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Chocolate vs. Vanilla: The Battle of the Best

27 min read -

The battle of chocolate versus vanilla won’t tear families apart, but it will certainly raise some passion over dessert. Chocolate and vanilla are two of the most popular flavors, but that’s about all they have in common. Some will argue that one is the clear winner. Others will say they each have their own applications, and that there’s room on the table for both of them. 

Of course, there’s no surefire way to choose a definitive winner, but there’s an excellent debate to be had. One may be healthier than the other. The other may be more versatile. It’s a big game of pros and very few cons. 

We love them both, but we can totally understand why some people might prefer one over the other. 

 

What is Chocolate?

Chocolate is technically a bean. On its own, without any added sugar, it boasts many of the same health benefits as beans. Raw cacao beans boast a few grams of protein, a lot of fiber, a little calcium. A bar of dark chocolate contains nearly all of your daily copper and manganese, and more than half of your daily iron and magnesium. Needless to say, chocolate is a win for your body.

The only problem is that chocolate is seldom used by itself. It’s almost always used in conjunction with milk and sugar to turn it into a more dessert-y food. It’s typically used as more of a flavoring than a main event. This is especially true in the case of milk chocolate or candy bars. Chocolate’s reputation comes from these uses. It’s easy to think that chocolate is always up to no good, but it isn’t the chocolate that’s the problem. It’s what people do with it.

If you want real chocolate, choose a variety that contains 70% or more cacao. Dark chocolate and bittersweet chocolate will typically fit the bill. Their lower sugar content and limited use of added ingredients keeps them as close to the real thing as possible. You’ll get the flavor and the benefits of chocolate without all the stuff your body doesn’t need.

 

What is Vanilla?

Vanilla bean isn’t actually a bean. It’s the fruit of a very specific kind of orchid flower. These flowers are hard to cultivate, and they only grow well in certain regions of the world. The orchids also don’t produce very much, making the supply scarce and cost high.  Vanilla packs a lot of flavor into a very small fruit. One vanilla bean pod is enough to lend its sweet and delicate flavor to an entire pint of ice cream. It may be difficult to cultivate, but a little goes a long way. 

Vanilla contains a modest amount of beneficial antioxidants, although the strength of its flavor means that these antioxidants are often diluted into recipes. The most significant benefit of vanilla comes from the way it’s used to replace ingredients that won’t do much for your body.
Vanilla beans are an excellent substitute for sugar. They provide a natural sweetness and a rich, satisfying flavor that can easily be used to replace sugar in your coffee or tea. Just remember that a little bit of vanilla goes a very long way - you don’t need to toss the whole bean in the cup to enjoy it. A single drop of pure vanilla extract is more than potent enough. 

Last but not least, vanilla boasts a unique benefit that not many foods can offer. Smell and taste are closely related senses, and vanilla is used as an aromatherapy aromatic. Many people find that the fragrance and flavor of vanilla induce a calming effect. 

Do Both Chocolate and Vanilla Serve the Same Purposes?

Chocolate and vanilla are often used for the same purposes. They flavor lattes, ice cream, cakes, frosting, protein shakes, brownies and blondies, and so much more. The difference is in how they do what they do. Vanilla will impart flavor. Chocolate will do a little more. 

Vanilla provides a mild and agreeable sweetness, and its subtle nature is what led to its name becoming a synonym for “bland.”  Although vanilla catches a lot of heat for its simplicity, it’s one of the most versatile sweet flavors in the world. It’s often used in many prepared baked goods. You’ve probably been enjoying the flavor of vanilla without realizing it’s a key player in the ingredients list of many things you enjoy eating.

Chocolate is a hearty standalone flavor. It can overpower the taste of other ingredients, which is why it’s such a popular flavor for protein shakes or green powders that would otherwise taste a little too healthy to be enjoyable. While chocolate and berries do work well together, the flavors tend to compete. It’s best to have that plain mocha or dark chocolate brownie and enjoy the taste of chocolate all on its own. 

 

Which is Healthier?

Neither is unhealthy. Chocolate is full of nutrients and can be an integral part of a healthy diet. Vanilla is the perfect substitute for sugar, removing nutritionally empty refined sugar from your diet and lending a small amount of antioxidants to every recipe you make.

It’s important to remember that healthy base ingredients don’t make a healthy overall food. You can cover broccoli in table sugar, and it no longer retains its status as a nutritious addition to your dinner plate. You need to consider what else is going into your meal (or dessert) to create a full portrait of health pros and cons. 

Both vanilla and chocolate have a place in a healthy diet. If you’re looking to eat more beneficial foods, chocolate does have a slight edge. It contains more beneficial nutrients and antioxidants than vanilla does and is generally consumed in larger amounts than vanilla. If you’re most interested in powering your body, chocolate is going to do more for you than vanilla will.

There are both vanilla and chocolate plant-based ‘ice creams’ that will always be healthier than conventional ice cream, especially if they’re formulated to power your body. Snow Monkey uses fruits, seeds, maple syrup, and antioxidants in every flavor. It’s the application for the ingredient that counts. 

 

Which is Better?

You can have and enjoy almost everything in moderation. It’s easier to have a larger portion of a dessert in a balanced diet if that dessert is designed to provide you with the nutrients you need to keep your body going. It won’t be the worst thing to tuck into a little bit of dessert every night if that dessert contributes to your overall well-being.

Here’s the real situation. This is what is referred to as a false dichotomy. There’s absolutely no reason to choose between vanilla and chocolate if they’re both served in a healthy context. Why not combine the two? Have a scoop of vanilla Snow Monkey and a scoop of chocolate Snow Monkey in the same bowl. 

Both vanilla and chocolate fit perfectly into a balanced diet. If you’re eating them without added sugar or artificial flavors, you can enjoy them as often as you want. Snow Monkey (in any variety) is a great way to power your body. Choose your favorite flavor, or don’t. Enjoy every flavor. You don’t have to be a loyalist to one or the other. Isn’t variety supposed to be the spice of life?

 

The Takeaway

We’re all great and noble hardworking people who deserve a little bit of dessert. Whether we prefer that dessert to be chocolate or vanilla is completely up to us. You can even enjoy it without guilt if you choose a healthy and nutritious dessert like Snow Monkey. Snow Monkey is healthy enough to eat for breakfast. If you’re a dessert fiend, you can tuck into an entire pint a day. 

There are people who don’t care for either, and that’s fine too. Chocolate and vanilla are far from the only flavorful ingredients often incorporated into desserts. Devout lovers of strawberry also have a say in this debate. All three powers combined create the pink, white, and brown spectrum of Neapolitan, and everything in the mix is equally delicious.

Enjoy what you want, how you want it -- this battle of flavors isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, anyway.




Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-cacao-nibs#1  

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/vanilla-comes-from_n_5021060 

https://slate.com/human-interest/2005/08/how-vanilla-became-shorthand-for-bland.html 

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