Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Fave Chocolate Secrets, Chocolate Makers

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
The New Year is here and Earth changes are in the works. After coping with a three day power outage, slushy snow, ice dams, and cold temps (low will be zero on Tuesday) at Lake Tahoe, I realize it could have been much worse. Once connected to the world again, news of an outbreak of tornadoes in America during the winter and "biblical flooding" down below welcomed me. It has me recalling chilling scenes of the doomsday film "The Day After Tomorrow" .

In the real world, cabin fever is setting in early for me and fantasies of Hawaii or even Washington are toying with my mind. The pool I favor is overflowing with tourists--and I miss my exercise endorphin natural high; it's icy outdoors which makes it a challenge to walk like a penguin with my two Type A Brittanys. Maybe the town will be a bit more sane this coming week and I can sneak a swim and hot tub in before the snowboarders and skiiers do it.

Meanwhile, I'm turning to my furry companion animals and a bit of "winter" dark chocolate to get through the series of severe wacky winter weather around the globe and seasonal effective disorder (SAD). Here, take a quick look at how you can get a quick mood booster from some of the most talked-about compounds in chocolate.

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My Fave Chocolate Compounds

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* Anandamide: Touted as the "bliss chemical," it occurs naturally in the brain and when released to our brain recepteros can provide good feelings.
* Caffeine: This ingredient has a stimulating effect on the nervous system. But note, both chocolate and cocoa contain minimal amounts of caffeine. A 1-ounce piece of dark chocolate contains 10-20 milligrams of caffeine. (You get a lot more in a cup of brewed java.)

* Endorphins: Dark chocolate, like exercise, helps release endorphins, natural painkillers in your body that act on the nervous system to zap pain.

* PEA: Another brain chemical known as the "chocolate amphetamine" can increase blood pressure and feelings of excitement. It also has been called the "love drug" because it can mimic feelings of falling in love.

* Serotonin: This is a brain chemical that can make you feel happier and improve brain power. It can even provide a calming effect.

So, everyone asks me, the author of The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010) (embraced by The Good Cook Club and One Spirit Book Club), "What's your favorite chocolate brand?" It's a task to narrow it down to one, but here is a quickie list that works for me, a devout chocolatarian. In my chocolate book, I discuss in sensory detail about both the "food of the gods" and these specific chocolate makers' unforgettable treasures, which are found either online and/or in grocery stores, too.

* * *

My Fave Chocolate Makers

* * *

Meanwhile, while I have chocolate on the brain, I just heard that we may have fresh snow come this weekend (easier to walk the pooches and a cleaner look outdoors). And I have a nice, roaring fire working its magic in the fireplace, the ice dam is hooked up (thanks to electricity), and I'm watching "Untraceable" (a spooky reminder that I have access to the Internet). It's time to grab a piece of anti-stress dark chocolate and put those feel-good, calming compounds to work.
(Photo: Christopher Norman Chocolates)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

News Flash! Chocolate May Stop a Hacking Cough

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Surprise! Today, a hot off the press news report (actually more than one!) was no surprise to me, the author of The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010). It's noted that the compound theobromine may be what the doctor will order to stop a cough. Uh, yeah... I knew that because London researchers were onto this cure some time ago--and now a British-based drugs company called SEEK are working as I write. In the Home Remedies from Your Kitchen section of my chocolate book, I wrote:

COUGH (Stop Hacking) Sometimes with colds or after them, a cough will follow. Nobody likes to suffer hacking, because it hurts after a while as well as disturbs you and other, right? Chocolate--yes, chocolate--may be the tasty cure for a cough, according to medical researchers. But if you have acute bronchitis, run--do not walk--to your doctor for a checkup. (Bronchitis can end up as a life-threatening pneumonia.)

What Chocolate Rx to Use: Drink a cup of quality dark hot cocoa (or two cups if you can afford the calories; if you're sick your appetite is AWOL, anyhow). Or, opt for an ounce or two of dark chocolate (contains nearly 1,000 milligrams of theobromine--the ingredient that will help suppress your cough) with a 70 percent cocoa content.

Why You'll Like It: If it works, you will be able to rest easy. Also, cough syrup doesn't always taste good, and cough drops don't seem to work that well. And, medical doctors believe dark chocolate may work as well as cough medicine, which often contains codeine, which can make you drowsy. Yes, melting your cough away with chocolate may work. It's the ingredient theobromine--found in cocoa--that proved more helpful than codeine. The reason? The natural cure acts on the vagus nerve, the culprit of coughing.
So, 'tis the season for colds and coughs. While I'm not going to wait for two years to see if the new researchers' work pans out, if I get a tickle in my throat, it's time for hot chocolate stat!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Psst Santa! Chocolate is Still the Craze Everywhere

By Cal Orey,

The Writing Gourmet

I can remember that when I was a little girl chocolate was a part of holidays in suburbia, where I grew up. Once Christmas rolled around, through the New Year's holiday, chocolate chip cookies for Santa, chocolate pudding, and homemade fudge were rich treats that everyone in the family couldn't resist.
Four more days to Christmas...And if you're wondering what gift to get for you know who, chocolate may be just the perfect thing. According to consumer companies, it's the dark healthy stuff that is making the news for the future chocolate makers and chocolatiers.

Here, take a look at some sobering facts, straight from my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010)--that'll show you that chocolate is still the crazy during the best and worst of economic times:

* Research company Packaged Facts claiming in a past report that the U.S. market for chocolate was primed for growth from $16 billion to $18 billion in 2011.
* Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer products, believes the sweet tooth does not seem to be linked to the economic downturn. Mintel projects Americans will continue indulging in innovative dark and premium chocolates.
* The international market for chocolate has skyrocketed in Asia, where chocolate is a modestly priced and available Western luxury that attracts the middle-class folks.
* More than 6 of 10 Americans are loyal to a particular brand of chocolate, but many are trying new brands.
* What's more, nearly 4 out of 10 Americans eat chocolate at least a few times per week.
* Fifty-four percent of Americans said they eat chocolate because they like it, while 4 percent eat chocolate for health reasons.
* Chocolate is American's favorite flavor.
* Chocolate was a favorite comfort food during the Depression in the 1930s.

