Tuesday, July 10, 2007

For The Love of Chocolate

Ok I’ll admit it…..I am a chocoholic! Every since I was a kid. Anything with chocolate from icecream, to candy, to cookies, and cake. That was my downfall. Grandma always had the candy stash at her apartment in the secret cabinet. The cabinet my brother and I knew to run to as soon as we arrived for a visit. It was a virtual candylovers playground. She knew all the things we loved. From the Hubba Bubba gum (which was impossible to chew with braces btw) to the colorful, sweet, and creamy m&m’s. I don’t know about you but back when there were only 2 kinds…plain and peanut I was a plain lover. I would put some in a small dixie cup (like I needed a way to eat them any faster), so that I could pour them into my mouth. Don’t forget the hershey’s kisses in the oh so pretty silvery wrapping. Back in the day I used to slab some peanut butter on them when I couldnt get my hands on my other favorite, Reeses peanut butter cups….a match made in heaven!

Before I got off on that flavorful trip down memory lane the point I was going to make is related to health. I am sure everyone has heard about the health benefits of dark chocolate or “cacao” which is the actual cocoa bean used to make chocolate. Dark chocolate has antioxidents as well as heart healthy benefits. In my quest to become healthier since having cancer I have changed my diet in many ways but the hardest has been giving up some of the things I love. I think that we still need to have those foods we crave as long as it is in moderation to be successful at our diet and healthful eating habits. So I was happy as a clam to find out that dark chocolate was good for me!

Cacao is now pretty easy to find as an incredient in most dark chocolates out there. The labels will read “60% cacao”, “70% cacao” and that is what you want to look for. Cacao is the unprocessed chocolate straight from the bean. It is the main ingredient used to make all chocolate. I have also used raw cacao in recipes as that is the most healthy, unprocessed, pure stuff as far as chocolate goes although it is quite bitter to eat on its own. You can purchase it in a powder form which makes it pretty easy to use. I use it to sprinkle on vanilla icecream and it tastes great! I also use it in smoothies for the chocolate flavor as well as the health benefits.

Any other chocolate lover’s out there? What is your favorite way to enjoy the cocoa bean?

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