Chocolate & Weight loss

Chocolate and weight loss don’t seem like they would go hand and hand, but more and more studies are finding that regularly consuming high quality (not quantity) chocolate can help you reach your desired weight loss goal without depriving yourself. Keep in mind not all chocolate is created equal. Cranberries, Almonds and Chocolate, Oh My

“Real chocolate is like no other substance on earth. For years scientists have tried to duplicate its characteristics without success. They have come very close,  but the very best is still a pale comparison. The main difference between real chocolate and a ‘chocolate flavored’ substance is its most basic ingredient, cocoa butter. When you pick up a candy bar in the grocery store, look at the ingredients label on the package. If it does not contain cocoa butter, it is not real chocolate. Chocolate is more expensive than its artificial counterpart and is well worth the extra coins to treat your mouth and body to a taste of heaven.

Chocolate has been found to lower blood pressure and it is a potent antioxidant according to the Aug. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. Not only does it taste good but it is good for you ~ Cocoa butter melts completely at 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Body temperature is 98.7. Coincidence? I don’t think so.” – RCI

Research shows that chocolate’s health benefits  not only include reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol, but it also contains antioxidants like epicatechin, which other research has shown appears to boost the energy-producing elements of the body’s cells.

Chocolate also release endorphins in your brain. A secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress. Endorphins have been suggested as modulators of the so-called “runner’s high” that athletes achieve with prolonged exercise.

“For the study, published in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers examined more than 1,000 healthy men and women who were free of heart disease, diabetes and cholesterol problems. They were all enrolled in another study that measured the effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, but for this study researchers assigned them questionnaires that gauged how often participants chowed down on chocolate.

The researchers found that the participants (who were an average age of 57) ate chocolate for an average of twice of week and exercised roughly 3.5 times per week… But those who more frequently ate chocolate retained a lower BMI (a ratio of height and weight that’s used to measure obesity).”  –CBS News

“The findings suggest that the health benefits of chocolate may be linked to how many times in a given week chocolate is eaten rather than the total amount consumed in that week,” says the study’s lead researcher, Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “Eating a small amount of chocolate each of five days during a week was linked to a lower BMI, even if the person ate more calories overall and didn’t exercise more than other participants.”

These studies bring good news that chocolate and weight loss can happily coincide.

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Cocoa Mill’s Hot Chocolate

Every time it snows my children have come to expect that they will be served hot chocolate after they return indoors from their winter excursions. Not just any hot chocolate mind you, but homemade concoction using their Father’s chocolate; Cocoa Mill’s milk and dark chocolate.  I can guarantee when I place the warm cups of cocoa in front of them they will ask: “Did you make this with Daddy’s chocolate?” the answer is always “Yes.” and there are smiles all around.

Being that it is 3 degrees outside today (but no snow) I thought it would be fitting to share this homemade hot chocolate recipe.

 

What you will need:

4 cups of whole milk

3 oz Cocoa Mill Dark Chocolate

3 oz Cocoa Mill Milk Chocolate

3 Tbsp granulated sugar*

3 tsp. vanilla

6 Tbsp powdered sugar*

1 pint heavy whipping cream

Chocolate shavings

You will also need a mixer capable of whipping cream.

Process:

1. Warm milk in a sauce pan over low heat, (be careful not to boil the milk). When steam begins rising from the milk add your 2 types of chocolate, 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 3 Tbsp of granulated sugar. Continue cooking over low heat until chocolate is melted and well blended with the milk.

 

2. Place whip cream in a bowl and add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar whip with a beater until the cream forms stiff peaks when the beater is removed. Cover and place in refrigerator.

whipcream

There are so many ways you could adjust this recipe, add Bailey’s Irish Creme for an adult beverage, add 3 Tbsp of coffee (or more) for a mocha-chino, add some caramel syrup on top of the whip cream just for an added yum. Let us know what variations you come up with!

*You can also substitute  truvia for sugars or another sweetener to decrease caloric/carbohydrate in take.

You can save the additional hot chocolate mixture for up to a week in the refrigerator and reheat as needed.

Holiday Cranberry Orange Bread

Cranberry-Orange--Bread

This Cranberry Orange Bread has been a gift to loved ones at the Christmas for as long as I can remember. I bake it in small loaf pans and deliver before Christmas to loved ones  along with other delectable treats. This bread gets some of the best reviews so I thought I would share it with you!

Ingredients:

flour eggs butter

2 cups of white sugar

1 3/4 cups of orange juice

2 eggs

1/2 cup of melted butter

5 cups of flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. of baking powder

3-4 cups of cranberries

6 oz chopped white chocolate

1 orange sliced into quarters

Directions:

cran orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place cranberries and orange in a food processor and chop until small chunks are reached.

