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Confessions of a Chocolate Fanatic

By Alana Sugar, February 10, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
ChocolateThis past Christmas, I decided to thrill my friends with the gift of "a little bit of heaven." I wanted to savor the Christmas spirit, especially since last year was so hurried. And I wanted my friends to have something special to savor as well. So, I mixed a cup of chopped, roasted almonds and pecans with a half cup of dried cherries and blueberries. Then, I melted 3 ounces of dark chocolate pieces over a very, very low flame. I added the nuts and fruit along with another 3 ounces of the same chocolate, broken into pieces. I stirred it until it was all melted and clumpy together, then I scooped out tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and I stuck it in my refrigerator. I had made chocolate candy! Although I felt for a split second like I had mastered the art of fine chocolate, I soon came to my senses and just decided to get more creative with that simple little recipe. So, I continued to experiment, and each time I made it, I found another delicious way to experience "chocolate" - different nuts, adding spices, coconut, and even some small pieces of candied ginger and unsweetened cocoa nibs (roasted pieces of cocoa beans). For Valentine's Day, I plan to continue my chocolate experience. I am not eating a lot of flour containing foods these days, so I am excited to try our glazed, flourless chocolate cake. It gets so many luscious comments. With the focus of Valentine's Day on the heart, it's fun to know that a piece of good quality chocolate is actually heart healthy. ("Good quality" being the operative words there!) Chocolate contains stearic acid, a saturated fat that does not raise total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. It also contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is the same kind of fat you find in olive oil. This can help raise HDL cholesterol. Experts agree that when it comes to choosing chocolate, the darker the better. Less sugar and more antioxidants! This is good news for diabetics and any of us cutting back on sugar and watching our weight. I recommend dark chocolate that contains over 60% cocoa, either plain, or in all of its many varieties. And a little bit goes a long way. Hmmm...let me repeat that. A little bit goes a long way. I teach my clients and students the value of returning to a diet based on whole and real food. For people used to eating packaged and processed food, this is a strange concept. Universally, though, everyone wants food to provide pleasure as well as nourishment. I believe there is always a place in a healthy diet for a little something sweet. A small chunk of fine dark chocolate, savored slowly is ideal. It satisfies the desire for something sweet and it has its own unique way to soothe the soul. So, go ahead and enjoy chocolate in moderation. At the end of a meal, slowly melt a square of your favorite dark chocolate in your mouth. For variety, add a small sliver of your favorite cheese or a simple cup of hot mint tea. You can also stir your favorite dark chocolate into a glass of hot milk, dairy or non-dairy. Add some vanilla. And for a warming winter treat, grate a little fresh ginger root into a mug and pour steaming hot chocolate over it. ChocolateA long time ago, I remember hearing that no problem is so big or so great that it can't be run away from. I would laugh at this and wonder "how the heck can you run away?" It wasn't until I had my first taste of fine, dark, salty-sweet chocolate with roasted hazelnuts, that I understood. My little chocolate journey didn't make my problems go away, but it sure made them easier to face! Do you share my passion for good chocolate? Let me know your story.
Category: Food & Recipes




Jen S says ...
i love chocolate. milk chocolate and white chocolate the most. dark chocolate.. not so much, it doesn't have that milky sweet goodness i've always associated chocolate with. but lindt's dark chocolate tastes like milk chocolate, their milk chocolate tastes like white chocolate and their white chocolate is another level of heaven. try it.
02/10/2009 5:11:48 PM CST
Jacob says ...
Your chocolate idea is complex in its macro. Although, you may never master the art of chocolate arts, you may think about starting a business. Can I ask you the costs of doing the basic chocolate pieces? I would like to do this too; however, I fear that the prices may be too high for me, Mr. Amature. Let me know. Have a blessed day. Oh, try rose and lavender. God bless, Chocolate Lover :0
02/10/2009 6:57:44 PM CST
sugara says ...
@Jacob: Great suggestion: I will try the rose and lavender!  The cost for the chocolate bars was about $5.00 – for 2 dark chocolate bars. There is no need to use the most expensive bars, but I do like the chocolate that is 72% cocoa.  Right now they are on sale at my local Whole Foods – 2 bars for $4.00.  The dried fruit was about $5.00 for 8 ounces, and I only used about 1/2 cup, so that would be about $2.50.  And I had some nuts at home, so I just used what I had, but I imagine it would be about another dollar or two.  The total cost for my chocolate experiment was under $10.  I chose to use dried fruit that is a little more costly, but I imagine the recipe would be just as delicious with raisins, currents, or other less costly dried fruit.  I would love to hear how it goes, if you decide to make it.  Enjoy! 
02/11/2009 10:32:39 AM CST
Brynne says ...
I lost 28 pounds eating chocolate every day! I 'went organic' in early 2006. One of my staple foods was organic chocolate bars, such as Green & Black's and Rapunzel. Obviously, it wasn't the chocolate that melted off the fat: It was five months of eating food without pesticides and herbicides and colourings and flavourings. My body fat was not extra calories, it was storage for poisons! Since then, I've moved cross country from R.I. to CA and discovered Uncle Eddie's Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies right on your store shelves!!! I'm an addict. 40% of the time WFM is sold out and I have to settle for some other egg-free dessert. (I'm allergic.) Perhaps I should save up $90 and buy a case!
02/12/2009 12:42:25 AM CST
Rhoda says ...
I love the 364 dark chocolate the best. I also love Paul Newman's dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Just before Christmas 2007, I had a stomach ache for 3 days. Mary kept telling me to go to the emergency room and I kept saying, "It's a belly ache; it will go away." The 4th day, she came home from Whole Foods and I got out of bed to help her put the groceries up. We got to the peanut butter cups and she offered to open a package for me. I told her I didn't want any and she took me right to the emergency room! That's how much I like chocolate! I ended up being admitted for 4 days with diverticulitis. Moral? Don't ignore it if you suddenly don't want chocolate.
02/12/2009 10:24:24 PM CST
Living A Whole Life says ...
It's always encouraging that you can eat a "whole foods" diet and still include chocolate! Otherwise I'm not sure life would be worth living! :) Karla
02/14/2009 6:46:57 PM CST
claudia says ...
I am sure chocolate in moderation makes anyone a better person.
02/17/2009 6:20:09 PM CST