So, these days come with challenges for many people due to the sluggish economy due to the Great Recession. But the chocolate craze, whether you bake a batch of fudge or buy a box of premium chocolates or gourmet chocolate bar, continues on as a tradition.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

5 Must-Have Holiday Wines & Chocolate Partners

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

In my latest book The Healing Powers of Chocolate Kensington, 2010), I dish out health perks of red wine and dark chocolate. While I do not drink (perhaps that'll change in 2011 and definitely 2012 before the end of days), I do know that red wine is good for you and is included in the Mediterranean diet.
Wine guru Anita L. LaRaia, author of Pick a Perfect Wine in No Time, knows the perks of wine, and chocolate, too. In a nutshell, it's the double dose of good for you disease-fighting and anti-aging antioxidants from dark chocolate and red wine that make it all good. Here is an excerpt from my chocolate book on some wine and chocolate marriages made in heaven (and I include an entire chapter on this topic) ...
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*Blane de Norie-Sparkling Wine: Vosages Barcelona Bar--41 percent cacao; deep milk chocolate with hickory-smoked almonds and grey sea salt.
* Zinfandel (California): "Zinfandel is a good match for semi-sweet dark choclate--and there is a sweet Zinfandel chocolate port that's made as a chocolate sauce for pouring over ice cream, or for dipping strawberries," notes the wine wizard.
* Malbec: LaRaia recommends teaming Malbec with a seven-layer chocolate cake, which will provide a touch of elegance.
* Pedro Ximenez, Sweet Dessert Wine, Montilla, Spain: The wine gal advises pairing this wine with a bittersweet chocolate mousse cake.
* Ruby or Vintage Porto: And last but not least in this mini wine and chocolate menu selection is a sweet red, high 20 percent alcohol dessert wine from Portugal. Porto is a perfect partner with chocolate cheesecake or chocolate pecan pie.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Foodies' Forecast 2011: Eating on a Shoestring Budget

By Cal Orey,

The Writing Gourmet

As a former starving graduate student at San Francisco State (yes, I rolled pennies and cashed 'em in), I realize now I was getting crash courses on how to survive in the real world. (One professor talked the greenhouse effect; another about how to live life so you have something to write about.) Actually, it wasn't as economically scary back in the '80s because my fellow peers were all hungry and living in jeans, T-shirts, and enjoying the free things in life. The cool thing is, I did eat healthy for being flat broke. Read: Brown rice, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grain bread and bagels, peanut butter and honey played a role in my minimalist diet...
Fast forward to the present-day. While warming isn't happening (the temps are dropping andrain/ snow will fall at Tahoe), tonight for dinner, I was going to cook a poultry dish but my little all-natural birds were still frozen. So, peanut butter, bananas, whole grain sourdough bread, and honey (I have a lot thanx to my forthcoming book, The Healing Powers of Honey, Kensington, October 2011) came to the rescue.
The sandwich of health nut students hit the spot as I nibbled on it (and my sweet and sneaky food loving pooch Seth snatched the last bite); while reading the latest news about the ups and downs of the current econony. I'm so confused. Everything is good except for a mega lack of jobs and countries abroad have caught the economic sickness. Not to forget CA, NV and other states dealing with foreclosures, layoffs, and homelessness. I give up trying to figure it all out. I flunked math in college, anyhow. But, as an intuitive (yep, I serve up answers to callers who have questions about the future), I do know and can sadly say that there are a growing number the haves and have-nots. My article "Middle Class Melt Down" (page 24) on this topic made the cover on Oracle 20-20 Magazine, December issue.
My point of this blog post? I, like you maybe even you, can eat healthy on a roller coaster cash flow. That means, sticking to the staples as noted above. These foods are found in the Mediterranean diet--what I practice and preach in my HEALING POWERS book series. These simple and nutrient-rich foods will keep you healthy and lean. And it's so much better to eat this stuff rather than processed foods and junk food. In other words, keep it simple and real and you'll survive eating well in 2011, whether you're a have or have-not or floundering somewhere in between. And now it's time for me to dish out my 2011 Forecasts, including what we can expect for the economy and food costs. That calls for a cup of hot honey vanilla chamomile honey tea (or two).
P.S. I did sense and predict the recession of 2008. My doom and gloom forecast (complete with my black cat's sixth sense) and food facts was dished out in a PR press release to radio talk shows and even geologist Jim Berkland (the scientist who predicted the World Series Earthquake). He didn't believe me at first but later did give me credit for being spot on once it was a global reality and groundbreaking news. Too bad it was a "hit" and not a miss. It's tea and honey time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

News Flash: Hot Cocoa Beats SAD

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

It's still fall but we got our first significant snowstorm at Lake Tahoe...and it's not over. More of that white stuff is going to dump outside tonight. Sure, I like the storm part--before and during. After it's all done, not so much. Tourists and some locals like to play in the white powder but if you live here it's not fun to shovel the deck, keep the wood clean and dry (more shoveling), and walk the pooches in three feet of snow and walk like a penguin on icy asphalt. (Snow removal service doesn't do these tasks.) And that's where sweet dark chocolate and/or cocoa comes in...
So I'm a fall gal, and I find myself facing Old Man Winter. It's a time when I feel irritable, and fed up with the shorter days, colder nights, and lack of sunshine and warmth. It's enough to make a person feel blue and out of whack. Welcome to the world of seasonal affective disorder. But don't despair. Hot chocolate comes to the rescue.
When your serotonin level is low, you may feel down. The happy fact is, dark chocolate contains serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that can make you feel happier and improve brain power and memory. It is a compound in chocolate that can also provide a calming effect. Also, tryptophan, the essential amino acid in chocolate may react like mood-boosting, calming serotonin, helping to alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress.
The bottom line: While light therapy and exercise can and do ease SAD, nutritional experts belive that happy foods--like dark chocolate and cocoa--are important, too. A bonus: Grab the best, such as Lake Champlain Chocolates to Ghirardelli Chocolate. To get a comprehensive Resource List of my fave chocolatiers and premium chocolate, grab a copy of my book, The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), available at online bookstores or have your local bookstore order it for you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Comfort of Chamomile-Honey Tea, the Dove & Olive Branch

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Last night I watched the film "Milk" and it brought me back to my days and life in San Francisco--a place of love, hope, diversity and change. I was touched by the acting, true story, one which had a bittersweet ending of tragic loss and earned triumph--which brings me to present-day full of life's ups and downs...
As an intuitive who works often as a phone psychic advisor, you'd think I'd have a built-in wall by now since I deal with peoples' woes from around the globe. Like a cool, calm, collected personality of a healing Indian doctor, I have fine-tuned my emotions, but it's sipping plenty of hot and sweet chamomile-honey that helps me get through the calls and help people feel better and more balanced.

