A Chocolate A Day Can Keep You Healthy

It is widely believed that eating dark chocolate is good for cardiovascular health. Some health and lifestyle experts, however, emphasized that there is no evidence for this fact. Recently, the British Journal of Nutrition published a new study, which supports regular consumption of chocolate. Before changing your diet to eat more chocolate and sweets, you should understand that this study is published based on clinical observation and available data.

According to the new study, the researchers from Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), university of South Australia, university of Warwick Medical School and university of Maine suggested that consuming a small amount of chocolate every day can help to prevent insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The study considered the data of 1,153 people between the ages 18 and 69. When comparing the health of various participants, the research group found lower insulin resistance and healthy liver enzymes in those who claimed that they ate around 100g of chocolate every day. Insulin resistance is one of the very important factors determining the onset of cardiovascular diseases.

The academic researchers proposed the hypothesis that chocolate can be useful for insulin sensitivity and liver enzymes. This study is conducted rigorously, noting down the lifestyle and diet preferences of the participants. The consumption of tea and coffee is also monitored. Both tea and coffee contain polyphenol which is useful to accelerate cardiometabolic effects of chocolate.

The visiting academic at the University of Warwick Medical School,and Scientific Director of department of population health at LIH, Prof Saverio Stranges said that cocoa based products can be suggested as dietary recommendation to improve cardio health and metabolism. However, he added that the results are simply observatory and more robust evidence based trials are required. He also emphasized that natural cocoa product is entirely different from highly processed commercial chocolates.

Among those who participated in the study, 80% of the individuals said that they eat at least 24.8g of chocolate every day. These people were active, young and had higher educational status compared to those who did not eat chocolate regularly. The principal investigator of the study, Dr. Ala’s Alkerwi said that the people who consumed chocolate had significant socio-demographic profiles, better health access and healthy lifestyle habits. This can also be an important contributor for the reaction of the body to insulin and liver biomarkers.

Researchers have agreed that randomized control studies and additional observational research are required to truly understand how chocolate is useful in reducing insulin resistance and preventing disorders related to cardiometabolism.

The Surprising Benefits of Raw Chocolate

Chocolate is often seen as an indulgence, a naughty little treat that always leaves us feeling a bit guilty after we’ve taken the last bite, but is it really such a bad thing?

Actually, chocolate isn’t half as unhealthy as you might believe. It just depends on the kind of chocolate that you’re eating. Milk and white chocolate are great for a treat and should be enjoyed guilt-free, but other types of chocolate have some surprising benefits you might not have been aware of.

Dark chocolate, however, is a different story. Studies have found that dark chocolate has a lot of health benefits (though it’s not an excuse to start scoffing with wild abandon). Here are just some of the health benefits of dark chocolate:

• Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants (in fact, one of the best sources on the planet)
• Dark chocolate can improve your blood flow as well as lowering your blood pressure
• Dark chocolate can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease

While everyone has heard about how great dark chocolate is, is it the only tasty treat that’s not bad for us? This brings us to raw chocolate, which is often touted as a ‘superfood’ and has many people interested in food and nutrition touting its advantages. Is raw chocolate much different from dark chocolate?

Chocolate is made from Cacao beans (this is where cocoa comes from), which are picked, fermented, roasted, ground and pressed before being mixed in with fat and sugar. Raw chocolate comes about when manufacturers decide not to roast the cocoa beans. Instead, they use cacao beans that have been dried out naturally in the great outdoors, which is apparently a better method for preserving all of the nutrients and maintaining higher levels of antioxidants.

Raw chocolate is rich in the following nutrients:

• Magnesium
• A whole range of vitamins
• Heart-healthy essential fat
• Protein
• Fibre

While it’s not quite the same as dark chocolate, it does share some of its health benefits, with studies suggesting that raw chocolate can also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are a couple of extra bonuses too, with raw chocolate being good for aiding digestion and the components of cacao can help to improve your mental wellbeing.

Of course while dark chocolate has a pretty dedicated following of fans at this point, people are still unsure about raw chocolate, especially when it comes to taste and quality. That being said, it is starting to gain some momentum and more and more people are switching on to it, which means that we will soon be seeing better quality control and better quality raw chocolate products, and you can already buy some fantastic organic chocolate online.

For instance, Chocolat Lovers sells a range of organic raw chocolate along with other more specialised chocolate products. As a luxury chocolate vendor, you won’t have to worry about the taste or the quality because you’ll be getting the best out there.

