If you've ever wondered whether it's OK to eat chocolate for breakfast, it turns out that science is finally on your side. Not only is eating chocolate for breakfast delicious, but it can actually be good for your health—especially when you're eating cacao nibs for breakfast. Now, what are cacao nibs? According to Serious Eats, cacao nibs are essentially "bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean." In the most basic sense, cacao nibs—also occasionally known as cocoa nibs—are unprocessed chocolate. That means their taste is bittersweet, rather than that of a chocolate bar, since they don't have any added sugar. But they're undeniably chocolatey, with a deep cocoa flavor, and adding cacao nibs to your breakfast is an easy way to get your chocolate fix first thing in the morning.
Cacao nibs are more than just delicious, though. They're also good for your health, a so-called superfood that, according to Jess Dyer, a nutritional therapist and nutritionist at Graze, "packs way more nutritional benefits than cocoa." According to Dyer, "They're high in iron to help combat tiredness, so perfect for breakfast time if you've woken up on the tired side." Cacao is also high in fiber, which helps with digestion, as well as magnesium, which "helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong."
There's no reason to be intimidated by this ingredient, even if you've never used them before. "Cacao is one of the easiest superfoods to add to your daily routine and perhaps one of the tastiest as well," Dyer said in an email, and she offered up three easy ways to eat more chocolate in the morning.
Cacao Nib Smoothies
Dyer recommends blending cacao into "a chocolate smoothie with raw cacao, hazelnut milk, 1 frozen banana, protein of your choosing, cinnamon, a touch of nutmeg." Finish off the morning treat by sprinkling more cacao nibs on top. You can also sprinkle cacao nibs onto your favorite smoothie bowl, "for a crunch to go alongside your blended smoothie bowl ingredients."
Cacao Nib Breakfast Muffins
Eating more cacao can be as simple as adding cacao nibs into your go-to breakfast recipes, and Dyer suggests adding them to your favorite recipe for muffins. If you want a place to start, try this recipe for banana muffins with cacao nibs from Food & Wine.
Cacao Nib Pancakes
Cacao nibs are a common dairy-free substitute for chocolate chips, so feel free to toss them into the pancake batter of your choice instead of regular old milk or dark chocolate chips. Dyer also recommends adding blueberries or raspberries for extra sweetness. Plus, those berries are superfoods in their own right, packed with antioxidants. If you really want to get healthy, try Graze's recipe for cacao nib pancakes with whole wheat and spelt flour.