All Entries For chocolate
Chances are good that you'll encounter chocolate at some point today. Chocolate has earned a bad rap as a guilty pleasure, but this superfood has some pretty amazing health benefits. We think you should feel good about eating chocolate--the dark variety, in moderate portions. Here's why:
1. Chocolate contains more than 300 chemicals, including phenyethylamine, an amphetamine-like substance that simulates the feeling of falling in love. Is there any more appropriate day than today to eat a treat that makes you feel like you're in love?
2. If you're feeling a bit glum, chocolate can boost your spirits and dull your pain, thanks to b-endorphin, a naturally occurring chemical similar to opium. Read More ›
"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt…" – Charles M. Schulz.
One of my favorite flavor combinations is peanut butter and chocolate. When enjoyed in moderation--and when consumed in their more natural forms--this treat has measurable nutritional value. Dark chocolate has been connected with preventing high blood pressure and is a good source of antioxidants. Natural peanut butter is also loaded with antioxidants, as well as being a source of plant-based proteins. Since the fusion of these flavors is so rich, I find that I can enjoy it in smaller servings, which can help me stay within my daily calorie goal. Treat yourself to something special today. You're worth it! Read More ›
Chocolate is heavenly, not just as a sweet treat, but also as an ingredient that adds flavor and richness to a variety of cuisines. It also contains a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, sodium, iron, fluorine and vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E. Be choosy about your chocolate, being careful about how the amount of calories, sugar, and fat. When kept it moderation, it's a great option on its own, or match it up with fruits, spices and nuts. For all you chocolate lovers, I’ve gathered SparkRecipes best healthy chocolate-paired recipes. Read More ›
With Easter morning just on the horizon and the accompanying pastel treats showing up on grocery store shelves, we've all had sweets on the brain lately. Candy takes on many cute and cuddly forms during this time of year, whether it's in the shape of a bunny, a chick, or an egg. Personally, we're crazy about those creamy, candy-filled chocolate eggs. Between two of the most popular egg-shaped candies, the Cadbury Crème Egg and the Reese's Peanut Butter Egg, which one will set you back the least amount of calories this Easter (and in the following days of leftover Easter candy)?
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Today is Valentine's Day, one of the most popular days for giving, receiving and eating chocolate.
I firmly believe that chocolate has a place in a healthy diet--it sure does in mine! It can even be a part of savory dishes. I try to be choosy about chocolate: I reach for dark over milk, splurge on from-scratch baked goods, and keep my portions in check.
In addition to sharing an amazingly easy and better-for-you recipe for chocolate mousse, I'm here to answer some of your questions about chocolate. We'll get to the questions later. First, let's eat!
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According to a recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics, children are in need of a milk makeover. Although seventy-seven percent of children and adolescents (ages of 2 and 19) are drinking some milk on a daily basis, nearly one-third of them (32 %) report drinking whole milk. Adolescents reported drinking low-fat milk (either one percent or skim) more often, children between the ages of six and eleven tended to select two-percent milk and those between the ages, of two and five tended to drink whole milk most often. There were race and family income differences in milk selection identified too. Whole milk choices were more prevalent in black and Hispanic homes as well as in those homes with a low poverty income ratio.
With concerns about childhood obesity and after last year's passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, some school districts began removing flavored milks from their cafeterias. Unfortunately, research found that when flavored milk was removed from elementary schools there was a 35 percent drop in milk consumption. Without drinking milk as part of a healthy lunch, it is very difficult for students to meet their daily needs for calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. This is concerning since these nutrients, important for growth and development, were identified to already be limited in children's diets according to the recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As part of the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, changes in nutrition requirements for fluid milk served at school were necessary by the start of this school year. Here's what's new in school cafeteria milk.
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The winner is... TERRY155!!! Editor's Note: The dailySpark hosts weekly "Welcome to the Weekend" giveaways! Each Friday night visit dailySpark.com to enter to win great prizes that make healthy living a little easier--and a lot more fun. Every contest will be open for one week, so return every Friday night to enter a new one and see who won (I choose the winners earlier in the day on Friday)! We hope these contests (and the time you spend on the dailySpark and SparkPeople) get your weekends off to a healthy start!
This week we're giving away a gift box of chocolate from Equal Exchange. (I promise that this is the last "treat" giveaway for awhile. Next week's giveaway is fitness-themed!) Read More ›
UPDATE: And the winners are... NABIT36 ($20), EXAVIANNA ($20), ENUFF81020 ($50), and SORDINA ($100)
Editor's Note: Starting today, the dailySpark will host weekly "Welcome to the Weekend" giveaways! Each Friday night visit dailySpark.com to enter to win great prizes that make healthy living a little easier--and a lot more fun. Every contest will be open for one week, so return every Friday night to enter a new one and see who won (I'll choose the winners around noon on Fridays)! We hope these contests (and the time you spend on the dailySpark and SparkPeople) get your weekends off to a healthy start!
We like chocolate. (Who doesn't?) We especially like it when it's in reasonable portions and delivered to our offices just in time for Valentine's Day! That's why we're sharing Attune chocolate bars with daily probiotics. (Disclaimer: Attune Foods sent us several boxes of their bars to try.) We wanted to spread the love and so did Attune: We're giving away $190 in probiotic chocolate bars to four lucky dailySpark readers! Learn more…
We say: Two thumbs up--especially for the Dark Chocolate and Chocolate Crisp. The bars have less than 100 calories each, which makes them a great portion-controlled treat. That they contain probiotics is a bonus. Though these won't replace low-fat yogurt as our primary source of probiotics (and yogurt is full of calcium and protein), they're a nice treat that could fit into our daily diets.