Eating Healthy Is the Key to Happiness

The importance of health has been ingrained in our minds since time immemorial; so much so that we are often reminded of the phrase that if health is lost then everything is lost. It is a challenging task to remain hundred percent healthy nowadays thanks to inorganic food, polluted drinking water, smog filled air that we are breathing and last but not the least, lifestyle disorder. It is important to have a balance diet and regular exercise. Keep checking your BMI and make sure that it is under control. Obesity leads to a number of disorders and diseases so try to cut down on carbohydrates and avoid junk food as much as you can.
Healthy eating should start as early as an infant. Babies should be fed only mother’s milk because that is the only and most nutritious thing that a baby survives on during the first few months. When the baby is breastfed, the mother should maintain a diet specifically focusing on iron and zinc rich food. Calcium is also needed to give strength to the bones because a new mother has to do a lot of running around. Malt based food, which is mainly extracted from barley, is a highly nutritious substance. Aqueous extracts of barley malt, called “wort” contain all the essential vitamins in the B family (niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, nicotinic acid, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), biotin, and folic acid); plus amino acids and protein, minerals, (such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc), and soluble fiber (glucans). Malted Food beverages like Choco Malt, Malto Vitaa, Champion, Choco Vita, etc are excellent sources for a healthy life.

Once the baby becomes 5 to 6 months old, the weaning process will take place. The mother will gradually replace or add other sources of food with breast milk. Usually mothers feed formula or mashed banana and sometimes mashed rice with boiled lentils. It is prudent to give the baby a specially prepared weaning food, mixed with fruits, vegetables and various pulses. In other words, kit should be a judicious mix of Protein – easy to digest and helps in rapid growth, Carbohydrates – acts as energy booster, Vitamin, Calcium and Phosphorus for strong teeth and bones, Iron and Zinc for rich blood formation. Such type of weaning food is very good for nurturing the health and growth of the baby.

These days, the supermarkets are filled with processed foods. Before buying anything off the shelf, do check the labels – if there are more than 6 ingredients, most likely it is a processed food. Please avoid them because you should thrive towards eating wholesome food that has no other ingredients but themselves. It is very difficult to change food habits once our taste buds develop a fondness for a particular food item. So the trick is to develop taste for healthy food. Consuming sugar in the form of ice cream or sweets is alright once in a while but not always. Instead you can replace them with natural sugar available in dates, grapes, homemade honey, maple syrup, etc.

3 Irresistible Dark Chocolate Recipes That Will Make Your Mouth Water

Most of the commercial chocolate bars we buy and eat are full of unhealthy sugar. But eating dark chocolate, made from cocoa seed, actually has plenty of health benefits. Said to be one of the best sources of antioxidant, a 100 gram bar of the dark variety contains a good amount of fiber, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and many other nutrients. It is also said to help improve blood circulation and lower blood pressure. But like any other sweet treat, remember to consume it in moderation!

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Granola

What you need:

  • 2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter-flavored spread
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Non-stick cooking spray

In a saucepan over low heat, mix together brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, spread and vanilla extract. Stir until ingredients are mixed well. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine oats, cinnamon and salt then pour peanut butter mixture into the bowl. Add dark chocolate, almonds and cranberries. Spoon mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cook in a pre-heated oven (175 degrees Celsius) for 15 to 18 minutes, or until browned.

Quick Choco-Mint Fudge

What you need:

  • 3 cups semi-sweet dark chocolate chips
  • 1 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure mint extract
  • 1 pinch salt

In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together dark chocolate, condensed milk, butter, mint extract and salt. Stir until ingredients are well-combined. Melt in the microwave over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until chips are melted. Remove from heat and mix in peppermint candies. Pour mixture in an 8×8 silicone baking dish, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until set.

Easy Dark Chocolate Mousse

What you need:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper
  • 1 tiny pinch salt

In a small heat-proof bowl, mix together dark chocolate, 2 tablespoons water, butter, chipotle pepper and salt. Fill a saucepan with water and simmer over low heat. Set bowl over pan of simmering water until butter melts, stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool. In a separate heat-proof bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 2 tablespoons water and sugar. Set over the pan of simmering water and stir until mixture is hot, about 3 minutes. Pour egg mixture into the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature. Gently fold in whipping cream into the mixture. Divide mixture into ramekins. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Try these drool-worthy dark chocolate recipes and you’ll love sweet treats even more!

Adrian T. Cheng is a food blogger who promotes healthy eating. He has written numerous posts and articles about natural herbs and spices, shared countless of delicious and healthy recipes and reviewed kitchen accessories that are affordable yet of quality. You can view Adrian’s posts about going green and other kitchen tools he recommends on his page.

