It’s that time of year – where shiny, wrapped Easter eggs give us the excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. Or indeed any time we walk past those pesky sparkly eggs! But with some careful selection, you can have your egg and eat it knowing you are actually providing some nourishment to your body while you enjoy the chocolate.
Chocolate itself can be good for us. The cocoa is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-ageing properties that can be beneficial to your heart, can lower cholesterol levels and prevent cognitive decline. Canadian scientists found that people who regularly ate chocolate were less likely to have a stroke than those who did not. Those who had about two ounces of chocolate a week were 46 percent less likely to die from a stroke.
Nibbling some dark chocolate before a work-out has been found to increase physical performance in studies. And because cocoa contains flavonol, a type of phytochemical that boosts skin hydration, plumps up the density, and improves blood flow to the surface of the skin, chocolate can also be good for your appearance.
But in all these cases the chocolate needs to be of the dark variety – at least 70% cocoa solids. The more cocoa there is in a chocolate product the more benefits there are. And the more cocoa there is, the less fat and sugar there is too, which are best minimised. Hotel Chocolat have aced the dark chocolate eggs with their 100% Dark Hard Boiled Easter Egg. They have a range of 75% plus chocolate eggs to choose from if you are looking for something a little less intense but which also pack a nutritional punch.
While there’s no doubt nuts are a calorie-dense food, they also help suppress hunger so we are less likely to overeat later. When added to treats, they can reduce the sugar spike from chocolate as they are a low GI food and thanks to their high protein and fibre content, can mitigate the effects of high GI food. Nuts themselves come with the health benefits of nutrients such as vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. Look out for added nuts in your dark chocolate Easter egg and you are likely to want to eat less at one sitting while also reducing your likelihood of a sugar crash later in the day.
For those with intolerances and allergies or specific dietary needs, Easter used to be a time of exclusion, with nothing really on offer. Thankfully that is changing, with more manufacturers taking varied needs into consideration. So Free have created a range of Easter eggs in white, dark and milk chocolate, made in a factory which never uses dairy or gluten. They are therefore 100% vegan and the dark version is low in free-sugars – overall a great choice to make sure everyone in the family is included. For a smaller Easter treat, Rhythm 108 have bags of mini truffle eggs which are vegan and gluten-free.
This year has seen the rise of the cheese Easter egg! This sugar-free but calcium and protein packed version of the traditional eggs is a great alternative for those who have a savoury preference or when you are feeling overwhelmed with the chocolate variety.
Butlers’ Blacksticks have launched a Blue Cheese Easter egg which comes with oatcakes and a sachet of caramelised red onion chutney. The Cheesealicious Easter Egg is made entirely from cheddar cheese, and also comes with crumbly mini oatcakes and chutney. A fun, sugar free twist on an Easter egg which you can eat as part of a meal with vegetables rather than in addition to your meals like a chocolate egg so often is.
Did you enjoy this article? You might also like royal commentator Julie Montagu’s recipe for the ideal anti-ageing sandwich. and have you ever wondered what Eva Longoria says makes her eyes sparkle? – Here’s what she told us.