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According to the Census Bureau, Americans ate 24.3 pounds of candy per capita in 2009, and at least part of that was consumed on and around Valentine's Day. With boxes of chocolate so easily accessible--and so many varieties to try (just a nibble won't hurt!)--it's easy to see how the calories and empty wrappers add up. (That could amount to more than 10 pounds of extra weight a year!)
We're here to keep you and your sweetie in tip-top shape this Valentine's Day. We surveyed members and the SparkPeople team and compiled a list of better-for-you sweet treats, including several that are either calorie-free or will burn calories. I present to you the good, the "bad" and the chocolate-y!
This one from ARIZONAMARY was my favorite: One year we were beyond broke. I made 50 hearts out of construction paper (see below!) & hand wrote a different reason I loved him on each heart. I got a glass jar with hearts on it from the thrift store & filled it with the hearts. Now 10 years into our marriage, he still has it... along with the hearts inside. Read More ›
Looking for some chocolate recipes that will fit into your healthy lifestyle and taste great? We've rounded up some delicious and guilt-free chocolate recipes for you to try.
Chef Meg's Cocoa Meringue Shells
911 Chocolate Emergency Cookies
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My boyfriend, Sam, loves riding his bike. He recently sold his car, and he spends much of the year training for and competing in endurance bike races. The man loves to climb mountains on two wheels, and he commutes about 26 miles a day to work, five days a week. On weekends, he's gone for hours at a time, riding along country roads in Kentucky with his teammates (he and a friend started a local cycling team, BSM).
As anyone who works out regularly knows, the more you exercise, the more you need to eat. All that time on the bike means he eats a ridiculous amount of calories each day. He eats a very clean plant-based diet, as do I.
In early December, he challenged me to create a recipe to cure his Nutella addiction. During race season, Nutella on a fresh baguette is his favorite treat. However, despite how delicious his beloved hazelnut-chocolate spread is, he knew it wasn't exactly healthy.
I've made my own almond butter for years, and I had been experimenting with a chocolate version since last spring. I even gave jars of it as gifts to my family members who have birthdays in March and April.
I was adding all sorts of ingredients: cocoa powder, sugar, coconut oil, maple syrup, even cacao nibs. They were all good, but the recipe just wasn't perfected. I kept changing the recipe and eventually stopped making it regularly. (I, too, developed a Nutella addiction over the summer! An intervention was almost needed.) Then I decided to start over. Two ingredients, 15 minutes start to finish, and better than anything you can buy at a store.
Even better: No hydrogenated oils, fewer calories, less fat and sugar--and more fiber! (You could make this with hazelnuts and it would be more like Nutella--or any other nut you like.)
Keep reading for Sam's upgrade to this recipe, plus directions and the full nutrition breakdown!
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Some refer to it as food for the gods, others like me, call it a saving grace! Why do we love chocolate so much? Is it the taste, memories, or an experience for the mouth?
As you eat chocolate, it hits so many of the senses. As it melts, it covers your tongue and its smells enter into your nasal cavity. Soon your olfactory receptors and taste buds are all screaming in happiness. For me, that moment has a calming effect on the brain and body. Although I crave that feeling, I am not willing to buy larger jeans, so I choose chocolate that's strong and rich. That way, you don't need much, just a taste.
But...that chocolate has to be full of flavor, so don't give me that waxy variety from the supermarket. I want the real stuff: Dark chocolate with at least 60% cacao. Even better, the real stuff is actually good for us.
The experts at SparkPeople agree: "Studies have found that dark chocolate helps prevent heart disease and cancer, and has also been shown to improve mood by boosting the brain chemical serotonin. Some even consider chocolate an effective diet food, claiming that a chunk of chocolate before meals diminishes your appetite."
What makes up the chocolate we eat? It is not just the bean. Chocolate, in its most basic form, contains cocoa bean solids and cocoa butter. Sugar, milk, and other ingredients can also be added. Depending on the variety, the ratios of the ingredients can vary.
Dark chocolate contains less cocoa butter and more cocoa solids.
Milk chocolate contains more cocoa butter and less cocoa solids than dark chocolate.
White chocolate contains no cocoa solids, just cocoa butter.
I bypass the milk and white varieties for deep, dark chocolate when I want a sweet treat, but there's another kind of chocolate that has a place in my kitchen: Unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder, which do not contain sugar. (Warning! Don't bite into a bittersweet block of chocolate. Your mouth will not be happy.) Instead of eating these straight-up, I use them in savory dishes.
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You enjoy a cup of coffee with your breakfast, a glass of tea in the afternoon, a sports drink as you recover from your workout and a few pieces of chocolate to sooth your sweet tooth after dinner. Nearly 80 percent of people around the world consume caffeine on a daily basis. Adults in the United States and Canada consume an average of 250 mg of caffeine each day whereas those that live in Sweden and Finland consume around 400 mg per day. People in the UK enjoy caffeine in a range somewhere in between with an average daily intake around 300 mg and the average adult consumes most of their caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and medicine. The estimated intake for children is between 150-200 mg per day mostly from soft drinks, sweets, and sports drinks. Do you know how much caffeine you get in a day?
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Chocolate--just saying the word can trigger a craving like nothing else. However, I must confess, for the past two years that hasn't been a big issue for me because every night I have what I like to call my anti-oxidant cocktail. This cocktail consists of one ounce of 70% Lindt dark chocolate with two tablespoons of chopped walnuts. Not only do I enjoy my little treat every evening, these foods contain polyphenols, or chemicals found in plants that can offset free radicals in our bodies, which may help prevent many diseases.
Having been diagnosed with hypertension 6 years and 80 pounds ago, I thought that once I lost the weight and started a consistent exercise routine I would be able to stop my anti-hypertensive medication, but that has not been the case. So I decided to look into other avenues to help keep my risk for developing heart disease low.
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