The History of the Ballotin – The Classic Belgian Chocolate Gift Box

This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the ballotin. I am sure that every Belgian chocolate connoisseur has opened one – or many – of these ballotin boxes in their life. In fact, since its creation in 1915, the ballotin has always been around, carefully filled with chocolates in a countless number of shops or voraciously enjoyed by thousands of chocolate lovers around the globe. This box is elegant yet understated in its appearance, and it showcases the content while successfully protecting it.

The beginning of the last century saw two major inventions that changed the way people enjoyed chocolate:

In 1912 Jean Neuhaus developed a technique that made possible, for the first time, to create chocolates with a soft filling. This first invention was called the “praline”. These chocolates continued to be sold wrapped in paper, a traditional method that however had two major drawbacks: it was not able to display the chocolates in an elegant way and even worse it offered very little protection, often damaging or compromising the look of the pralines.

As chocolates were becoming more and more sophisticated, with attractive designs and complex fillings, the Belgian chocolate kitchens were crying out for a box designed specifically to suit their needs. A gift box that would be beautiful and elegant but also practical in their ability to protect the chocolates from being damaged on the way home.

In 1915 their cries were answered, Louise Agostini, wife of Jean Neuhaus Jr, designed the first ballotin (from ballot, French term for “small package of goods”), a box in which the chocolates could be packed safely. It was also an aesthetically marvellous design, simple but elegant, easy to fill and close with its flaps elegantly secured with a ribbon. To the delight of the other chocolate houses of the time, Jean Neuhaus decided not to patent this invention, and that is why nowadays all the top tier Belgian chocolate manufacturers sell their chocolates in this timeless gift box.

One hundred years on, the Master Belgian chocolatiers use the ballotin more than ever, in fact this box can be considered the signature of the finest Belgian chocolatiers. While there have been a few minor changes in design over the years to allow for more efficient manufacturing processes the simple aesthetic beauty of this gift box remains the same making it one of the most recognizable items in the world of luxury foods.

A Brief History Of Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most popular and loved sweet treats around the world. It’s loved in all sorts of shapes and sizes – bars, candy, spreadable chocolate, chocolate syrup… you name it. Everything that is created from chocolate leaves most of us wanting more. But, how did this incredible dessert come to life? Who was the genius that decided to create it? Chocolate had an incredible journey throughout our history, ending up in modern times where it’s still favoured among sweet-toothed aficionados looking for candied satisfaction.

Cacao seeds grow naturally on trees, so it wasn’t long until the ancient populations in Mesoamerica, where it all began, discovered the taste and properties of cacao. Chocolate started being consumed as a liquid, a drink made out of cacao seeds where spices and even wine was added; giving it a rather bitter taste and not the sweet one we all know and love. It was believed that this beverage had aphrodisiac properties, a story that still persist today but is yet to be proven. In the 16th century, the primordial chocolate reached Europe, where sugar was added to the mixture. The higher classes to consumed it at first, but it soon reached the ‘common’ people, who enjoyed it as well. The word “chocolate” comes from “chocolatl”, which is Classical Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

Between the 17th and 19th century, the craze for chocolate expanded, as the Europeans, more precisely the French, English, and Dutch, created colonies and started planting cacao trees to harvest the much-needed beans. But, it was during the Industrial Revolution that chocolate started to get the shape and taste we’re now familiar with. In 1815, Coenraad van Houten, who was a Dutch chemist, decided to incorporate alkaline salts into the composition of chocolate. This process really diminished its initial bitterness. In 1828, the chemist created a special press that managed to remove approximately half of the butter chocolate contained, helping it reach a quality that was more consistent.

From this point on, it was only one more step to the creation of modern chocolate. In 1847, Joseph Fry took the pressed “Dutch cocoa”, as it was called, and added the melted cacao butter to it, creating a more malleable form of chocolate. And in 1879, Rodolphe Lindt, the creator of the chocolate with the same name, brought the final touch to modern chocolate with his conching machine, which improved the taste and texture of chocolate by mixing chocolate evenly with cocoa butter. Even so, beverages with chocolate were still popular, with milk being added since the 17th century, to improve their taste. But it was in 1875 when milk chocolate appeared, with Daniel Peter mixing chocolate liquor with powdered milk, created by Henri Nestlé.

So, civilization has been fascinated by chocolate since the beginning of times, working hard and using innovation to improve the properties of this amazing dessert. Today, there are so many assortments of chocolates available; we can indulge in any we like!

6 Tips to Buy Real Dark Chocolate

When the Valentine’s Day is around the corner, you want to buy some delicious dark chocolate for your loved ones. At this time of the year, we suggest that you follow the tips we have given in this guide. This may be your favorite topic. Buying dark chocolate is an art. The reason is that the market may have some fake products as well. If you love quality, you should follow the 6 tips given below.