Speaking of loss, today, I finally made the phone call to Gemma Sciabica, my dear cook-bakeress mentor and friend. It was time for me to acknowledge the passing of her beloved husband, Joseph. I could feel her pain and it saddens me. A lot. Meanwhile, I sit her next to her cookbooks and my HEALING POWERS books and see stories and pictures about the late Joseph, who lived to 95 years young. Joseph was an olive oil maker since 1936. His father, Nicola, and he began with grassroots of olive oil production, which he learned in Sicily, Italy, as a young man. In Waterbury, Connecticut, in the 1940s, it was common for Joseph to deliver a load of wine grapes and olive oil to an Italian family in the city. In fact, Nick Sciabica & Sons sold olive oil directly to Italian families from 1936 to 1968.
Fast forward to the 21st century. As I penned in my book, The Healing Powers of Olive Oil (Kensington), Joseph followed the traditional Mediteranean diet--the foods found in each and every one of Gemma's cookbooks--progressive gems that show how olive oil is the primary fat of choice for good health and longevity. I'm also talking fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, nuts, and, of course, olive oil. Joseph also had one glass of homemade red wine with his dinner each night. And yes, chocolate played a role in his life, too. He did eat chocolate almonds in moderation.
As I sit here I am sad that we lost a fine man, just shy five years of 100. Joseph was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and icon in the olive oil world. I keep hearing Gemma's words she shared with me today about looking at the olive trees and thinking of her dear Joseph, a goodhearted man who always treated her like a lady. Joseph led a happy, complete life with a loving wife and family. As a romantic, I am deeply sorry to see an old-fashioned couple (who were together almost 70 years) be separated.
May God watch over these two eternal lovebirds and provide peace of the symbolic dove and olive branch to each of them--and anyone else who endures the bridge over trouble water.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sweet November, Sweet Chocolate Fondue

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

It's November at Lake Tahoe. The pine cones are still dropping onto the ground which is covered with pine needles not white powder. Today, the temperature was in the high 60s--like Indian summer. And I still haven't made a fire. It's too warm except late, late at night or early in the morning...
Still, chocolate fondue seems like a perfect treat at night. How decadent and healthy can chocolate and good for you tidbits be? Imagine dipping your fave fresh fall fruits into warm dark chocolate? It's ideal for a party, a couple, or even just one for the thrill of it all. And in my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), I include the perfect recipe (on page 180), straight from Lake Champlain Chocolates.
My brain is on honeycrisp apples (these are available now, pricey but worth every penny). And strawberries are still available at our stores. Marshmallows are low cal and a fun sweet; homemade brownies (made with extra virgin olive oil and 70 percent cocoa) dipped in this fondue may be the winner in this house. Sure, it would be 100 percent ideal if I waited till our first snowfall. But sometimes, doing what feels good is worth it.
And yes, I do love the unforgettable tearjerker film "Sweet November" based in San Francisco--my home. It's a place that I remember for my umpteen experiences in my post-Haight Ashbury days to artsy friends' flats, my everlasting link to SFSU, its diverse people from around the globe, a potpourri of restaurants and cafes in North Beach, culture with a capital "C" -- and the winning Giants!

Chocolate Fondue

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1/2 cup half-and-half
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or pistoles
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped or pistoles
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
marshmallows, pound cake, or brownies, peppermint sticks,
strawberries, bananas, raspberries, or apricots

In a saucepan, bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in vanilla until smooth. Pour fondue into a serving bowl or individual cups. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed. Dip the goodies!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Chocolatey Autumn Thanks To Christopher Norman

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

'Tis the cold season rich in falling golden and brown leaves and big orange pumpkins. It's the time chocolate lovers and chocolatiers make a connection--a chocolate link and rejoice. As the author of "The Healing Powers of Chocolate" (Kensington, 2010), I admit I miss the chocolate I was treated to during my research. And Christopher Norman Chocolates is one company that I will not forget.
Today, my fingers on the keyboard took me to their web site. The autumn chocolatey items are awesome: cats, pumpkins and leafs, oh my! If you open that sculpted dark chocolate pumpkin or leaf box you'll be greeted with four seasonal truffles. How warm is that?
Meanwhile, as I scrutinize the variety of autumn chocolates that grace the pages of Christopher Norman's site, I know from past experience that the palate won't be disappointed--mine or yours. Creative, original, chocolatey-delicious are words that are on my brain.
In my chocolate book, I discuss nine top-notch chocolatiers and this company in New York is one of them that is buzzworthy. Not only does Christopher Norman Chocolates play up seasonal chocolates but they are good to go year-round.Since autumn is my fave time, I can't help but enjoy the chocolate wonderland of creations. It's that time to put my order in and anticipate a fab chocolatey season.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Recession Food for the Haves and Have-Nots

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Recently, I've been booked on upcoming radio shows such as "Turn Financial Fears into Cheers" to chat it up about money making hurdles as we Americans continue struggling on the bumpy Recession Recovery Road. I've never been a huge "have" but regressing to a penniless "have-not" as I was in graduate school and hitchhiking across America in the seventies, is not something I prefer to do (again). Been there, done that...
In the January 2010 issue of Oracle 20-20 Magazine, I forecasted that "the middle class will struggle to make ends meet and the "haves" and "have nots" will be more defined this year. Money issues will continue to affect all ages groups around the nation." And this prediction does ring true as we edge toward the end of the year.
More than 20 years ago. I fell into the health-nutrition writing genre. The cool thing is, hundreds of articles and many books later, I know how to eat and stay healthy during lean times. But other people continue to shock me by their ideas about eating when money is scarce. Some folks still believe that if money is tight that eating white rice and spam or hamburgers and fries is the way to fill up and survive.
There really is no need for me to dish out a recipe for cooking up brown rice and veggies. This is what is on the menu for tonight. Sauteed cruciferous vegetables, and tofu with cooked whole grain brown rice (with a bit of olive oil, herbs, and honey) should suffice. What's more, this can last for leftovers. Not only is it cheap and healthy, but it's so easy to put together and it's tasty. And you'll stay lean and heart healthy eating like this, too.
So, the question remains, why do people eat processed food (stuff in cans) when times are tough (or not)? Whole grains, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, herbal teas--are some of the feel-good edibles. It's cheap eats, like these (including a dark chocolate truffle or full cup of a homemade latte), that enhances happiness while coping on Recession Recovery Road.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Time to Celebrate with Chocolatey Biscotti

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

I'm craving crunchy chocolate. Last week I purchased gourmet store bought traditional biscotti. It was yummy. To give it a lift I made frosting from scratch. I used a mixture of dark chocolate chips, 60 percent cocoa content), confectioners' sugar, half and half organic milk, and pure vanilla. Mix till the consistency is the way you like it--creamy. Yes, it was to live for. All gone...
So here I sit taking calls for the phone psychic network and watching a chick flick, "Obsessed." No wonder I'm craving chocolate. Another unrequited love call to unsweeten my mind. Okay, chocolate is on my brain. Yes, good chocolatey stuff is chock-full of mood enhancing ingredients, including PEA (the love drug) and serotonin (the get happy compound we need when it's gray and cold outdoors). It's time to turn to Gemma Sciabica's recipe for biscotti. She is the biscotti guru on the planet. Last week on the phone she promised me that these are easy to make and bake. See her cookbooks. I feel like I have a Julie and Julia connection--but Gemma is alive and likes me! (Her recipes are in my Healing Powers series (olive oil, chocolate) and in my upcoming brand new book, The Healing Powers of Honey (October 2011, Kensington).

