Valentine’s Day comes at a really unwelcome time of the year for someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the pursuit of good health. No matter what I do during the holiday season, I always end up fighting a cold, letting my carbs float up, and generally celebrating a little too much with friends and family.
I had it beaten this year, though. I encountered all the typical slowdowns from holiday obstacles and managed to still build up a head of steam by the time 2018 rolled around. I wanted to enter the new year with momentum, hitting the ground running on the first day of the year — and I did. It’s been a great year so far with all the unhealthy social cues of the holiday season in the rearview mirror.
Then the Valentine’s Day candy came out in the grocery stores. Full stop to the momentum.
You don’t even have to partake in the candy (and I don’t) for it to erode your will and momentum. The message is pretty powerful. Love is candy and sweets. You don’t love someone unless you hand someone a big box of diabetes. It doesn’t seem like the best of ways to celebrate life, health, and your loved ones.
To be sure, there are a lot of terrific options for keto and low carb friendly Valentine’s candy and desserts. I just wanted to double down on my determination this year and come up with something that would actually be healthy and nutritious. Not simply a crutch that let me play a health-neutral version of the same game on display in my supermarket’s candy and baked goods aisles.
So, it seemed like a good time to utilize an ingredient I have been tinkering with recently — cocoa nibs.
To the uninitiated, cacao or cocoa nibs are simply a more marketable term for “crushed up cocoa beans”. They’re powerful medicine and pack a nutritional punch in the department of vitamins and minerals with every spoonful.
Cocoa nibs taste like little bits of 100% cocoa solids chocolate, because that is what they essentially are. I have a deep and abiding love for really dark chocolate, but not that dark. I like healthy food — I’m not a masochist. There’s no danger of sitting with my two pound bag of cocoa nibs and eating them with a spoon.
Here is the thing, though — we are using our cocoa nibs as a condiment. When sprinkled on top of yogurt and dead ripe raspberries, they together become a magical composition. You don’t taste the ingredients individually, you taste them as a chord. The natural sweetness of the keto-friendly raspberries, the creaminess of the naturally low carb yogurt, and the intense chocolatey-ness of the zero sugar cacao nibs.
It almost seems unfair that it is so good, and my wife remarked as much. It seems like it should be incredibly unhealthy and have a mountain of sugar in it — except it doesn’t. It’s actually even nutritious.
I’ve even upped the ante recently making it with my homemade lower-sugar yogurt and hemp hearts on top. It doesn’t just have to be a Valentine’s Day dessert, it can be a terrific breakfast side — a role it has taken on here, as well.