Today we celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day. When eaten in moderation, semisweet chocolate chips containing 70 percent cacao may offer more health benefits than you’ve ever dreamed possible. These tasty morsels can offer a quick pick-me-up, lower your blood pressure, control appetite and improve blood circulation. In short, indulging in healthy chocolate chips can keep your brain sharp, your blood flowing and your heart healthy.
Dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants, lowers the risk of heart disease and improves blood flow to the brain and heart. It contains soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, zinc and selenium.
The physiological and emotional benefits are something to celebrate too. Chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins generating feelings of pleasure and promoting a sense of well being. Chocolate contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid needed by the brain to produce serotonin – the brain’s “happy chemical.”
While the little morsels we celebrate today contain health benefits in moderation, sometimes the chocolate chip cookies aren’t so healthy. Try these healthier options and have a Happy Chocolate Chip Day!
Chocolate-Chip Sweet Potato Cookies
Two large sweet potatoes, baked with peel removed and flesh pureed
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons natural almond butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup oatmeal
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Combine eggs and almond butter and beat until smooth. Fold in sweet potatoes and stir lightly to combine. Lightly stir in oatmeal, chocolate chips, and cinnamon. Drop by the tablespoon full onto prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until done. Let cool and enjoy. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Quinoa Banana “Chocolate Chip” Bites
1 cup instant quinoa (for gluten free option) or oatmeal flakes
2 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons organic peanut or almond butter (add more if you want some more flavor)
1/2 cup organic cacao nibs (for a sugar free option) or vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Next, roll into balls or make drop cookies by dropping tablespoon sized cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, remove and cool on wire rack.