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Chocolate really is good for you

Written by Daisy Dumas. Published in Sydney Morning Herald on 18 July 2012.

It’s a vice many of us can’t step away from – give up smoking, drinking or swearing and chocolate seems to be the go-to reward mechanism.

So it’s a welcome finding that bars of chocolate may soon come stamped with health claims.

Dark chocolate has been given another accolade in the health stakes – this time receiving the backing of the European Food Safety Authority for its blood circulation-boosting capacities.

Thanks to cocoa flavanols, found in chocolate and cocoa, the sweet-toothed treat has been linked to low blood pressure, heart health and even brain function. Cocoa flavonols stimulate nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels.

On the back of the support, Barry Callebaut AG, one of the world’s largest cocoa buyers, is now seeking European Commission approval to use the impressive health claim on its packaging.

The move comes after the Swiss food giant, which sells to Kraft and Nestlé, conducted a study involving 20 clinical trials over the past seven years. The company has developed a method for preserving up to 80 per cent of the flavonols which are commonly destroyed in mainstream cocoa processing.

It is also, tellingly, linked to rising cocoa costs and concomitant dwindling branded food sales, according to the Wall Street Journal. Health benefits are, of course, worth their weight in gold – and while the label would only apply to chocolates sold within Europe, it may have implications for products further afield, including Australia and the US.

A known anti-oxidant wonder food, dark chocolate already leads the pack when it comes to ‘Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Units’ (ORACS).

According to the USDA, it contains 13,120 ORACs per 100 grams, where famous antioxidants, blueberries, have a mere 2,400.

But, before chocolate is promoted to one of your health supplements, beware – not all chocolates are created equal and cocoa, sugar, saturated and unsaturated fats and caffeine contents vary. The higher the cocoa content, it goes without saying, the better.

The EC has until early 2013 to make its decision.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/chocolate-really-is-good-for-you-20120718-229i7.html#ixzz22NY3QsBB

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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in News Articles

 

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So this Easter…

I just wanted to spend a few minutes to relay to you about our Easter purchases and hopefully influence any last-minute purchases today or for coming years.

Instead of buying Joes grandmother and mother the usual box of Cadbury Roses, we opted to purchase them a jar of Chocolate coated Macadamia’s from the Byron Bay Chocolate Company. The nuts are locally grown and the end product is also locally manufactured. Many towns have small hand-made chocolate businesses utilising locally sourced produce. Instead of supporting large commercial chocolate companies, opt to support small local business instead.

For quite some time now, Darrell Lea Chocolates have promoted their Save the Bilby agenda. According to the website, bilbies are a desert dwelling marsupial with large ears, light grey and tan fur and a very distinctive black and white tail. Of the six bandicoot species that once lived in the arid / semi arid areas of Australia, bilbies are the only species remaining. It has national conservation status and is currently listed as vulnerable. Purchasing this particular bilby shaped easter egg helps conservation efforts for one of Australias unique and threatened species. A gorgeous video of bilbies has just been published by the Guardian Newspaper UK.  If you must make purchases from larger chains, opt for one that has some sort of positive impact, such as the chocolate bilby.

As my regular readers are no doubt aware by now, I am fairly anti commercialism, because of its effects on the environment. The impact of Easter eggs for the environment is fairly huge. Most chocolates contain palm oil &/or sugar, and as such, lend to the clearing of wilderness for extensive palm plantations. Check your labels, and try to avoid contributing to this ecological disaster by avoiding products that are utilising palm products. Nestle, for example, are right in the middle of the palm sugar controversy. Consumer digression is advised. Remember: You wield a mighty weapon each time you visit the supermarket.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: StSaling)

Another alterative is to skip the consumer based exploitations all together! Just this morning I stumbled across this wonderful post by Breanna Peterson Photography. Ry, the boy in question is allergic to eggs. His clever mum ordered in some ceramic eggs which they then died. He looks to have had an awesome time decorating the eggs. Hand blown eggs and egg decorating tips has been around for eons, and such traditions are being lost. I remember using autumn leaves, natural dyes, stocks and other fun stuff to make some awesome designs of hard-boiled eggs which we then took to school in our lunch boxes.  Why not do something special with your kids, and do some all natural dye eggs with leaf prints or flower prints. You just never know… you might also enjoy yourself!

