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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.

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

Some Important Tips For Sugar – free Recipe

There are so many good reasons to reduce the amount of sugar in the foods that we eat. Processed sugar, especially in the amounts that we eat it here in the United States, is a major contributor to obesity, and provides very little substantive nutrition for the number of calories that it delivers. While it is easy to reduce sugar in some aspects of your diet, there are some sticking points. If you love to bake, for instance, you’ll find that just cutting out the sugar in many recipes will result in a failed recipe. In many recipes, sugar is more than just a sweetener. It provides texture, contributes to browning and may serve to help other chemical processes happen.

That does not mean you have to give up on baking if you want to cut out sugar. There are a number of tips that can help you reduce sugar in your favorite cakes, cookies and other sweet baked goods and still enjoy them. These tips are helpful for cooking with sweeteners such as Splenda Granular.

In some recipes, sugar is important for the structure and texture. This is especially true in candies and confections like nougat, and in frostings and sweets. For best results, you really can’t replace the entire amount of sugar with a sugar substitute. You can generally replace about 25% of the sugar called for in the recipe. If you must cook completely sugar free, then try recipes that use other natural sweeteners for flavor and sweetness.

If your cakes, breads and muffins don’t rise as high when using a granulated sugar substitute, try adding ½ cup of nonfat dry milk powder and half a teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of sweetener that you use.

Bake your cakes and muffins in smaller pans. Instead of 9 inch round cake pans, use 8 inch pans with two inch high sides.

Cookies and cookie bars often need brown sugar for their texture. If you want to keep that chewy-crunchy bite, you’ll probably need to keep the brown sugar, and only replace the white sugar with a sweetener.

Experiment with your favorite recipes. You can get excellent results by replacing the sugar and much of the fat with applesauce or fruit purees. The best choice for fruit purees? All natural baby food, for more details visit to with no sugar, salt or preservatives added. Bananas, peaches, prunes, carrots and sweet potatoes are all great choices for dense cakes, cookie bars and muffins.

Cookies made with artificial sweeteners often don’t spread well when they bake. To help them bake better, use a fork sprayed with cooking spray to flatten each cookie slightly before placing them into the oven.

Jams and jellies often rely on sugar to help activate pectin in recipes. You may need to use some extra fruit pectin to help your fruits set up properly if you are using an artificial sweetener, or going au natural.

If your sugar free baked goods are coming out a bit too dry, for more details visit to try adding a bit of thinly sliced or grated zucchini to the recipe. The flavor is neutral, but it will add moisture to your breads, muffins and cakes.

Pick the Right Sweetener
Some sweeteners react badly to heat. Aspartame, for instance, loses most of its sweetness during baking, so sweeteners that use aspartame should be confined to recipes where you can add the sugar at the end of the cooking – puddings, frostings and the like.

Use flavor enhancers to emphasize sweetness in recipes. For instance, an extra teaspoon of vanilla per cup of sugar substitute will bring out the sweetness. Hone or molasses in quick breads and muffins will add a bit of a flavor boost. Other possibilities for enhancing flavors include lemon and orange zest, almond flavoring, and butter flavoring.

Sugar free baked goods often look pasty and uncooked because sugar caramelizes during baking to give everything a golden brown color. You can simulate the browning by spraying the surface of the batter or dough with a bit of cooking spray before putting it in the oven.

Other ways to simulate browning include adding cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter.

Most granular sweeteners do not appear to get as creamy and smooth, when mixed with butter, margarine and shortening and it may even separate when you add eggs. It won’t affect the final product; just continue on with the recipe.

Cooking with Yeast
Sugar substitutes won’t activate yeast, so if you’re making yeast breads with a sugar substitute, you’ll need to retain at least two teaspoons of sugar in the recipe, or replace the sugar with another natural sweetener like molasses or honey.

Adjust Bake Times
Baked goods cooked with granulated sweeteners may bake more quickly than the recipe dictates. Check cakes 7-10 minutes before the recipe’s bake time, and brownies, quick breads and cookies 3-5 minutes before the recipe says it will be done. Remember that sugar free recipes may not brown during baking and rely on other indicators.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Beer, Food & Drink | , , , | Leave a comment