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Some Health Benefits of Chocolate

While we may have been taught since a very young age that all chocolate is bad for you, it’s okay to indulge your sweet tooth once in awhile, for holidays or otherwise. Chocolate is a universal taste among human beings, and some say that nine out of ten people like chocolate – and the tenth is lying.

Chocolate has such a poor reputation from a health standpoint that this may be difficult to believe, but the truth is that we really don’t need to feel guilty about eating it. Chocolate comprised of 70% cocoa is actually a healthy indulgence. However, the relative healthiness of the chocolate you consume will depend on both the quality and the quantity of the chocolate.

Let’s consider the health benefits of chocolate. You probably feel like you get a bit of a rush from eating chocolate. You’re not imagining it – chocolate contains a phyto-nutrient that acts as an endorphin in humans, producing a pleasurable sensation akin to a “runner’s high.”

Chocolate can almost be considered an antidepressant. This could explain why so many people indulge in chocolate when they’re feeling down. Swiss scientists showed that eating 40g of dark chocolate each day lowered the occurrence of stress hormones in the bloodstream, which helps people manage the effects of stress.

Due to its popularity as a food, many studies have been conducted on the health benefits of dark chocolate, and the results are quite positive. One Swedish study found that after a heart attack, those who consumed chocolate at least twice a week tripled their chances of survival over those who didn’t eat any chocolate.

In addition, a Canadian study showed that risk of stroke was decreased in individuals who ate chocolate once a week in relation to those who didn’t.

The benefits of chocolate are imparted by compounds called flavinoids, which are present in the cocoa. These flavinoids act as a potent anti-oxidant in the human body, protecting our DNA from damage from oxidation. This effect means that chocolate could potentially be considered an anti-aging food.

So don’t feel guilty about eating a little chocolate on Easter, or any other day, for that matter. Of course, it’s still best to eat chocolate in moderation; a full bar every day is too much. You’ll also want to find chocolate composed of 70% cocoa or more, and organic chocolate is great if it’s available to you.

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May 20, 2010 Posted by | Chocolate, Food & Drink | , , , | Leave a comment

Making Lists, Making Chocolate

I don’t know if you are a list-writing person or not. I am. Not dogmatically. But I always have a bit of paper on the go beside my computer, so as ideas surface, or I remember things I need to do, I jot them down.

Having had a distracting few days in other areas, I’ve not managed to be near the computer much. As a result, the list has grown and as I approach the weekend, I am now able to work through much of it.

Until a few of hours ago, my list looked something like this:

Write new story
Ring Marie re Gig
Email the Chronicle
Finish Song
Buy Licorice Tea
Ring Radio Station
Listen to Demo
Collect Wood
Make Chocolate

The licorice tea will have to wait. We live about thirty five kms from the nearest town, which does not sell licorice tea. And about forty five kms from a bigger town, which does. So the licorice tea will not be scribbled out today. My lists always end up looking like a major artwork of doodles by the time I finish with them and start a fresh one.

I’ve made the phone calls and done the emails. All related to the business side of my music. The song to be finished will be a joy to do over the weekend, as will listening to the demo.

Collecting wood is a fun thing, which I will do later, when everything else is done, wandering paddocks collecting fallen wood. We don’t have a fire place inside, unfortunately. (But the bath goes in next week. Woo hoo!). With friends coming over to jam on Sunday, we will have a fire going outside as the warmth of an Autumn day slides into the chill of an Autumn evening. Beautiful. It is actually blowing quite strongly at the moment as I sit out here on the veranda writing. This is certainly in my favour for collecting fallen wood.

My most favourite thing on the list though is Make Chocolate. I discovered this great recipe in a vegetarian magazine a little while back and have now made about four batches of it. It is such a hit that I must share it here. It is thanks to Vicki Hare, who as it turns out is also a musician (vicki.com.au). Thank you Vicki, very much. This chocolate, I must say, goes incredibly well with a beautiful cup of soy chai latte. This is speaking from a rapidly experienced woman in this field.

Vicki’s Chocolate Recipe

1 cup cacao powder
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 tbspn coconut butter
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tspn vanilla

Blitz it all in a food processor until thick. Press into a tin, mould or shape into whatever you like. Store in the freezer.

Besides the richness and deliciousness of this chocolate, it is also totally animal free. No baby calves were produced then killed, just to keep a cow milking for human consumption. Nope, it is sugar free, animal free, guilt free and totally scrumptious. I ran out of agave nectar during my second round of it, so used maple syrup instead. Agave nectar is a natural plant syrup, low in calories and great for a number of different recipes. It was equally delicious with the maple syrup, though probably a little bit richer, and it has already been rich enough.

I am also slightly unable to stick to any recipe exactly, something about the artist in me that needs to experiment I think, so the consistency of my chocolate didn’t allow for as much moulding as I had hoped on one very creative, ambitious day. I ended up with a container full of blobs, but they tasted fantastic! I also had no coconut butter (coconut oil) in my pantry at the time of the original recipe discovery and, living so far from town, had to compromise. So I raided my bathroom cupboard for some coconut oil that I had from an Indian supermarket for my hair. And it worked just fine! I am pleased to say though, that I now have some top quality, organic coconut oil in my pantry (which I may also end up using on my hair at some stage).

So if you are writing a list today, or adding to an existing one, please do yourself a huge favour and add Make Chocolate to this list. Your taste buds will thank you, the animal kingdom will thank you, and your friends and family will thank you. But most of all, you will thank you. Bon appetite friends.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Chocolate, Food & Drink | , , , , | Leave a comment