Have a craving for chocolate? You go, girl!

As a kid, I used to reach for a square of 70% dark chocolate from my mother's pantry whenever I needed a quick breakfast on the run, an afternoon snack, or when dinner needed a bittersweet end. But it wasn't until I began eating a vegetarian diet and practicing an extensive exercise regimen that I began to take a closer look at my eating habits. As I battled anemia, I took more time to examine what I was putting in my body rather than what I was leaving out.

During my weekly trip to the health food store, I passed by a bag of raw cacao powder and was excited to find that it contained 16% iron! After some cacao experimenting, I discovered a great post-workout recipe.

Before I share it with you, here's a little science behind the need for iron: Females tend to have lower iron counts because hemoglobin levels are naturally lower in females than in males. Exercising expends energy through the body, which demands iron, and over time this can deplete iron altogether if it's not replenished consistently. It's important for female athletes – especially those vegetarian or vegan athletes – to source B-12 and iron on a regular basis.

Here's my post-workout pudding recipe laden with iron-rich cacao, potassium, and protein.

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Chocolate Chia Pudding:
Serves 4

For chia:

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (soaked in at least 1 cup water, for at least an hour or two)

I usually do this the night before I make the pudding.

Then this mixture (expanded chia seeds) can be added to the rest of the mix, below.

For pudding mix:

  • 2 cups coconut milk (or rice, almond, hazelnut, whatever suits you)
  • 2 medjool dates (pitted)
  • 1/8 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds for garnish
  • 4 tbsp cacao powder (add to taste, if you like your pudding strong, try 6 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Combine chia seeds and nut milk in a bowl.

Whisk together and refrigerate for two hours.

Whisk once more when you take the mixture out of the fridge.

In a food processor, combine the dates, flaxseed meal, cacao, honey, and cinnamon. Pour in the chia/ nut milk mixture and blend together. Add some sliced almonds to top the pudding off.

If you're feeling fruity, add in a cup of your favorite fruit. Strawberries pair great with the bitter cacao.

Enjoy!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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