5x Baking with Chocolate
FIVE times baking with chocolate, how good does that sound? I guess there are some ingredients that you always use whilst baking. Well, for us, cocoa powder is definitely one of these ingredients (besides cinnamon though :p). Cocoa powder, or chocolate, is something that we always have in our cupboard, I mean, who doesn’t love this? Adding cocoa powder is such an easy way of adding flavour to your baking recipes or even to give it an appealing colour. On the other hand, when adding chocolate chunks or chips, you add a good extra texture to your cakes or pies, yummy! But next to these delicious characteristics (and before we start sharing our delicious chocolate baking recipes), we want to tell you a bit more about cocoa powder. Cocoa powder may even have health benefits, so well will explain to you a bit about this! 🙂
COCOA & ITS BENEFITS
Are you kidding? Is cocoa powder healthy and does it provide health benefits? Well, we have to elaborate a bit on this. It is not so that all cocoa products are necessarily healthy or give great health benefits to you. But it is so that cocoa powder on its own (not the one with added sugar), can be quite healthy. It is so that cocoa powder contains flavonols, which are bioactive compounds. These bioactive compounds can lead to various positive reactions in the human body, for instance, cocoa flavonols are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Some studies even show beneficial effects on one’s cognitive performance, so it may even be beneficial during studying!
Cocoa contains high amounts of polyphenols, which give the original cocoa bean this intense bitter flavour. Due to this bitterness, cocoa beans itself are almost impossible to eat! When making chocolate products, the polyphenol content decreases dramatically and the potential health benefits, therefore, decrease as well. Next to this, due to its antioxidative properties, consuming cocoa powder may be beneficial when having certain disorders/diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, inflammatory processes (such as inflammatory bowel disease), and cancer.
Next to this, research shows beneficial effects on cognitive performance when consuming flavonoids (flavonols is a subgroup of flavonoids, which are polyphenolic compounds). Flavonoids are categorised as natural products because it is a plant which contains polyphenolic compounds. Sources of flavonoids are green tea, Ginkgo Biloba (tree) and cocoa. They are known to have various health benefits, mostly due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Evidence shows that most of these benefits are affecting the central nervous system. Flavonoid-rich foods, especially those with high amounts of flavanols, can improve the cortical blood flow. By enhancing the cortical blood flow, the cerebrovascular function in the brain can be improved. This is the part of the brain, which is essential for memory and can thereby lead to improved working memory. Interesting right?
But how much do you have to eat to obtain these health benefits?
Well, this depends of course how your overall health in general is and what your diet looks like, but mostly depends on the type of cocoa/chocolate as the content changes per product. For enhancing cognitive performance, studies say that healthy students will have acute cognitive benefits from consuming cocoa flavonoids, like increased cognitive performance and mood, and a decrease in mental fatigue. These benefits are observed when students consumed a minimum of 520 mg cocoa flavonoids. If cocoa flavonoids are consumed on a daily basis, the beneficial effects were observed with an intake of 150 mg flavanols per day . This means that a lower dose is needed when the product is consumed on a daily basis. Flavonol rich cocoa powder contains more of these beneficial compounds compared to other cocoa products. Flavanol rich cocoa powder contains 25,65 mg epicatechin (flavanol) per gram cocoa powder and 6,46 mg catechin (flavanol) per gram cocoa powder.. To give you a clearer idea: dark chocolate contains about 170 mg of flavanols per 100 gram.
Dark chocolate is the chocolate that contains the highest amount of these beneficial compounds. When you look for cocoa powder, make sure you look for the purest version (non-alkalised or a flavanol-rich one) to obtain more of these health benefits! These types can usually be bought online. For chocolate, it needs to be at least 70%.
Now after reading this, don’t run to the store to buy as much cocoa powder as you can, because, besides these amazing health benefits, cocoa powder also has a high saturated fat content. Therefore, what we always say, make sure you have a varied diet to obtain all the goodies from food. Cocoa powder definitely fits within a healthy lifestyle, but also for this, eat it moderately!
So what do you think, shall we start baking? 🙂
5X BAKING WITH CHOCOLATE
Banana bread can be seen in many different combinations. We also love banana bread ourselves, because bananas make your cake nice and sweet. But be aware! Banana bread is often seen as a healthier alternative than a normal cake. However, due to the many additions, it can still become a pretty unhealthy cake. Do you want this cake to contain less sugar? Then leave the chocolate behind, because the cake is still very tasty. But if you feel like pampering yourself then the chocolate is a very tasty addition.
Brownie with vegetables? UGH, how can that be tasty? Well, we can ensure that you won’t taste a thing! The potatoes give the brownies a great smooth texture and you won’t even feel that there is sweet potato added. Actually, in this way it is so easy to add vegetables to baking recipes to increase your vegetable consumption. It is tasty, nutritious and finished before you know it. So make sure you have enough ingredients so you can make a second batch right away!
Sometimes we don’t have the inspiration to come up with a recipe ourselves. Usually we use a basic recipe and make our own variation of it. Only the other day I felt like baking something, but I just didn’t have the inspiration to came up with something. So I had a look at the website of Fit with Marit and saw this recipe. It looked easy, tasty and simple to make. As you know that’s something we also try to communicate to you with our recipes. I didn’t have spelt flour, so I used oatflour instead. The result, a healthier cake to eat after your workout!
Last weeks we didn’t have that much time to bake, unfortunately, but we will get back to it! Luckily we always have a lot of recipes saved, because we always make pictures and write down the recipe when we make something. Actually, I made these vanilla brownies last year (!) when a friend of ours was finalising his thesis during the summer holiday. I brought these brownies to cheer him up during studying, and I think it worked! He loved it. Now it is the same period again as last year, only now we are also graduated! So besides working, we have time to get some rest and enjoy the holiday, with these lovely vanilla brownies! Who are you going to cheer up with these delicious brownies?
Are you that fan of a brownie too? Especially when a brownie tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Then this recipe is for you! We also made this recipe without cocoa powder, but it was so delicious that we also had to make a chocolate version of it. And believe us, this is one that can be made over and over again. Chocolate and the taste of peanut butter, that’s just a top combination!!
We made these brownies in Venlo, but in Venlo we didn’t have a big oven. In Venlo we only had a camping oven in which we baked all our baking recipes. Believe us, that was a very small oven! But in the Netherlands we say ‘Who does not honour small things, is not worthy of great things’. Anyway, the ingredients are for 1 large oven bowl. But if, like us, you only have a small oven, you can use two small oven bowls.
Did you like these recipes? There are plenty more recipes to discover, so have a look around on our website! Enjoy baking!
- Pubmed: Andújar, I., Recio, M. C., Giner, R. M., & Ríos, J. L. (2012). Cocoa polyphenols and their potential benefits for human health. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2012, 906252. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/906252
- Pubmed: Magrone, T., Russo, M. A., & Jirillo, E. (2017). Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Frontiers in immunology, 8, 677. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00677
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