* * *
Chocolate Biscotti

3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (3 ounces)
1/3 Marsala Olive Oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons rum liqueur
grated peel of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60-70 percent cocoa content)
1 cup pecans or walnuts chopped, small

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Make well in center. In another bowl add eggs, melted chocolate, oil, juice, rum, peel, and vanilla, sir. Pour egg mixutre into flour mixture, stir until dough is well blended. Add chocolate chips and nuts. On floured board divide dough into 4 to 6 pieces. Shaped pieces into logs 2 by 12 inches long. Place on foil-lined greased baking sheet, 4 inches apart. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven; cool about 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into about 1/2-inch thick slices. Place biscotti, cut side down, on pans; bake 8 to 10 minutes to toast. Makes 60 to 70. Cool. Frost with chocolate frosting (white chocolate or dark).
Ah success. I just received a call, a repeat caller from the network. My intuition was correct! The young woman got her wish met for a challenging career-school goal. I am so happy. She succeeded as I sensed she would (along with my continual intuitive tips and advice). This calls for a celebration. She is so faraway in miles and my reading was spot on. It's time to make chocolate biscotti with dark chocolate frosting. The phone is ringing. It's going to be a long night. I sense it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Sensitive Dishes It Out: "I Feel Your Heartburn..."

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
So, how in the big cruel world did I, a health-cookbook author-"quake sensitive" end up being a part-time phone "eight ball" for an international phone psychic network, anyhow? Blame it on the Great Recession hit (yes, I predicted it as others did back in 2007). In the winter of 2009, I called a psychic (or 10) to ask questions about my work as a writer. The answers were off the mark...
Then, one pre-spring day I thought, "For years, I've been dishing out quake predictions and getting credit for "hits" on national radio shows. Reading people and their challenges that rock their world is no different." The rest is history.
These days, on the job I tune into the faraway caller around the globe. Once I hear a voice it sets the stage. Often I can pick up if the call is from the West Coast, East Coast, Canada,Trinidad, New Zealand or Australia. It's not always the accents. It's my animal-like intuition that kicks in from the get-go. But there's more.
I use the planets as a baseline, lunar cycles (emotions and calls soar during the New and Full Moon), and a tarot card (or two) to get an objective read which often coincides with what I've picked up with my gut instincts. As a super sensitive I can read a caller's woes by tuning into their voice, energy, and words. I get cues within a minute or two of their, age, sun sign, and issue(s) why they're ringing me.
Yeah, I can feel vibrations. Both callers and myself are often surprised that I know things, such as if they have a toothache or heartache. The most common problem, however, I am faced with, is unrequited love--and this hurts. How do you say, "he or she isn't that much into you?" especially when the caller's ego is wounded, fears being alone or the unknown. Part of me wants to play Mayer Hawthorne's song, "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" while I drink a cup of peppermint tea to soothe my empathy pains of the caller's heartburn.
But I offer advice and words of preparedness for upcoming events (even if a caller can't see it yet). I tell it like it is (yes, I do get images, words, feelings like I do before an oncoming quake) because saying good things doesn't always bring good results. It's like saying, "A quake won't hit" when I'm looking at the USGS map watching an aggressive swarm in a city on an active fault; and the caller is located at the epicenter. (You can find out more about how I do what I do in my Earth Changes column article "Confessions of a Phone Psychic" page 24, September issue of Oracle 20-20 Magazine.)

P.S. Excuse me, the telephone is going to ring. Trust me, it is. Meanwhile, the Full Moon is on the 23rd. If you'd like to speak with me about what's eating you, e-mail me via my web site . You can also see my roots of being a sensitive at work Author-Intuitive Cal Orey.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Healthy Chocolate for Worker Bees

By Cal Orey
The Writing Gourmet

It's Sunday afternoon and it's raining outside. I feel SAD, sort of. A bee guru warned me that postpartum blues could hit home once I finished my hard work on the big sweet honey book. This guy knows worker bees...
Yep, I'm feeling a bit down. My mood could be also due to not swimming today (the resort pool is off limits to locals during the weekends). I do miss my link to writing about the nectar of the gods and sacred honey bee. But hey, I did walk the dogs, cleaned the fish aquariums, worked the psychic network phone lines, and am getting ready to whip up a dish for my Tahoe Daily Tribune column, "What's Cookin at Callie's Cabin". I am so worker bee-oriented. Blame it on my genes or maybe I was a bee in a past life. If it wasn't for the recession (yes, I sense it's not over) in the works I'd probably fly to Italy for its honey and...
... chocolate: A while ago, I was sent a box of Chava Vital Chocolate. It's super "healthy chocolate"--the stuff that's good for you, really good for you. I'm not talking about mass market milk chocolate at the grocery store, nor premium chocolate filled with sugary goo and artificial ingredients. These chocolates are the real deal. Yep, we're talking super dark chocolate squares with super antioxidants. The cool thing about this healing chocolate is that it tastes healthy so you won't overdo it like you can with the sugary junk. Also, it boasts a creamy texture and a flavor that tastes like almonds or cherries. That means it keeps me coming back and it's not ending up in the trash like some healthy chocolates I've tried in the past.
So, go ahead. Check out this good for you chocolate. excerpted a list of compounds in chocolate from my book, The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010). And I'm sure as a honey bee on the job that these guys are in Chava. Also, I penned an article "Chocolate World" in this month's Oracle 20-20 Magazine (page 24) that'll explain more info about chocolate for chocolate lovers.You can grab a copy of my chocolate book from me, online bookstores, book clubs, local bookstores, and anywhere you choose. (Psst! On October 28 it's Chocolate Day!)
Meanwhile, I think I'm going to go and snag a square of Chava for a nice pick me up while the sky is gray and it's all wet outdoors. I used to think I could live in Washington state but if I did I'd have to have chocolate--all kinds! (To find out all about Chava power, log onto this link and discover the dark secret.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Phone Psychic Sensed Food & Romantic Meltdown

