Hye Thyme Cafe: The Healing Powers of Chocolate

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Healing Powers of Chocolate

Back in December, I saw on The Foodie Blogroll that they were doing a giveaway for a copy of Cal Orey's The Healing Powers of Chocolate, so I signed up.  There was even some bonus chocolate involved.  As luck had it, I won, but life has been a little wonky lately, so I hadn't gotten around to reading it until now.  If you're a chocoholic, trying to gain an appreciation for darker chocolates, or even just curious about it's history, this book is for you.

I have to admit that my preference had always been milk or white chocolate, but in more recent years, I have started to appreciate dark chocolate.  I'll never forget when I was in college and my roommate's Dad went on a business trip to Switzerland.  He sent us a ginormous box of chocolates, and we were all so excited when it arrived.  I mean seriously, the Swiss are known for clocks and chocolate (and cheese?), so we expected it to be fabulous.  We COULDN'T GIVE IT AWAY.  Just goes to show how programmed for sugar we are here in America.  We were expecting the super sweet stuff we grew up on.  I wonder what we would think trying those same chocolates now, as adults??

I actually found myself looking around for a highlighter as I was reading, but sadly, I was at a park at the time and didn't have one in my purse (mental note - put highlighter in purse).  I knew that chocolate had antioxidant properties that made it healthy in some respect, but I sort of thought that was just a way of justifying the impulse.  You know, the little angel sitting on one shoulder and the devil on the other; the angel is telling you not to overdo it while the devil is saying oh go on, you know it's good for you!  Turns out it is - in the right blend, and [it should go without saying] in moderation.

"Chocolate, one of the oldest foods, comes from the fruit of the cacao tree -- native to South America and Central America and now mostly grown in West Africa.  Coined theobroma, Greek for "food of the gods" by the Swede Carolus Linneaus, it has been used since Aztec times as a medicinal agent for dozens of ailments."

Things I had no idea about ... chocolate:
  • Is an anti-platelet which, likes aspirin raises HDL cholesterol, lowers LDL, and helps prevent tumors from spreading
  • Controls insulin swings and helps curb hunger between meals
  • Contains poyphenols - you know, the stuff your doctor tells you to drink wine for
  • May help to:
    • Lower your risk of heart disease and cancer
    • enhance your immune system
    • stave off diabetes
    • fight fat
    • slow the aging process
    • add years to your life 
  • Blows blueberries and broccoli away on the antioxidant scale (per 100 grams, unprocessed cocoa powder comes in at 26,000, and dark chocolate at 13,120, where blueberries fall way below that at 2,400, and broccoli just 890)  All the hype lately has been about acai berries - even those fall between the coco powder and dark chocolate
  • Can actually aid in lowering blood pressure (dark)
The list goes on and on.  By no means am I trying to imply that chocolate is the beat all end all in healthcare, but once you have read the book and learned the difference between the different grades of chocolate and percentages of cacao involved, you will have a better understanding of how to incorporate chocolate in to a healthy lifestyle.
Aside from the health aspects of chocolate, Cal shares what she has learned about the history of chocolate, the who's who in the business, offers up recipes to be savored, opened my eyes to a whole spa niche including such things as a chocolate fondue wrap, includes numerous resources for finding good chocolate, and even touches on pets and chocolate.
OK, so my first thought was that I needed a highlighter.  After that, it was hmmm, where/when/how can I hook up with a chocolate tasting in this area, and thinking I'll definitely have to check out her other books ... The Healing Powers of Honey, The Healing Powers of Vinegar, The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, and coming out over the summer - The Healing Powers of Coffee.

A big thanks to The Foodie Blogroll for introducing me to this gem, and to Enjou Chocolat for the treats to read by.

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