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    Archive for the ‘Endangered Species chocolate’ Category

    Hershey’s: When In Doubt, Hype and Deflect

    For my penultimate post relating to the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (fun wrap-up post tomorrow!), I want to focus on the rhetoric one often hears at Big Food booths.

    Whereas companies that sell real, whole food products focus on what they are actually selling (be it hemp seeds, green tea, or snacks made from whole, non-GMO ingredients), Big Food tends to rely on hype and deflection.

    Continue Reading »

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    You Ask, I Answer: Raw Chocolates

    chocolate-bars-400Do you know anything about raw chocolates?

    What are their benefits? Are they better than standard chocolates?

    — Coco (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    I love raw chocolates — so rich and decadent!

    Actually, I love raw snacks and desserts in general for two reasons:

    • They are absolutely delicious
    • They are made entirely with whole, unprocessed foods and, consequently, are very nutritious

    A raw “key lime pie”, for example, is made entirely from nuts, seeds, dates, avocado, and lime.  It tastes just like — if not better than — conventional pies I’ve eaten.

    Let’s go back to raw chocolates, though.

    Unlike conventional chocolate products, these varieties are dairy-free and not exposed to temperatures higher than 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

    This is where raw foodists and myself see things very, very differently.

    Whereas I view many raw versions of popular foods as nutritious simply because they are made with whole, unprocessed ingredients, raw foodists claim that because these foods are heated at no more than 118 degrees Fahrenheit (or less, depending on who you speak with), they maintain their digestive enzymes, which in turn keep us healthy and slow down aging.

    FYI: thee lower temperatures do help preserve higher amounts of vitamins and minerals.

    The enzyme argument doesn’t hold up though, because enzymes are proteins, which means they are digested and effectively rendered useless in our bodies.

    Remember — our bodies produce the digestive enzymes we need.

    Raw chocolates are great in that they offer a good amount of nutrition due to their unprocessed ingredient lists, but you still need to keep an eye on calories.

    I was recently HORRIFIED when I came across a raw cookbook in which the author declared that “calories don’t matter” when eating raw.

    Excuse me?  They most certainly do!

    It just so happens that raw diets are high in fats and fiber (which help contribute to a feeling of fullness quickly), so it can be hard to consume excessive calories as with other diets.  However, make no mistake about it — consistently surpassing your caloric needs results in weight gain, whether these calories are coming from raw or cooked foods.

    FYI — most raw chocolates still contain some added sugar in the form of raw agave nectar (which, some raw foodists argue, is processed at temperatures too high to preserve those enzymes they are so fond of).

    In any case, there is very little difference between their ingredient list and that of a dairy-free, 75 percent cocoa chocolate bar (like the Endangered Species brand)

    To summarize: Raw versions of snacks and desserts are healthy because they often offer substantial nutrition, not because they are cooked at less than 115 degrees Fahrenheit or offer enzymes.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Chocolate With Benefits

    6a00d83451b19169e20115701502e1970b-500wiHow much truth is there in the idea that chocolate can be a health food?

    If it’s true, does that mean I am getting some health benefits from any chocolate product?

    — Alice Costello
    (Location Withheld)

    To answer this question, it is important to differentiate between cocoa and chocolate.

    Cocoa refers to the seed from the cacao fruit.  Chocolate, meanwhile, is a term that describes a product that, among other ingredients, contains cocoa.

    In the vast majority of cases, chocolate is composed of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and other additional ingredients (i.e., almonds) or flavorings (i.e, vanilla).

    Many articles on this topic inaccurately mention the health benefits of chocolate.  In reality, the focus should be on cocoa.

    Cocoa contains a variety of flavonoids — a type of antioxidant — that have been found to have a protective effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.

    To get the most out of cocoa, buy pure unsweetened cocoa powder and include it in a recipe (such as this no-bake brownie bites recipe I posted back in February).

    Flavonoids are negatively affected by processing, which is why you get negligible amounts in popular milk chocolate products like M&Ms or Kit Kat bars.

    That said, some chocolate bars contain higher flavonoid levels than others.  Here are some guidelines to help you find them:

    • Look for “cocoa powder” on the ingredient list.  If you see “alkali-treated” or “Dutch processed” varieties of cocoa powder listed, you are looking at major flavonoid loss
    • Look for chocolate bars that are comprised of at least 75% cocoa
    • Ideally, look for chocolate bars that are milk-free (such as Endangered Species) or contain negligible amounts (such as Dagoba), since certain components in milk appear to limit the absorption of antioxidants from cacao.

    If you seek out cocoa flavonoids in chocolate bars rather than cocoa powder, be sure to keep an eye on calories.

    And, also, as wonderful as the flavonoids in cocoa are,  there are plenty of other foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds) that offer various other varieties that are just as beneficial.

    Remember, health is determined by the totality of your diet, not the inclusion of any one food.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Cocoa Butter

    I recently went vegan.

    The other day I was reading chocolate bars’ ingredient labels and didn’t know if cocoa butter was an animal by-product or not.

    Can you help?

    — Laura Brenty
    Chicago, IL

    Sure!

    Cocoa butter is 100 percent vegan — it is a purely vegetable-based fat naturally found in cocoa beans.

    Vegan chocolate is very easy to come by — a lot of the big drugstores, like Walgreen’s, carry it!

    To make sure it is completely dairy-free, be on the lookout for milk solids and/or whey-based ingredients.

    By the way, one of my favorite brands of vegan chocolate — actually, one of my favorite brands of ALL chocolate — is Endangered Species (pictured alongside this post.)

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