Borrowing habits from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the Paleo diet focuses on a simpler way of eating. It favors whole, nutrient-rich foods, and nixes "new world" foods like processed foods, dairy, grains, and sugar. The restrictions are many, so naturally it would seem like chocolate is certainly not on this diet's list of approved foods.
And yet the internet, cookbooks, and shelves of Whole Foods are filled with chocolate desserts that claim to be Paleo-friendly. It's confusing, right? Can your really eat chocolate and call yourself Paleo?
Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Is Approved, with a Caveat
The answer is no, you're not cheating. Turns out it is legit to indulge in chocolate, in moderation, and still be well within the boundaries of following the Paleo diet. There are some caveats, though, because not all chocolate is created equal. If you're following the Paleo diet and need a chocolate fix, the rule of thumb is the higher the percentage of cacao, the better.
Choose an option that's at least 70% dark chocolate and dairy-free. There are many chocolate bars and baking chips that get the stamp of approval, along with unsweetened cocoa powder and cacao nibs. Read the label first to be sure the chocolate doesn't contain any restricted ingredients.
Why It's Okay
So, why exactly are some types of dark chocolate okay while other varieties are not? The short answer is that it all comes down to additives. And the approved chocolates you can eat while following a Paleo diet don't contain many (if any, at all). Dairy-free dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao doesn't contain refined sugar, milk, or emulsifiers.
What to Expect from Paleo-Friendly Chocolate
While I don't follow the Paleo diet, I succumbed to the lure of Paleo-friendly chocolate bars and cups (including Hu Kitchen, Eating Evolved, and Primal Kitchen) last year after seeing so many wellness bloggers post about them all the time.
If you like dark or bittersweet chocolate, you're probably going to enjoy Paleo-friendly chocolate. The flavor is rich and intense, yet not at all overwhelming or even that sweet. It's also worth noting that this chocolate can be pricey, so be prepared to spend a little more on it.