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
Tonight, I was craving hot, healthful comfort food with a twist. I put together a quickie dish that turned out heavenly. In fact, it was so good I was going to have a second helping (I don't eat after 7:00 p.m.--it's my secret to staying skinny). But something untimely and not so funny happened on the way to the kitchen...
The phone rang. No biggie, right? Wrong. I was signed into the psychic phone network. I ran back to answer, "Intuitive Callie..." The glitch: I was sensing that my food-loving Brittany, Seth (Mr. Brainiac--a tall and lanky problem solver) was into something good. I can't believe it but I paused and said, "Can you hold the phone for just one second? I'm sensing something bad is happening." (I knew my furry child was being a bad dog.) Since I had told her the region she was calling from (yeah, I can do that; it's a gift)--she didn't go anywhere.
I was right. Seth's orange and white paws were on the kitchen countertop and he was wolfing down half the Mac and Cheese casserole. Well, he did leave me about 40 percent; thanks to my gut instincts that helped me catch him in the nick of time. (I knew there was a reason why I didn't use anti-dog friendly onions. I must have sensed my beloved canine food snatcher with an uncanny knack to get what he wants would hit my food tonight.)
Once back to the phone, I dished out my advice to the caller. "No, he is not your "soul mate." I strongly picked up the fact that the relationship in question was doomed and not the romance of the century. It was an easy read. No need to go to tarot. No hesitation on my end. I was asked to give a quick answer and I turned into my eight ball mode and it was done. The couple is overcooked. And I'd put money on it.
Meanwhile, Seth is on his back doing the happy doggie roll and chewing his bone so I don't think it's animal ER time this time around. Here's the simple recipe but when you make it keep the pooch away and don't answer the phone.

Heavenly Mac and Cheese

2 cups whole grain pasta shells, cooked
1/2 cup 2% low-fat organic milk
2 tablespoons European style butter
1 1/2 cups premium all-natural white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup premium all-natural sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup seasoned all natural bread crumbs (or pre-seasoned: for a treat)
fresh ground pepper

In a sauce pan boil pasta. Meanwhile, in another sauce pan combine milk, butter, cheese till melted and hot. In a baking dish pour cheese mixture over cooked pasta. Top with a dash of pepper and bread crumbs. Bake at 350-375 F. for about 30 minutes. Serves 4 or 2 and a dog.

I hope I still have a job with the psychic network. My intuition tells me that I do. But psychics can get fuzzy readings when they try and read themselves. Tomorrow night I'm going to be on a national radio show to chat it up about my intuitive powers (see the article "Confessions of a Phone Psychic" on the cover of Oracle 20-20 Magazine, September issue) and how I dish 'em out to phone callers like the one that just called. Uh oh, the phone isn't ringing. I think I need a second helping of comfort food. Worse, it's after 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Honey Book is in Flight to New York

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

Yesterday, on my birthday, I did it. I finally let go of the buzz-worthy book, The Healing Powers of Honey (Kensington, October 2011). My sibling surprised me with a dark chocolate cake decorated with a honey bee. How sweet is that? Today, the big book is on its way to the East Coast, 3000 miles away. Yes, my honey book with all the fruits of my labor is in transit. And now it's time to celebrate autumn and prepare for winter...
As a worker bee-type of individual, it's difficult to relax. But that doesn't mean fun times arent ahead. I'm talking more swimming, more dog walks, and fall cleaning--every crook and cranny. Baking and cooking healthful foods on a shoestring budget is also in the works for me for "What's Cookin at Callie's Cabin"--the weekly column in the Tahoe Daily Tribune. (This week it's Autumn Apple-Maple Scones.) Not to forget spreading the word about, The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010).
And other people from around the globe are coming to me for my intuitive skills, which is fine because it really isn't work--my sixth sense is a gift so it comes naturally. So, goodbye my sweet honey book. 'Till next year when we reconnect.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Contest: Winner,Winner Chicken Dinner: The Healing Powers Food Books

Last night we had thunderstorms, rain, and ponding. Oh my! Today, a weather forecast notes snow may be around the corner at Lake Tahoe. And I just got back from swimming at one of our resort pools... I heard chatter from locals amid tourist of getting the stay well flu shot. But hold the phone...
Personally, I don't do shots. I prefer to eat nutrient-rich superfoods, exercise (swim and walk my Brittany duo), sleep 7 plus hours a night, and keep it healthy by trying to chill during ups and downs in life with its mixed bag of stressors.
Another way I stay away from bugs is by turning to chocolate, olive oil, and vinegar. Yep, it's these good for you foods that may help you stave off pesky bugs and super bugs. This month of October, I'm offering the internationally popular Healing Powers series to you. Purchase two and I'll toss in the third one for free as well as free shipping. (Trade cover, retail at $14; you'll receive 3 for $28.)
Just e-mail me at -- and tell me why you love one of these superfoods. Then, dish out the three books you'd like me to send to you. (You can pay me via PayPal (click on $28) near the books on the homepage) or via check. These books are genuine gifts of health for you during cold-flu season and the upcoming holidays. Hundreds of edgy home cures and healthful recipes are a mouse click away!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Day in a Life of a Health Author--Phone Psychic

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

As I sit here in worker bee mode and typing on the keyboard I am pondering about my life as it is today. I am a health author fine-tuning edits on my fourth book of the Healing Powers series. This time around it's "honey"--due to be published fall harvest time next year. And, I continue to dish out articles that feed the spirit and mind... Not only did I pen the Fall Horoscopes for Complete Woman magazine (still on the stands), but I just finished my Earth Changes column for Oracle 20-20 online magazine, November issue. (Not to forget "What's Cookin' at Callie's Cabin"--this week's article is about how I survived getting sick like an overworked worker bee.)
In between these tasks, I still am answering the phone rings..."Intuitive Callie... I'm sensing you're a Pisces. Uh-oh, I'm picking up energy that all is not well in Canada, your home..." And I still like it. It is odd, though, how I know exactly where these callers are calling from. How do I know that? It's the same as writing. The info comes to me. It's the same as cooking. The ingredients and how and what to use comes to me.
So, tomorrow is October 1...on the 6th it will be my birthday. Oracle 20-20 will be publishing a piece tomorrow that I wrote about decadent chocolate "CHOCOLATE WORLD" -- PAGE 24, (You can still read "Confessions of a Phone Psychic"--September issue, below October on the site). And again, I'm fantasizing about a killer chocolate cake but as an indecisive Libra I can't decide what type to make--white, milk, dark chocolate--or all three. Two layer, bundt cake, one layer, cupcakes...Maybe I'll tune into Intuitive Callie...Nah, she's signing off and going to Slumberland (even worker bees are motionless at night).