Go for at least 75%

According to experts, you should go for 75% or higher as far as buying dark chocolate goes. The reason is that these packs will offer the highest number of benefits. Another great thing is that these products have the least amount of sugar. Don’t just fall for the “dark chocolate” term. As a matter of fact, companies are not allowed to claim 41% cacao as real dark chocolate. The fact of the matter is that the 59% content is composed of fillers, such as sugar.

Read the Ingredients

Before you buy, make sure you read the description of ingredients on the wrapper. Make sure the number of ingredients is between 3 and 5. On top of the list should be cocoa or cacao bean. The other ingredients should be natural or organic sugar and then cocoa butter and vanilla bean.

Beans

High quality products will show the location where the beans were obtained from. This may include the region, country and the plantation. You may also want to consider the single origin bars. By single origin, we mean that the beans were obtained from one batch of beans of a certain plantation.

Date

Make sure the date of the making of the chocolate is displayed on the package. As a matter of fact, this is one of the best indicators that the product is of high quality and that you can buy it safely. Also, if you want to be on the safe side, don’t buy a package that doesn’t have the manufacturing date mentioned on it.

Touch/Appearance

Once you have removed the chocolate from the package, you should examine it from different angles. Make sure its color is solid. Next, you should snap it. If the chocolate snaps firmly, rest assured that you have a real product. This is one of the best indicators that the product is made from quality beans.

Buy From a reputable brand

If you want to rest assured that the chocolate you buy is high quality, you should never buy from an unknown brand. In fact, you should always buy from a reputable brand. Big companies take very strict measures in order to ensure quality of their products.

Long story short, you should never buy a product that contains poor ingredients, such as milk solids, lactose, cocoa powder, whey powder, butter fat, malt, and vanillin, just to name a few. As far as soy lecithin goes, you should opt for non-GMO soy only. Lastly, you should never go for a product that has sugar on top of the ingredients list.

Do you need tips to buy best dark chocolate? If so, we suggest that you take a look at a great collection of real dark chocolate at Santabarbarachocolate.

5 Steps On How To Make A Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake is one of the most common types of cakes that you can easily make at home. The cool thing is that you can make the cake for almost any type of event.

Things that you need

For you to prepare the cake, you need the right ingredients. The ones that you need include:

· 2 saucepans

· 3 egg yolks

· Heat-safe bowl

· 2/3 cup butter, room temperature

· 2/3 cup boiling water

· Spatula

· 1 tsp. baking soda

· 1 tsp. baking powder

· 2 tsp. vanilla extract

· Whisk

· 2/3 cup sour cream

· Two cake pans

· Spatula

· 2 2/3 cup butter, room temperature

· 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate

· 2/3 cup boiling water

· 2/3 cup butter, room temperature

· 2 2/3 cup sugar

· Standing mixture with paddle attachment

How to make your chocolate cake

Step 1

Preheat an oven to 325 F and then fill a saucepan with water and bring it to boil. After turning off the heat, rest the bowl on the inside rim of the saucepan. You should be cautious when doing it. Ensure that you place the bowl just above the water height. This is to prevent the chocolate from overheating.

You should then boil water using a saucepan on the stove, and whisk the chocolate into it. To prevent the chocolate from seizing, ensure that the chocolate is still warm.

Step 2

Place butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix the two until it becomes fluffy and light. This process not only mixes the two, it also aids in aeration which is vital for the creation of a light and tender cake. To ensure that ingredients are incorporated evenly you should occasionally scrape down the bowl sides.

Step 3

Gradually add egg yolks and vanilla into the mixture and beat them until they are fully incorporated. The purpose of adding eggs is to prevent the batter from separating. Eggs at room temperature have been shown to result to a more cohesive batter. When you get a good mixture, beat in the melted chocolate.

Step 4

Sift all the dry ingredients. These include: salt, powder, flour, and soda. You should then add them together with sour cream into the batter. The best way of doing it is adding 1/3 of the dry ingredients and ½ of sour cream. You should repeat this process until all the sour cream and dry ingredients are evenly incorporated. The reason why you should gradually add the ingredients is to allow the batter to accept large liquid quantities that create a moister and delicious cake.

Step 5

Beat the battery until it gets smooth. When doing it be cautious that you don’t over-mix. You should then prepare the baking pans using pan spray and divide the batter evenly. Finally, bake your cake until it springs back to the touch.

Conclusion

This is a guide on how to make a chocolate cake. To complete the look of the cake, use a variety of frostings and fillings. You have a wide range of fillings to choose from. It’s up to you to choose the one that you like.

