Monday, 4 February 2013

Chocolatey facts

So, February has arrived.

It' still cold.

And if your New Years resolutions haven't all gone to ruin then please tell me how you've managed to keep it up! Think I may have been too ambitious with mine this year. On my list I have gems such as learning a language in a, lets say, quite "optimistic" time frame. In fact I did want to learn two, yet fear that I may have just been carried away with the promise of a fresh year to get my hands on.

Other things i have done slightly better with, such as, reading. I promised myself that I would become "well-read." You know those people who manage to recite on que the perfect quotation for a situation or make appropriate references to the classics? Yeah, that's not me... Ever so slightly in awe of them.

So now January has ended and Feburary is upon us, I've decided to get into the swing of things. And I'm giving this blog a good chocolate coating. What better topic for the home month of Valentines day and let's face it... yet another month in which I am no doubt going to be indulging in a fair amount of chocolate.

As is the case with many others, I have a chocolate weakness. It is up there next to ice cream. Honestly, whats better than ice cream? Really, what?!

"But you like to eat healthily and you're talking about eating chocolate?" I hear you cry.
True, I like to eat as healthily as possible. I find limiting my sugar intake helps me and this isn't too difficult when cutting out the majority of highly processed foods.

So where does chocolate fit in?

Unsweetened cocoa is said to have certain health benefits. However, it is important to note that this is UNSWEETENED cocoa.

So what's wrong with standard chocolate bars?

The most common problematic ingredients in chocolate bars are;

Sugar and milk powder; The sugar and milk in regular chocolate bars can take away from the healthy effects of the cocoa. Sugar especially makes up the vast bulk of a great deal of chocolate bars and as it has been said that sugar has immunosuppressive effects and seeing as a great deal of conventional chocolate bars are filled with the stuff, this can't be the greatest health move.

Soy lethicin"One other common source of soy is lecithin which is used as a emulsifier in many foods and supplements. Most lecithin in the US is derived from soy but there are some newer products that extract it from organic sunflower. We switched over to the organic sunflower lecithin a few years ago in all of our products."

Some fun sugar related facts - number 20 is particularly important

So what types of chocolate are there left?

Personally, I've been on the figurative chocolate tour bus trying to figure out where I stand on this issue. The debate between articficial sweeteners, normal refined sugar chocolate to fructose sweetened chocolate. There's quite a wide choice avaliable and I've kept my mind fairly open to the subject. Even now I am not 100% in one camp when it comes to which chocolate may be best in terms of which is the pinnacle of chocolate health perfection. Yet weighing up what I know, my chocolate of choice is dark chocolate. I like to chose a good quality organic dark chocolate with the largest percentage of cocoa that I can still enjoy the chocolatey taste through. This usually hovers around the 70% to 85% mark. Depending on the brand - they all have slightly different tastes. I do still play around with xylitol sweetened chocolate (they taste good and actually give a bit of a minty fresh aftertaste) but they are usually fairly brief encounters as I find the GI side effects unpleasant and it is a fine line to cross before you've had "enough."

I do have occasions, as with most things, where I am faced with, in this case, some really special chocolates. Chocolate is a pleasurable food and while I may keep tabs on the amount I eat and definitely the quality, you can bet I am not going to miss out for a genuinely special one off.

What type of chocolate do you eat? Do you find artificially sweetened chocolates work for you or do you prefer a natural sweetener? Or is chocolate more about enjoyment and for the occasional treat, quality can take a backseat?

Is chocolate one of your vices or does your heart belong to another, such as my unreciprocated love affair with ice cream?

Let me know you're chocolatey thoughts in the comments! x


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