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hottest Immune Boosters for Autumn Colds

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
Tis the season for changing tree colors, changing temperatures, and ah-choo! colds and flus. It happened. Working like a worker bee on proofing my forthcoming book, The Healing Powers of Honey (Kensington, October 2011)--and at night I turn into the nightowl Intuitive Callie. Read: Burning the beeswax candle at both ends ends up getting you sick.
I recall during my Woman's World magazine columnist days, that I penned an article about boosting the immune system in the fall and what foods can help you to do just that. Naturally, nutrient-rich edibles, right? So here I sit in bed (with my two cuddly canines--Simon and Seth), drinking water--lots of bottled water...Chicken soup today, yesterday and the day before. And did I mention all-natural orange juice?
Yesterday, I went swimming but I felt like a sick fish. The hot tub sufficed. I've heard from the community grapevine that yes, folks at South Lake Tahoe are dealing with the "bug." Not fun, especially for a Type A worker bee who finds it a task to relax. I picked up a copy of the Tahoe Daily Tribune to see my What's Cookin at Callie's Cabin column "The Gift of Banana Bread" on the cover. That made me smile and reconnected me to my cat angel, Gandalf who is looking over me. I can feel him and his healing energy. Tonight: I will be answering the phone for the psychic phone network. (It just rang and I did dish out relationship advice. I can do that sick or well. My intuition didn't get sick. )
Pampering time is in order during the lull. That means movies, movies, and movies. Hot herbal tea later with a gift of rare white honey I received from Hawaii will also be comforting as the temperature drops tonight and rises to 80 tomorrow afternoon. I bought chocolate today for its healing powers so that must be a sign I'm getting better. Hot chicken vegetable noodle soup, orange juice, water, tea, honey, oatmeal and strawberries (this a.m.) critters--and chocolate... These are my favorite fall immune boosters for getting well faster.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Dish Is...I'm an Author-Phone Psychic

By The Writing Gourmet
The Full Moon cycle is paying us a visit this week (and the first day of autumn) and I'm still retrieving phone calls from people around the globe. On September 1, an article I penned was published in Oracle 20-20 Magazine. Yes, "Confessions of a Phone Psychic" (page 24; on the cover, too) was the first time I came out of the closet of crystal balls, so to speak. And this week I was a guest on "X-Zone" to talk about my second shift as a phone psychic.
More news: I'm done writing the book about honey. My final words were input and the process of proofing is in working bee mode. I am elated as a honey bee on its fave flower. And, beeswax furniture polish and honey lovers' candy landed on my doorstep. Not to forget the honey varietals--one from the Islands is arrived today--I'm still tasting and receiving. (Healthy chocolate is paying me a visit on Wednesday!) And that's not all...
Come October 15 the honey bee book will fly to New York and I will begin to nest in the sierra. Read: The wood is stacked; the flannel sheets and shirts are working; winterizing the cabin is in the works; swimming at the resort pool (off season heaven) is this week's treat; and maybe even savoring a Lake Tahoe snow flurry (or two) come next month--and make that first crackling fire. What's more, I'll be baking savory nut breads, pies, cookies and scones. (I whipped up a surprise for the Tribune for this week's column.)
The bottom line: Fall is near and I am excited. It's my season--a peace-loving Libra and am sensing positive changes are in the air. That big, bright Full Moon this week should bring out plenty of emotions in women and men on Earth. One more thing. My sensitive black cat Kerouac and two Brittanys and I? We're still sensing that the Pacific Northwest and Northern California--including Tahoe--is in for a cold fall-winter season.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Special Autumn Horoscope...A Taste of Fall

By The Writing Gourmet

I feel fall. It is coming around the mountain...At Lake Tahoe seasons hit sooner than other regions. One of the aspen trees in the front yard is turning golden and the leaves--like the pine cones that the squirrels are fattening up on--are dropping. At night, my furry children are sneaking under the comforters. This weekend I'm fixing on baking a fish casserole--but I will swim on Sunday afternoon...
I just tried out baking an Old World cheesecake--I'm glad I did. It flopped. If you saw Julie & Julia, the scene where she dropped the stuffed bird on the kitchen floor or when she burnt a stew and had to do a redo? Well, that was me this afternoon. Not fun. I had to give the ancient wonder a New World twist...and just may have to tweak one more time.
On the upside, today my hard work was splashed BIG like a whopping whale on the cover of Complete Woman magazine: Your Special Autumn Horoscope; in Health magazine, Sept. issue (now on the stands) I was interviewed about the fat-burning power of vinegar--I haven't seen it yet, though.
So, it's back to Honeyland... Just thought I'd journal my thoughts on this Friday night, one that I am craving an overdue beach holiday (that the tourists will enjoy next week). Ironically, a beach is two blocks away. Yeah, I must have been a dedicated worker bee in my past life. I should have been a carefree whale. But writing the honey book is close to closing time and I can see the light, like that.
P.S. The whale photo? That's me reading the fall horoscopes that I penned.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Here Comes the New Fall Chocolate Delights

By Cal Orey
The Writing Gourmet

I miss Chocolate Heaven. Each day I go to work on the honey bee book, I feel like I'm in Honey Bee Limbo and I'm forgetting my last love--chocolate. It's still summer, the season touted for its fresh fruits, salads, lemonade and iced tea. Chocolate isn't a big deal during hot days. But I'm feeling the beginning of fall at Lake Tahoe, and that means baked breads, muffins, casseroles and homemade pies. Best of all, it means chocolate...
Don't get me wrong. I adore healing honey and its healing byproducts. I enjoy working in Honey Land. It's intriguing. But I do miss the day of chocolate, sweet dark chocolate packed in pretty little boxes left by the UPS man on my doorstep, rain, snow, sleet, and shine. No worries. Boxes of honey varietals are still keeping me happy. Tonight I worked on a chapter while nibbling on honeycomb (and sweet memories of chocolate truffles teased me).
Come fall, when The Healing Powers of Honey book is out the door and in flight to New York, I'll remember this night--without chocolate. It is a time of fall hints (it will be 38 degrees tonight and leaves are beginning to turn amber) and the warm day air of summer. It makes me feel like I'm in a wasteland--something like being in between Chocolate Heaven and Honey Land.
I'm thinking the perfect Rx to get me out of this worker bee funk is chocolate--the good stuff like I've savored throughout the seasons. Think New York's Christopher Norman's to San Francisco's Michael Recchiuti's Confections.
Or perhaps I'll bake Cal's Earthquake Cake (the recipe created by Gemma Sciabica--complete with ricotta cheese is in my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate, Kensington 2010). It seems timely as our golden state has been shaking a bit, from the 3.9 south of Gilroy to the 3.5 north of Truckee near me. So, while I'm coping with Earth changes (my dog Seth sensed the last shaker and jumped up into my lap!) and working and talking with passionate and hardworking beekeepers in the midwest and around the globe, a slice of dark chocolate cake with an Italian flair may be the cure. Its feel-good compounds, like serotonin to PEA, page 39, may make this worker bee continue onward. It's time to buzz off and see if I can find a chocolate pistole in the file cabinet.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's the Most Buzzworthy Ice Cream?

