Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Breakfast at Callie's

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
Indeed, breakfast is a time to enjoy healthful and indulgent foods to provide energy and fullness for the rest of the day. It's a leisurely time for me, these days, especially when the weather forecast calls for snow, rain, and thunderstorms in the upcoming days around the sierras as we near June. The way I see it, the chilly air and gray skies will keep some tourists away in town--and give me more time to enjoy some of my fave nesting mountain hobbies: Making a fire, swimming in an indoor pool, watching films while working on my new book, baking, and, cuddling up in the mornings with the boys--Simon, Seth, and Kerouac...
Every morning after I let my canine duo outdoors and feed them, I sneak back to bed with my breakfast: fresh fruit, and often, chocolate in many forms--from nibs in my granola to organic chocolate milk in my cup of Joe. Truly, chocolate is a wonderful way to start out your day with a taste of health and indulgence...
In my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate, Chapter 10, "A Cuppa Coffee and Chocolat" I provide ways coffee is good for you as well as special coffee recipes, from Basic Latte to a Mocha. Teaming both chocolate and java is not only pairing superfoods--it's two treats that'll fill up your tummy, and warm up your heart and soul, time after time like the unforgettable classic film "Breakfast at Tiffanys".

Chocolate Oatmeal Walnut Muffins

* * *
1 cup quick-rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar (optional)

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or line muffin cups (2 1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.
2. Stir together oats and buttermilk in small bowl; let stand 20 minutes.
3. Stir together oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl. Add oats mixture, stirring well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add to oats mixture, blending until moistened. Stir in nuts. Fill muffin 2/3 full with batter.
4. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Removed from pan to wire rack. Sprinkle muffin tops with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warm or cool. About 14 muffins.
(Source: HERSHEY'S is a registered trademark. Recipe courtesy of the Hershey Kitchens, and reprinted with permission of The Hershey Company (C) The Hershey Company)
[Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Chocolate by Cal Orey (Kensington, 2010)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

News Flash: Researchers Tout Chocolate Is Skin-Friendly

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

Is eating dark chocolate in moderation good for your skin? Can it make your face, arms, tummy, back, buttocks, legs and feet feel and appear younger looking and protect you from wrinkles? Studies past and present-- reported by "The Telegraph" have spawned a buzz about how a new chocolate can do the trick ["The Antioxidants Can Protect You From Wrinkles and More"]--showing that yes chocolate is skin-friendly. But as an age-conscious boomer and health-nutrition author edging towards the big 58th birthday I already knew that. In fact, fine chocolate without new, improved frills can work wonders...
Savoring 1.5 ounces of quality chocolate, 70% cocoa content with little sugar and little caffeine--and used on the outside of the body (chocolate infused beauty products) can certainly help smooth skin and leave it radiant because cocoa is rich in anti-aging antioxidants (also found in other superfoods, including fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and red wine).
When I did my research for The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), I was treated to a chocolate bubble bath (think images of the oh so sensual solo bathtub scene in City of Angels as I did) and manicure at the four star Siena Hotel Spa Casino in Reno, NV. Not to forget two small homemade decadent chocolate truffles..But that's not all... Other posh spas offer skin treatments, such as: Chocolate Body Masque, Chocolate Fondue Wrap, Chocolate Facial, Chocolate Pedicure, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Wrap, and Chocolate Scrub/Massage.
What's more, experts largely agree a healthy skin and glow is a reflection of your overall health and well-being. It goes back to moderation and diet. Eat nutrient dense, natural antioxidant-rich foods--this includes fine dark chocolate in moderation--exercise, and use sunscreen and forget the tan to avoid skin cancer and aging skin.

* * *

Anti-Aging Antioxidants in Dark Chocolate

Catechin: can strengthen immune responses
Epicatechin: may stave off heart disease and diabetes
Flavonoids: may help to reduce bad "LDL" cholesterol
Resveratrol: may have anti-cancer properties
Tannins: nutrients that can stave off strokes and heart attacks

The bottom line: If you take care of the inner you the outer you will look younger from head to toe. Check out more good for you chocolate news and you'll be surprised to discover that quality chocolate in moderation does boast healing powers for you and your skin and overall health. FYI: check out the NewsMaxTV video:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chocolate Rx: Can Chocolate Cure Lackluster Libido?

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

Did you know?... A 1.5 ounce bar of quality chocolate has as much antioxidant power as a 5 ounce glass of wine?

Can chocolate be the cure to feeling sexy again? Some people think it can. "Chocolate is viewed as an aphrodisiac because it includes a plant substance that mimics human sex hormones. Part of the chocolate makeup hits the same brain pleasure centers as when we are happy, in love, or sexually aroused," explains sex expert Dr. Ava Cadell, in Los Angeles, California. "The brain also releases feel-good chemical such as serotonin that produces a eurphoric sensation."...
Thanks to phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural substance in chocolate, when you eat chocolate it also triggers that magical reation in your body--similar to that magical feeling of falling in love. And who can forget the legendary Italian lover Casanova and the Marquis de Sade, who allegedly turned to chocolate for a seduction ploy.