In a bowl sift the dry ingredients, then add the cranberries and orange mix and blend well. Add the wet ingredients and bend again. Add the white chocolate chunks and mix one last time. Let the batter stand for 20 minutes before pouring into pans.

white chocolate chunks

Pour into 2 greased loaf pans or several small loaf pans and Bake for 35 -40 (larger pans) or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely then drizzle or pour glaze over top of the bread.

cran orange bread

Glaze:

Place 1 cup of confectioners sugar, 2 Tbsp. orange juice and add milk until thin and soft liquid consistency is reached. Leave little white specs of sugar in the glaze to look like snow flakes when poured onto bread.

I hope you will find this is an easy way to show people you care at the Holidays.

This bread can be made ahead of time and frozen. Do not glaze until you are ready to give them away or enjoy yourself 🙂

Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

For some reason I have been baking up a storm lately, from homemade sweet rolls, to chocolate caramel brownies, I just can’t stop.

Here is a neat little recipe I wanted to pass along:

Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies:

cran choco

Ingredients:

  • 1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 2  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • !/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3  cups Oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
  • *6 – 8 oz of Cocoa Mill’s Dark Chocolate Cranberry Bark

Preparation

Heat oven to 350°F.

Chop chocolate cranberry bark up into nice bite size chunks, set aside (to snack on while you assemble the rest of the cookie).

 

In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

Add combined flour, baking soda, spices and salt; mix well.

Add oats and chocolate cranberry bark; mix well.

choc oatmeal dough2

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheets.

choc oastmeal pan

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered or in freezer safe bags for later consumption 😉

Enjoy!

cran oat

* Bark may be substituted for 6 – 8 oz chopped bittersweet dark chocolate and 1 cup cranberries.

 

Thoughts for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

The ancient Greeks held an annual spring festival dedicated to honor the maternal goddesses Rhea. The wife of Cronus, Rhea was the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.

Ancient Romans also celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to the mother goddess Cybele. Ceremonies in honor of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration was held on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele,  this festival lasted for about three days.

Mothering Sunday, from the UK is the most recent celebration, dating back to the 1600’s. This Christian festival was once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, it fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent, it was a time when people would return to their “mother church”. (Much like homecoming that is celebrated in churches today when people return to their home church for a special service and a meal afterwards).

Mothering Sunday eventually took a more secular route when children would present their mothers with gifts and flowers to show their appreciation. Mothering Sunday eventually faded out but regained new life when it merged into the American born Mother’s Day in the 30’s and 40’s. In World War II servicemen would purchase trinkets to send back home to their Mother’s or wives.

In 1872 Julia Ward Howe (writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) suggested in her “Mother’s Peace Day Proclamation” that Mother’s Peace Day be celebrated on the second Sunday in June. This was to be a day that Mother’s would stand united against war and be dedicated to peace.

Around the same time  Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia began holding meetings taught local women how to properly care for their children. These meetings became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” where mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

The efforts of Ann Reeves Jarvis’ daughter Anna Jarvis gave birth to the official Mother’s Day holiday in the 1900s. After her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother’s good faith efforts as well as all good Mother’s sacrifices. She used financial backing from a Philadelphia store owner named John Wanamaker and proceeded to organize the first Mother’s Day celebration at a church in Grafton, West Virginia. Seeing the success of the first Mother’s Day celebration she set out on a long journey to make the celebration a National Holiday.

By 1912 many States and churches celebrated Mother’s Day. Jarvis finally succeeded in her quest when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day  in 1914.

Anna Jarvis had envisioned Mother’s Day as a personal day for families where they could gather together and spend time making precious memories. It wasn’t long after Mother’s Day became a national holiday before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity. This infuriated Anna Jarvis, she spent all her personal assets fighting to have Mother’s Day removed as a National Holiday because it had turned into something entirely different from her vision. By the time of her death in 1948, Anna Jarvis was penniless and confined to a sanitarium.


From Goddesses to penniless, motherless widows, Mother’s day has seen great extremes. Mother’s have fought and struggled throughout the years to make this world a better place for their children to grow up in; they are ever persevering the face of adversity, sacrificing in times of want and above all loving in all circumstances.

Celebrate the Mother you love and those who have loved you this Mother’s Day.

Beautiful Mother's Day Box of Assorted Chocolates

Information for this article gathered from History.com and mothersdaycelebration.com and cocoamill.com

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.

 

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!