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

It's hard being a worker bee and paying the rent. Read: Writer's Block has hit once again. Lifetime is not making me smile. It's too late to swim. The dogs have been walked. But the book, the big book in the works--The Healing Powers of Honey (Kensington, October 2011)--in the study is calling my name: "Callie. Callie. Callie." I am trying to tune it out but the buzzing...the's not working...
So, here I sit rereading an ice cream blog post that I penned last July. Translation: The block is bad. The post was a ranking of the best chocolate ice cream. Today, I'm into chocolate and vanilla--a special kind, that is. So this year's winner, according to me the chocolatarian, is...

Vanilla Honey Bee. The carton reads: "Help the honey bees at the web site. After all, my worker friends pollinate one third of natural foods. That's the stuff I and you eat. The good stuff.
And, of course, as the author of The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), I'm sitting here with a pint of Dark Chocolate Haagen Dazs and Vanilla Honey Bee--also by Haagen Dazs--and their awesome job of helping the honey bee. As a Libra, which do I indulge in is the question or do I go into the oh so l-o-n-e-l-y study and work, work, work. Such a decision. No wonder bees work in colonies.
Gosh, to think that last year this time I was in my worker bee mode and did a chocolate ice cream ranking test. This is a must read. Meanwhile, I think I'll ponder how I can relate to the sacred honey bee and/or nibble on both ice creams.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NEW Really Cool Chocolate Bars: Fruits & Herbs

By Cal Orey,

The Writing Gourmet

Wanna taste a yummy healthy dark chocolate bar infused with lots of good stuff? Stop looking because Enjou Chocolat's "A Taste of Health" Variety Pack has arrived on my doorstep and can be on yours, too. Yep, chocolate bars infused with chocolate's best friends...
As the author of the new book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), I have tasted dozens of dark chocolate bars--it was for research. My simple taste and working system worked like this. The dark chocolate bars (70% cocoa content is proven to be good for your brain to your heart and other body parts) that were both healthy and tasted good didn't last in my home. They were eaten by me, the sibling, or friends. Alas, the ones (and there were a lot) that boasted good health sadly missed the mark by tasting like cardboard, crayons, or worse. I put 'em in my file cabinet for a rainy or depressing day. One year later: They made it to the garbage can.
Back to the really good chocolate bars. Out of the five, I knew the one that would win my heart: Ginger Orange Peel...The Blueberry/Cranberry followed. And I have three more to go.
The Ginger Orange Peel was awesome. I love ginger. I love citrus. Combine these puppies with dark, creamy chocolate (Wendy, you got it going on with the texture and taste of chocolate unlike so many other bars I've put to the test) and you'll be soaring high in chocolate world. Yes, those feel-good mood-enhancing compounds blast the blues and bring on the mighty endorphins to do their job--no matter what kind of day hits you or challenges you face.
As I write in the chocolate book:
* Orange: Another immunity-enhancing citrus fruit, oranges are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B1, fiber, and potassium. Best Choco Blend: Dark chocolate bars...
* Ginger: Ginger root is a digestive aid, like tasty cinnamon...Best Choco Blend: It is used in dark chocolate bars.
And, and, and I still have the Goji Berry bar to go. We're talking wolfberry/goji which is a delicious fruit known for its positive effects on vision and the brain. Best Choco Blend: Dark chocolate bars.
Read: I'm on overload (think worker honey bee with six weeks to live) as I'm stuck writing/researching/tasting honeys from around the globe... that I so need this bar (more than one)! The bottom line: If you want something chocolate, something sweet, and something healthy, it's time for A Taste of Health. You'll get it in this five pack and it came in the nick of time for me. Thank you Wendy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Enjou S'Mores--Comfort Food During Hot Times

By Cal Orey,

The Writing Gourmet

We are experiencing a heat wave at Lake Tahoe. Like most Sundays, I swam today. But when I start to crave swimming in the lake (again)--that's a sure-fire sign that it's a cooker. Translation: No way is Callie cooking. But chocolate? Now, that's another story. Despite what some folks may think, chocolate can be savored in the good old hot summertime. But you have to know how to do it...

Enter Enjou S'Mores. Wendy, founder of Enjou Chocolat, sent me a package of chocolate delights. The S'Mores is a treat that I just had to try. Her web site describes it best: "An Enjou twist on a classic fave. A fluffy treat of marshmallow is sandwiched between two graham crackers and then covered in chocolate."
According to history, it may have been the Girl Scouts who created the first s'more back in the early 20th century. Nobody really knows for sure, though. Meanwhile, you can find these chocolatey-gooey treats at restaurants, make them yourself, or get them ready-made--like I prefer to do, especially when it's still in the 80s.
Sure, images of sitting around a campfire at the lake at nighttime making s'mores is a romantic image. And I was a Brownie as a kid. But personally, tonight, I'd rather chill at home by the fan(s); open windows, watch the film 2012--and munch on these ready-made goodies (no microwave needed). In fact, it's so warm that they're in the fridge. In an hour or so as the Earth's crust displacement starts; our golden state falls shakes and falls into the Pacific Ocean; and the Yellowstone Caldera blows... I'll take one of these chocolate delights out of the cold box and fix a glass of homemade lemonade to go with it.

Thank you Wendy. You're making my night a joy as I plan on playing hooky from writing my honey bee book and am going to watch the sci-fi doomsday film--complete with all the chaos. I'm glad these graham crackers are crunchy (but not too)--good stress releasing comfort food during nail-biting movies like, this one. These chocolate gems are superior DIY ones. No mess making 'em, no mess eating 'em because they are wrapped in creamy chocolate. What can I say? I'm a die-hard chocolatarian who thrives on good chocolate and bad disaster flicks. Yikes, my movie is on. "Subjects have now entered the 'hot zone'." OMG! Where are the s'mores?
P.S. In my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington,2010), I discuss how exactly both dark chocolate and milk chocolate (it boasts calcium) can help you to chill.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's Healthy Chocolate Today--And All Year Long!

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

I woke up this morning with honey on the brain. After all, it's my new book in progress and yes, I'm busy as a worker bee so I can share the latest honey health buzz. As I write The Healing Powers of Honey (October 2011, Kensington), I still am having a love affair with chocolate. So when I read that July 7 is Chocolate Day it brought back fond memories of the chocolatiers whom sent me chocolate via UPS. Ah, those were the sweetest days in the fall, winter, spring and summer...

Is it time you discover the amazing powers of chocolate. Did you know?...

* Known as Mother Nature's "food of the gods," the medicinal benefits of chocolate were recognized as far back as 4000 years ago.

* Eating chocolate can help boost the immune system, lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes--even obesity!--and increase lifespan.

