100 Foods: Chocolate

While decluttering my bookcase I discovered a hidden gem: Parragon Books’ “100 Best Health Foods.”

This book takes an interesting, in-depth look at 100 amazing foods and discusses their healthy properties. That said, Parragon does not bother to go into any sort of detail as to which seasons the foods are from or where they are from, which is great… as the publisher is in the UK and I am not.

Also the recipes in this book are not necessarily for the busy on-the-go people or they don’t really make the healthy food the stand out in the completed dish.

My plan… I’m going to tackle these 100 health foods relative to their seasonality in my area (some are never seasonable here… but I will follow their seasons in the location in which they are grown) and find simple easy recipes that showcase the foods. Which could be great for amazing foods like plums… but not so great for anchovies…

Chocolate

I thought that this would be the perfect week for chocolate. There is a ton of it floating around after all.

Chocolate has been cultivated for thousands of years in Mexico, Central America and the Northern parts of South America. While Mesoamerica may be where chocolate originates from, chocolate is now grown in Madagascar, Ghana,  Côte d’Ivoire, São Tomé and Indonesia. If you look at a map you can draw a band around the area where chocolate producers are. You see, the cacao tree requires very specific growing conditions. Originally cacao was processed into a bitter drink called xocolātl, which is also where the Spaniards stole the root sounds for the word chocolate. The Spaniards also added sugar and then the world became just a little bit more heavy-set.

Cocoa solids contain theobromine and phenethylamine which increases serotonin levels in the brain… thus reducing blood pressure. See… my chocolate is for medicinal uses. Theobromine is the alkaloid that is toxic to dogs and cats though. Other than circulatory benefits there is research underway that is related to anti-cancer and brain-stimulation. 

If you are eating chocolate for health reasons you want to pick a chocolate that has a higher cocoa percentage. This higher percentage means you are getting more of the original cacao fruit which contains more health benefits than other fats and sugars. This is going to give you some dark chocolate. It is easy to find dark chocolates that are 70% cocoa or more. Milk chocolate will be around 50% and white only about 35%.

How do you like your chocolate?

~Emme

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