 

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Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday, and I will be 41. To celebrate, the day was spent in happy occupation with my family and friends. I awoke early to go for a walk with Joe. Its the first time we have had opportunity to go for our daily walk in weeks; weather, morning sickness and then baby loss all conspired to ensure we turned into couch potatoes over the summer. Nevertheless, today was a wonderfully sunny day, and the walk was enjoyable. When we returned home, I had a very yummy breaky treat waiting for me. Brittany had made us a short stack of pancakes with mango, ice cream and maple syrup! I am fairly sure, though, that my diabetes educator and dietician would not approve, but oh my!! They were good!

Joe has been a busy beaver, squirrelling money away and has totally spoiled and surprised me with a new computer chair. Oh wow – such luxury!! Leather, gas lift, padded, roller luxury! So much comfort. I feel very lucky. Brittany also was exceptionally generous with her birthday love, and bought me the most gorgeous dinner set ever. The eight place dinner set consists of an entrée plate, dinner plate, and deep bowls. It also has two serving platters that are just so sexy. I am SO very happy with this dinner set and cant wait to bring you lots of photos of divine food on it! 🙂

I was lucky to catch up with a friend for lunch at a the Henry Rous Tavern here in town. I had a chicken burger with mint garlic yoghurt sauce that was sublime. Really an awesome selection of flavours that although simple, really worked wonderfully. I may have had an apple cider or two with lunch which just went down so well on such a hot day. Later, the heat got the best of us and we ventured to a local beach for some fun in the surf. I thorougly enjoyed spending quality time with Joe as the huge waves pushed and pulled us every which direction.

I share my birthday with quite a few friends, and as is our custom the last several years, we go out for dinner at a mutually convenient time to celebrate Matt’s & my birthday (6th) and Joe’s birthday (13th). This year that day falls on a Wednesday, and we are going to a local Mexican restaurant. The choice of nights left me kinda free to enjoy something quick, easy and yummy at home tonight. Our shopping day isn’t for another day or two, and our fresh vegetable delivery isn’t until tomorrow so the cupboard is a little bare. Traditionally, we would have a vegetarian dish on Monday’s, but as there was some things defrosted in the fridge that didn’t get cooked last night, we decided this week meat free will be Tuesday. That left us to enjoy an old fashion fry up (another common dish that we rarely have due to my diabetes). Tonight’s dinner featured pork sausages with apple, sage and rosemary, onions, tomatoes and eggs. Such simple things that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Dessert was a little bit of cheating, as it was something I made last week for the murder mystery party (our actual birthday party) but have decided not to serve now, as they are a little fiddly to eat. Even given the difficulties in eating them and the messy fingers, they are delicious! The recipe for these frozen choc covered bananas is below.

Ingredients

½ cup cooking chocolate

½ cup smooth peanut butter

3 bananas cut into bite size pieces

desecrated coconut

toothpicks

Methods

  1. Create a double boiler by placing a metal bowl over a pot filled with boiling water. Keep the water on a slow simmer and melt the chocolate and peanut butter in the bowl until melted and running.
  2. Using a skewer to secure the banana, drizzle the chocolate mixture evenly over the banana pieces. Place it upright on a baking paper covered tray. Once all bananas are coated, you can sprinkle with coconut, insert a toothpick for easy handling later and freeze.

Observations

  • Be very very careful not to over heat the chocolate mixture, as the burnt taste will ruin your dish.
  • Try not to dip your banana directly into the chocolate, as it will make the banana difficult to handle.
  • As an experiment, I mixed the coconut into the chocolate for one batch. The one on the left is of that batch, while the one on the right is of the standard directions above. I think I actually like the coconut in the chocolate better!
  • It makes it a LOT easier if you use slightly under ripe bananas. Once they get ripe, they are softer, and much more difficult to work with.
 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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