are popular because they’re cheap and addictive because they’re sugary. They also have almost none of the health benefits found in high quality artisan chocolate.
Take the opportunity to avoid the chocolate-coated sweets that are often associated with the festive season, and instead familiarise yourself with a new, better kind of whole chocolate.
3. Prioritise quality over quantity
Children learn to think of chocolate as a sugary, guilty pleasure treat to be saved for special occasions. When those special occasions arrive, they tend to gorge, filling their bellies until they feel sick. This is clearly an unhealthy way to eat and can create bad habits for the future.
The best way to discourage this habit is to provide kids with a reasonable – not excessive – amount of chocolate and teach them how to appreciate it. One of the amazing things about high quality artisan dark chocolate is how satisfying even a small amount can be, reducing the urge to gorge that has traditionally been caused by high levels of addictive refined sugar in chocolate.
4. Continue the educational experience with a Chocolution chocolate exploration kit
Chocolution’s unique chocolate exploration kits are the perfect gift for an inquisitive family. They combine the fun of a hands-on educational experience with a delicious result everyone can enjoy.
Our most popular kit, the Explorer, gives you all the ingredients and instructions to make solid chocolate in two ways, as well as a third delicious chocolate-based recipe. The Time Traveller is a chocolate-drink exploration kit, taking you on the evolutionary journey of chocolate drinks from 4000 years ago to the current day. Our most advanced kit, the Botanist, gives you four different types of fine flavour cacao from around the world to roast, taste-test and experiment with, showing the diversity of flavours and versatility of this amazing food.
Each of these kits can be used by children under adult supervision, and each are currently on special for £15. Grab one for Christmas and start your own personal Chocolution!
Viva la Chocolution!