* A 1.5 ounce bar of quality chocolate has as much antioxidant power as a 5 ounce glass of wine--without the side effects of alcohol.

* Chocolate is chock-full of mood-enhancng ingredients, including phenylethylamine (the "love drug") and serotonin.

* Chocolate can relieve a host of ailments, including depression, fatigue, pain and PMS, as well as rev up your sex drive!

Meanwhile, last night at my friendly Safeway I craved a healthy chocolate fix so I picked up a small package of gourmet dark chocolate truffles. As an author-intuitive I must have sensed that today was Chocolate Day. If you want to give you or someone you care about the belated gift of health, check out the link to one of my fave chocolatiers (everyone always ask me what the best chocolate is)... Today's chocolate of the day in my point of view and past experience(s) is...(drum roll): Lake Champlain Chocolates . Remember, chocolate can be a year-round gift for your health from head to toe.
[The Healing Powers of Chocolate by Cal Orey, published by Kensington, 2010--available at (delivered tomorrow!) as well as all online bookstores and your local bookstore]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chill with Heart-Healthy Chocolate Graham Crackers

By Cal Orey,

The Writing Gourmet

Ah, it's hot outdoors--in the 80s today--at the sierra. Yes, at Lake Tahoe our summer has arrived. As a busy worker bee--I'm working on the forthcoming honey book--but whipping up a hot, home-cooked meal seems like too much work. The Brittany duo and kitty Kerouac are whooped from the heat, too; but they don't have to work for a living in a resort town like I do...
Speaking of work, I received emails today touting new research showing dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure. That's no news to me--I put it in my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010). Of course, I feel eating a natural Mediterranean diet and getting a move on to keep your weight in check also are keys to maintaining lower BP numbers. Read: Yesterday, I swam outdoors. The pool was bliss. It was calm--all mine. Considering taking the plunge into the cold lake to chill--after a decade of avoiding swimming in it, it may be time to take a dip. Or not. Wasn't there crocodiles in that film Lake Placid?
On the topic of good health, the other day I had the pleasure again to speak with Wendy, owner of Enjou Chocolat . We chatted about heart healthy dark chocolate and I raved about her dark chocolate dipped graham crackers. I just ate one as I sip cold, spring water. These cookies are awesome--something to write home about or send home to for a gift to savor. They took me back to childhood graham crackers but they have a sophisticated grown-up twist. And if you're looking for something crunchy to pair with iced tea or a cold glass of calcium-boosting milk (also known to help you stay heart healthy and lower those cholesterol numbers)--these special crackers are better and more soothing for humans while dealing with the ongoing sound of firecrackers (and spooked companion animals who don't like loud noises) for the forthcoming Fourth of July. With a gourmet touch these scrumptious grahams are your ticket to chocolate nirvana in the hot summertime.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's Summer--Time for Chocolate Olive Oil Ice Cream

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Living in a tourist town has its ups and downs. Personally, I am an autumn gal and my mantra is "fall, fall, fall." I have been writing articles for mags getting ready for the season of gray skies, leaves changing colors, cooler air, crackling fires, warm sweaters and jeans, cozy comforters, and baking food. I know my choice of seasons will come again. But now it's time to chill and go with the flow of it all. Summer has arrived...

And that means it's time for less clothes, gardening, windows open--night and day--homemade lemonade and iced tea, seasonal fruits and vegetables, lighter eating--and cold, creamy ice cream. Chocolate is the flavor of flavors, naturally.
So, while I--Ms. Introvert--gets into the swim of seasonal change--tourist overload, no indoor spa pool/hot tub, noise with a capital N, warmer temperatures, crowded roads, the beaches and stores filled with kids 'n' parents--I crave feel-good chocolate to make it all feel better.

* * *
Chocolate Olive Oil Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup Hershey's dark chocolate chips, melted
1 small orange in segments, banana, peach, or fruit of your choice
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
1/2 cup sugar
In a blender add all ingredients; blend until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker; follow manufacturer's directions. The olive oil is a substitute for unhealthy fat.

One more thing. I know tourists love Lake Tahoe and locals love tourists for self-preservation. But many residents do look forward to off season--me for one--because of its quietude. It is a challenge to write a book and stay focused while so many people are away on vacation or here playing in our resort town. But I can do this--with ice cream and swimming in a new, improved place (it's a secret) and did I say ice cream? Three little months. "Fall, fall, fall."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Top-Notch Chocolate(s) for Father's Day

By The Writing Gourmet
"He has enough ties. Give him beer and chocolate." --Vosges-Haut Chocolat

As the author of my latest book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), I'm often asked the question: "What's the best brand of chocolate?" Today, I'm thinking of three of my fave companies that made me smile during research--and can make the dad in your life smile on June 20. So, here you go--a quickie list of the chocolate worth writing home about and keeping some for yourself!...

Lake Champlain Chocolates: To decide which product I enjoyed the most would be an arduous task. The day I opened the box of chocolate products, I was overwhelmed. Every item was impressive to the eye and palate. For a gal who was eating Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bars, biting into an Organic Spicy Aztec Chocolate Square put me in another class of chocolate. I was hooked on spicy flavors in chocolate, thanks to the Lake Champlain Chocolates Seelection, in an impressive green box with an image of a lake surrounded by mountains--much like Lake Tahoe, my home. the epicurean nutty-tasting Chocolate Peanut butter Cup had me at the first bite. I was ready to move to Vermont.

RICHART Paris: I chose the citrus selection out of the family of seven flavors offered by RICHART. It was an exotic experience to bit into a burst of the Grapefruit Ganache fruity delight. I discovered it has a healthful 74 percent cocoa content. Its small size made me recall why the French who practice the traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle do not get fat. It's all about savoring superb food, including fruity chocolate, and practicing portion control. (There was only one Grapefruit goodie in the box of chocolates, and I was left craving another one.)

Vosges Haut-Chocolat: The Italiana collection was my choice of a box of exotic truffles. The Rooster: combined with Italian taleggio, organic walnuts, Tahitian vanilla bean, and bittersweet, dark chocolate--a spicy and nutty truffle to love. The Balsamico is a truffle to remember: 12-year aged balsamic vinegar from Modena mixed with dark chocolate and roasted Sicilian hazelnuts. Nor will I forget Olio d' Oliva, with extra virgin olive oil and white chocolate topped iwth dried Kalamata olives. It was like a box of European delights custom mad for the author who wrote the "Healing Powers" series, including vinegar and olive oil.

So, there you go. You've got time to get to these chocolates and give 'em to the father(s) in your life. One more thing. Grab a copy of my chocolate book and give it to that guy--tons of health-oriented stuff that'll keep him healthier and happier.