Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Toast to Gourmet Hot Chocolate



I remember in the film Under the Tuscan Sun when Katherine (Lindsay Duncan) indulges guilt-free in an ice-cream cone and Frances (Diane lane) takes a peek at the uninhibited woman enjoying herself. It's healthier to eat your favorite foods--including dark chocolate--in moderation than to deprive yourself of life's simple pleasures, which can lead to overeating. Pssst! With gourmet food you don't need to go there.

While processed cakes, cookies, and ice creams are not healthful (usually because they contain too much sugar, preservatives, and artery-clogging trans fat), homemade desserts and beverages can be good for you. Yeah, it's for real. Also, any time you can pair fresh fruit with gourmet treats, by all means do as they do in Europe and savor the best fruit of the season.

On the topic of seasons, today, I and my companion animal trio endured thrilling thunderstorms, lightning bolts, and heavy rain at Lake Tahoe. They are cool because they've grown up with it all so it's "normal." But instead of hitting the swimming pool, I waited for the roofer to repair the water leak(s) in my study.

And now, I am sitting contented, in front of a warm fire, and watching a film on TV. My two Brittanys, Simon and Seth, are sleeping on the couch, and Kerouac, my black cat is curled up in the catnapper. It's time to treat myself to a mug of gourmet hot chocolate. (I was comped plenty of the luxury stuff from luxury chocolatiers around the nation during research for my forthcoming book on chocolate.)

So, what exactly is this kind of hot chocolate, anyhow? I use organic low-fat milk with gourmet dark chocolate shavings (just like you'll find and taste in Europe). And yes, I will include a dallop of whipped cream (without trans fat) and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Not only am I getting a good dose of good calcium and vitamin D from the milk, the chocolate provides iron, other nutrients, and feel-good compounds (which are discussed in my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate--due out at the end of the year). The bottom line: Don't stress over extra calories and fat. You can enjoy a pleasurable treat--like gourmet hot chocolate which boasts good dietary fat--and enjoy its healing benefits, too.

Adapted from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil

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