Passionate about Chocolate

Appetite for Life is all about embarking on new adventures, being brave and embracing all that the world has to offer. It is about finding paths that will lead to happiness, even if only fleeting at times, as it all goes into the pot and keeps you warm when the rainy days come…

So, for the past week, in the name of research – of course – I have been living, breathing and dreaming chocolate! What a treat to indulge completely! With my family on board, and friends as guinea pigs, chocolate has been a consistent ingredient in every meal! Sweet and savoury, some with more culinary success than others, but all have brought excitement and joy to the table!

What is chocolate and why is it that it makes us feel so good? Do your children know where it comes from and how it is made? I am sure some children think it is made at the supermarket! – maybe some adults too! 🙂

Originating from Central and South America, this gorgeous food starts life as a cocoa bean growing in pods on cocoa trees – the pods actually grow directly from the trunk rather than on branches. The tree is called a Theobroma cacao which stems from Greek and means “food of the Gods”. A great reason to indulge if you ask me!

The cocoa seed undergoes a thorough process in order to be ground to pure cacao mass – essentially chocolate in rough form. This mass is then squeezed so that cocoa butter is separated from a very fine cocoa powder. It is the combination of the butter and powder that generates chocolate; this can be done in many ways and adding many flavours. Dark chocolate – over 70% – will have mostly solid cocoa powder with a little butter and sugar maybe. Milk chocolate will have a higher percentage of butter and sugar as well as milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate is made from the cocoa butter, milk and sugar only – no cocoa powder.

To believe, as I do, that chocolate is good for you, it is therefore dark chocolate you should eat as the darker the chocolate the higher the cocoa content and the lower the fat.  Fat content aside, the high cocoa content is what makes chocolate fascinating, as cocoa contains lots of naturally occurring chemicals which have been proven to trigger the levels of serotonin (regulates intestinal movements as well as mood, sleep and appetite) in the brain. Serotonin is most commonly known for its contributions to feelings of well-being and happiness!

So there we have it Ladies (and gents…and children!!), chocolate makes you happy! I must admit that it has put a big smile on my face all week, and with the amounts of it I have been eating no wonder! If you fancy a bit of that joyous feeling, a bit of madness, why not try some of the recipes in the Chocolate section! Better yet, why not surprise your loved one with a treat – a surprise tea or a homemade chocolate delight on the pillow? I especially recommend the chocolate glazed ribs – to die for! The children would probably recommend the crispie spiders and the truffles. These kept them entertained for a long time and created lovely items for the school cake sale! Overall, the children, of course, enjoyed licking bowls and spoons as we went along!

Word of warning though (or encouragement?) – too much dark chocolate may send your head spinning! Closely linked to caffeine, a lot of dark chocolate does “pick you up”. Furthermore, one report has indicated that the effect of melting chocolate in your mouth is an increase in brain activity and heart rate that is more intense than that associated with passionate kissing. Finally, despite no direct links having been proven between chocolate and aphrodisiac effects, these are rumoured!

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