Cocoa Temptation: Chocolates

Chocolate is a delicious food product made from Theobroma cacao seeds, both roasted and grounded. Everyone in the world is aware of the tempting taste of chocolates; they can be made in both liquid and solid forms or can be used for flavoring different dishes. Chocolates initially were taken in the form of drinks by emperors.

Lesser known facts about chocolates:

There are many things which we don’t know about Chocolates and are definitely willing to know. Here are some lesser known facts about it:

1. The word “chocolate” originally comes from the Aztec word that is “xocoatl”, which refers to a bitter and spicy drink that Aztecs used to make from cacao beans.

2. White chocolates are actually not chocolates, it’s because they don’t contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, but as they generally consist cocoa butter, they are said to be a chocolate product.

3. Cacao was once used as a currency. As the Aztecs loved cocoa beans and valued them so high, they begin to use it as a currency during the height of their civilization.

4. The first chocolate bar was made in England in 1872 by Cadbury.

5. Chocolates are the only thing having a special melting point of 93° F that is just below the human body temperature. That’s why chocolates melt so easily on our tongue.

6. They are immediate mental stabilizers, and increase your focus, mental strength and memory.

7. It takes up to 400 cocoa beans to make a pound of chocolate.

8. The world’s largest chocolate bar weighs approx. 5,792 kg.

9. Chocolates are very dangerous for cats and dogs and can even lead them to death.

10. Chocolates are effective remedies when it comes to cough.

Advantages and disadvantages of chocolates:

Dark chocolates are full of nutrients, they are made from seeds of cocoa tree that are the best source of antioxidants on plants, and they also reduce the risk of heart diseases in the body. There are many more advantages of consuming dark chocolates such as they protect skin from sun, works as high antioxidants, Improves Brain functions, raises HDL and protects LDL against Oxidants, improves blood flow, reduce fat from the body, decreases signs of ageing etc. Chocolates are generally used to show a symbol of affection to our loved ones, by gifting them, as eating chocolates can give the same feeling as being in love gives.

Apart from being nutritious chocolates have a negative side also as they contain high quantity of sugar, saturated fat and are low in mineral vitamins. Excess of chocolate consumption can result in tooth decay, high level of carbohydrate and calories in body, etc. Dark chocolates also contain lots of sugar but that is generally half of what milk chocolates contains.

Humans have always been fond of chocolates from the time it got invented; they have always done experiments with its taste and used it as a flavoring ingredient. Though chocolates may carry tempting taste and can help you lowering the risk of diabetes and inflammations but also contains high amount of calories, fat and sugar, so one should consume it only in moderation. You can bulk buy chocolate from many online stores.

How Good Is Chocolate As a Health Benefit?

We hear it frequently that chocolate is a good anti-oxidant and has, therefore, health benefits. So what is an anti-oxidant agent and how does it work. It’s not difficult to explain and there is research available for those who need more information. Generally, however, one should look upon it as something that counter-acts disease. It does this by ‘hooking’ itself onto a free radicle, which is a disease laden molecule looking for a cell to engage.

Anyone with a background in chemistry, even at school level, will understand how molecules of matter join with others to form elements. They comprise a nucleus with an electric charge that has room for opposite charges to attach to it. In other words they have either a positive or a negative charge.

Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons. As they enter the body they search for cells that can be robbed of electrons. This causes damage which, over time, can manifest as conditions ranging from aging of the body to cancer.

When anti-oxidant levels are low, such as through poor nutrition, the immune system is overloaded and toxins take effect more readily. These unpaired electron microbes are extremely dangerous. They are looking for what other cells have that they require and can easily capture. That’s why food that are known anti-oxidants are important.

They catch the free radicals by offering to pair them and thus cancel out cell damage. The more we have the greater the protection. Vitamins are great anti-oxidants and the effect of vitamin C’s action against viruses is well-known.

So what about things like chocolate? Cocoa from which it is manufactured contains powerful anti-oxidants called polyphenols. It is the same found in grapes, berries, and wine. It also contains catechins and epicatechins that are found in green tea. These elements are found in the beans, however, not necessarily the finished product.

Chocolate goes through a refining process and is manufactured using things like sugar, protein, and fat. Any heat applied to an anti-oxidant has the power to kill it and the way this finished product is produced is through heat.

The enjoyment of chocolate by most speaks of its popularity. As to its health benefits one must not fails to take into account the calories and other things it represents. Some manufacturers also add MSG (monosodium glutamate) to which many are allergic, as I am. Consequently migraine headaches may occur after consumption of certain brands.

Norma Holt has knowledge that enables her to understand many issues. Social, political, and behavioural problems are usually on her list for discussion and the depth of her research will amaze.