Sweet Tooth

Affectionately known as a chocolate holiday, Valentine's Day sweets are currently flying off the shelves at lightning-speed rates. In North America, chocolate is actually most consumed on Halloween, followed by Easter and Valentine's Day, but arguably Valentine's Day wins for the most creative uses of chocolate!

Read below for some fun facts and health info on chocolate that will strip you of the guilt about indulging in chocolate!

*Be like the Mayans- their calendar may have been misinterpreted, but they were certainly right when they described cocoa as "the food of the Gods." The Mayans used to prepare cocoa beans in a drink for overall health and energy. Chocolate does have small amounts of caffeine which may be responsible for that energetic boost that the Mayans were talking about.

*Feel Better One Bite at a Time- Eating chocolate increases serotonin (happy hormone), dopamine (also a happy hormone, and curiously enough is related to addiction), and phenylethylamine. All three decrease stress and improve mood.

*Theobroma what?-Theobroma cocao is the full latin name for chocolate and Theobromine, a compound related to caffeine, is found in higher concentrations in dark chocolate. Theobromine as well as other compounds in chocolate have been researched for their effect on opening blood vessels, which theoretically helps decrease high blood pressure.

*Antioxidants Galore- Chocolate contains many antioxidants called polyphenols and we can't really weed out which one works the best. Sometimes there's something to be said for synergy. That is, the effect of all the different antioxidants found in chocolate may be better than isolating any one of them on its own.

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*Magnesium- Yep, you guessed it. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium. Good for the heart and muscles, many people are lacking in this vital nutrient. A craving for chocolate may even indicate a deficiency of magnesium and helps explain pre-menstrual cravings.

*White Cocoa No-No- White chocolate contains no actual cocoa, only the cocoa butter. For health effects it's best to consume a good quality chocolate with a minimum of 75% chocolate content. Get out of the "name brand" chocolates as they are often "supplemented" with extra sugars and artificial flavours. Try brands from sustainable/Fair-trade and organic sources to ensure a good quality chocolate.

Bring on the chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate-dipped cherries, chocolate in boxes, cookies, body paints and fountains!

For your own chocolate indulgence this Valentine's Day see the recipe below.

Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

An easy and quick recipe to enhance a naturally sweet fruit! Remember to choose a good quality chocolate bar with a minimum of 75% cocoa content for the best health effects.

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  1. Create a double-boiler system: Boil water (about two inches) in a small pot so that you can place another bowl in it without spilling water, yet fits the size of the pot.
  2. Wash strawberries and set aside.
  3. Break your good-quality dark chocolate into squares and place in bowl (in pot). Stir continuously to melt chocolate and to avoid burning the chocolate. You can usually turn the element off at this point.
  4. Dip strawberries in chocolate to cover as much of the strawberry as you desire and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  5. Once all strawberries have been chocolate-enhanced, place in the fridge to cool until the chocolate coating hardens.
  6. Indulge and Enjoy!

Posted in Arts Post Date 10/18/2019


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