Sweets For Your Sweet

A brief history lesson before we delve into the sweet reason of Chocolate on Valentine’s day…

St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.  The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
– Aristotle

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
– Lao Tzu

Our infatuation with chocolate first began 2,000 years ago when it was discovered in Latin America. The Maya and Aztec elites infused cocoa beans with water to form frothy chocolate drinks – the first frappuccinos, if you will – for special occasions and as sacrifices to the gods. The Aztec ruler Montezuma believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac and routinely drank it before entering his harem, thus increasing chocolate’s popularity and its association with love and romance. As it turns out, he was ahead of his time. Modern-day scientists have linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and even pleasure.

“Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

 Christopher Columbus saw how the Aztecs revered cocoa when he entered the picture in the sixteenth century and immediately took the luxury product back to Queen Isabella of Spain. Chocoholics sprouted up all over Europe, sharing the legend of their new obsession’s alleged mythical powers. At one point in time, chocolate was believed to be so potent that nuns were forbidden from eating it and French doctors used it to treat “broken hearts.”

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
– Zora Neale Hurston”

So whatever your reason is for celebrating Valentine’s Day make sure that your heart is filled with love and your hands are filled with chocolate.

This information was collected from the History Channel and from other sources.

 

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Chocolate Salads

The other day I made the comment “The best way to eat a salad is to throw it away and get a chocolate bar out of the cupboard.”

Being that it is January people have made their New Year’s resolutions, a lot of them involved not eating sweets, exercising more and doing away with certain vices. It seems to be increasingly hard to keep these resolutions; temptations seem to be lurking around every corner. This is an attempt at finding a way to help indulge the temptations that are faced without crossing the line of over doing it. Hopefully these next recipes will bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when tried.

Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Dressing:

choc salad

You will need:

1 bag spinach leaves
5 large strawberries cut in half
1/8 cup of feta cheese crumbled
½ of a purple onion
Handful of slivered almonds (sunflower seeds or your nut of choice)
3 oz. of dark chocolate
1 tbsp. of honey
1/8 tsp. of black ground pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup of olive oil
4 tbsp. of water

Place the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, add the chocolate continue to stir the oil and chocolate until it is melted then add the water, pepper and honey, stir until well blended. Remove from heat and let cool 8 minutes. After the 8 minutes add the balsamic vinegar, stir until well blended.

chocolate dressing

Thinly slice the purple onions and place in a skillet that has been drizzled with olive oil. Cook the onions until they become soft, limp and begin to lose their color. Remove the onions from the skillet and place in an airtight container. Take a portion of the dressing and coat the onions on all sides. Place the onions in the refrigerator to cool. Also place the chocolate dressing in a container to cool in the frig for about 30 minutes.

spinach berries feta

Remove half of the onions from the dressing and place on a salad plate. Add the spinach leaves (make sure they are washed and all water has been spun off) Add the feta cheese, strawberries and almonds. Drizzle the chocolate dressing in a zigzag motion over your salad and enjoy.

This next recipe I ran across on ABC Health and Well Being it looks pretty tasty so I am passing it along…

Orange Mint and Chocolate Salad:

orange salad
• 3 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 sprigs of mint, washed and leaves picked off the stem
• zest and juice of 1 lime
• 2 tsp of honey
• 20g dark chocolate, grated

Place the orange slices onto a large plate and sprinkle the mint and lime zest over them. In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey and lime juice. Pour this over the oranges and then top with the grated chocolate. Sweet, Simple, Enjoy!