Betty Wedman-St Louis, PhD, RD, LD

Licensed Nutritionist & Environmental Health Specialist

Archive for the ‘dark chocolate’ tag

Chocolate Spicy Popcorn

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Chocolate Spicy PopcornCombine the famous US snack food and sweet brown powder from the cacao tree and you have the making of a healthier snack than you’ll find in the supermarket. Chocolate has become one of the most popular favors in the world and was used widely throughout the Mayan empire over 2000 years ago. It was not until the Spanish added sugar and milk that our current chocolate delights entered the culinary scene.

On a recent trip to the Savory Spice Shop, St. Petersburg FL. a college favorite snack flooded my memory as I picked up sacks of cocoa powder and a spice blend called Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning. A college roommate was always on a diet and needed “something crunchy” to help her study. Popcorn was her best option for a low calorie snack.

Many people think popcorn is regular corn kernels but it is corn kernels with the starch extracted. The starch is used for cornstarch or laundry starch and the pith that remains can be used for packing material, explosives (fireworks) or popcorn snacks. The calories from popcorn snacks come from what is applied to the popped kernels.

Sweet corn and livestock feed corn contain up to 50% oil which contributes substantial calories. Corn products are also not a good nutrition addition to the diet since they are deficient in the amino acid lysine and B vitamin niacin. Today, some ornamental varieties of corn are grown with tiny red, white, yellow, purple and blue kernels. These ornamental varieties are offered as gourmet popcorn because the seeds dry well and can be stored for extended periods of time.

The Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning can add a zesty taste to the Chocolate Spicy Popcorn. Chili and cumin powders complement each other to increase blood flow and improve bronchial congestion. Chili stimulates endorphins, kills pain and induces a sense of well-being. Adding grated dark chocolate to the snack mix adds calories but can be added at your discretion.

Marcona almonds from Spain are the best choice for a healthy snack because they are not pasteurized with hexane gas. Marcona almonds with rosemary, available at a local specialty market, are a favorite healthy snack. Almonds have about 150 calories per ounce (about 20 nuts) which is 60 % more calories from fat than protein.

Chocolate Spicy Popcorn

6 cups air popped corn (1/4 cup unpopped)
1/4 cup chopped Marcona almonds
1/2 cup dried No Sugar Cranberries or Cherries
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce grated dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning (optional)

Toss together popped corn, almonds and cranberries in lightly oiled 9 inch square baking pan. Combine honey, coconut oil, and cocoa powder in bowl or saucepan. Heat to blend. Pour over popcorn mixture. Toss to blend. Sprinkle on dark chocolate and seasoning mix. Makes 3 servings.

Calories per serving 185

Protein 1 g
Carbohydrates 22g
Fat 8 g
Sodium (no seasoning) 217mg (with seasoning) 467mg

Written by bwsl

March 3rd, 2015 at 2:22 pm


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Strawberry Salad with Chocolate DressingBefore you munch down on all that chocolate candy in the Easter basket, consider the real truth about which dark chocolate has cocoa flavanols to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.

Only a special patent and proprietary process of chocolate production conserves the naturally occurring flavanols from cocoa beans. That patent is held by a family owned chocolate company whose interest the past 10 years was to develop a heart healthy indulgence. Along the way, another big chocolate company tried to infringe on the patent process but closer scrutiny indicates that their dark chocolate label reads very different than the original producer in maintaining cocoa flavanoids. Don’t be fooled by “natural source of flavanol antioxidants”.

The cocoa bean is one of the richest sources of flavanols but the content of flavanols in RAW cocoa beans is different when it is made into chocolate , unless the patent process is used. Chocolate manufacturers roast, ferment, pulverize and even alkalize cocoa which destroys the flavanols.

What about the studies that report cardiovascular disease improvement in blood pressure and blood flow through arteries. A close look at the studies show that the cocoa source used in these studies come from the same patent and proprietary source company. Even the press release of the FASEB Journal article in March 2014 entitled “Dark Chocolate Deters Atherosclerosis” needs to be read closely in order to pick up the statement : “study participants received either specially produced dteasark chocolate with high flavanol content or chocolate that was regularly produced”. Researchers call that “stacking the deck” for showing dark chocolate is healthy.

Since there is no standard method for analyzing flavanols in foods, chocolate manufacturers have the consumer believing that the higher the cacao (70%, 72%, 86%) must indicate more flavanols. Unfortunately, people are consuming hundreds of calories daily thinking they are eating healthy. Flavanols are bitter tasting so sugar is added- usually at least 1 teaspoon per serving.

Your best bet for consuming any flavanols is to add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder into coffee, warm coconut beverage, oatmeal or yogurt. Don’t even bother thinking milk chocolate or cocoa mixes have flavanols. Another way to use cocoa powder is to make this chocolate dressing for fruit salads. A chocolate bar can be grated as a topping for the salad.

Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Dressing

3 cups chopped romaine lettuce, washed
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves, washed
2 cups hulled & sliced strawberries
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons CocoaWell powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped toasted macademia nuts
Grated dark chocolate square, optional

Arrange romaine and spinach leaves on plate. Top with strawberries. Combine vinegar, oil, cocoa powder and salt in small bowl. Beat thoroughly. Drizzle over strawberries. Top with nuts and grated chocolate. Makes 4 servings.
Calories per serving : 98; Protein 2 g, Carbohydrates 8 g, Fat 12 g, Sodium 235 mg.

Written by bwsl

December 24th, 2014 at 7:34 pm