What Chocolate Cure to Use: Incorporate a small amount of dark chocolate (preferably 60 to 70 percent cocoa content) into your diet every day. The darker the chocolate and less sugar and less calories, the more you're apt to achieve results without unwanted weight gain, which can often make both men and women's sexual appetite plummet.
Why You'll Like It: You can count the ways why pairing chocolate and lovemaking will make you smile. Bot the forbidden fruit and sexual activity are good for the heart, spirit, and soul. Plus, health experts know there are health perks of lovemaking such as it can burn calories, induce sleep, calm you, and boost self-esteem. So, this spring -- a time when couples couple up -- why not double your pleasure during foreplay and the afterglow by sharing chocolate, the dark stuff that tastes rich and can arouse your sensual pleasures, too?

* Check out more hot cures to put to work in the new book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Recession-Style Banana Nut Muffins

By The Writing Gourmet

I finally get it. Before the Great Recession I didn't think about "budget" or "cash flow". Money wasn't in my vocabulary when I'd go for swims at one of the resort pools. Often a Starbucks banana nut muffin and latte would be my treat--10 bucks. (I'd gamble, too. Remember, I'm "intuitive.") Then, things changed...
Today after swimming and hot tubbing (yes, I still do it because it keeps me sane and healthy), I came home to a cup of tea and I whipped up a batch of homemade banana nut muffins. Why? I read my banana nut bread article "Going Bananas" in Friday issue of the Tahoe Daily Tribune and 1) It made me hungry; 2) I wanted the nice sweet and spicy aroma in my cabin. 3) A few bananas in the kitchen looked ripe and I thought: "This it a perfect time to save money." Note: The Gulf oil spill may cause the low cost of bananas to soar. Or not. No matter. I did the math quickly. If I made 12 muffins and froze 'em--think of the dough I'd save!
Meanwhile, I'm thinking this is so sad. I'm one of the boomers who thought all would be good to go and no money woes in my golden years that are ahead of me-- one day. While things could be worse, I'm more money savvy these days. I know now that the recession recovery or threat of a double whammy is not life-threatening. I--the penniless one who wore jeans and t-shirts and hitchhiked around America with my pooch--can do it. After all, the best things in life are for free or you can make it yourself and practice self-reliance.
BTW: Yes, this intuitive did predict the recession mess (I was one month off). Here, take a look at the press release: "Author-Intuitive's Lean Times Forecast Hits on the Money". Yeah, I saved it, too.

Recession-Style Banana Nut Muffins
* * *
1 3/4 cups all natural whole wheat flour
1 brown organic egg
1 cup 2% low-fat organic milk
2 -3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
raw organic sugar

In a bowl mix dry ingredients. Fold in beaten egg, milk, bananas, oil, nuts and flavoring. Pour into a paper-lined muffin tin (12). Sprinkle each with raw organic sugar (it makes a nice crunch). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or till golden brown. Cool. Eat one with a cup of hot tea (chamomile is good to help you stay calm during the ups and downs of ongoing economic woes). Freeze 11 muffins for a rainy day or power outage. Read: Thunderstorms are forecasted this week.
P.S. Coincidentally, it's also going to rain tonight and tomorrow at Lake Tahoe. On the bright side (or maybe not), I've noticed a few For Sale signs in the neighborhood. More change$ are in the air. I feel it. I'm getting vibes that it's time for a cup of tea. And the cost is just about right.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Left My Heart--& Fave Chocolate(s)--in San Francisco

By The Writing Gourmet

Here I sit on a Thursday afternoon. Sure, I swam, walked the dogs, made a store run (heart-healthy dark chocolate chips and fresh strawberries for the Tahoe Daily Tribune's Callie's Cabin column), and am working on the new superfood book. Instead of being on a lovely cloud nine I'm fantasizing about my chocolate thing with Recchiuti Confections...
I am craving the awesome, exotic flavors of infused dark chocolates that I have consumed and loved in the past. Right before Mother's Day I received the Rust Box. This collection has a history behind it. As I wrote in The Healing Powers of Chocolate: In 1997, Michael wanted to bring creation to a larger audience and introduce Americans to 'real chocolate.' "This was the first part of a long journey into the world of chocolate," says the creator of Recchiuti Confections. While working at a boutique resort nestled in a small town located in Barnard, Vermont, it gave him the opportunity of having guests taste and critique his confections. "The response was challenging at times,"admits Michael, "which eventually enabled us to nail down a collection of our first eight flavors, which we now call the Rust Box Collection."
My simply favorite chocolates are down to two:
Ginger Heart: "Rich dark chocolate infused with ginger. Cast in a white chocolate coveture and finished with gold leaf." I adore ginger and use it in many dishes that I cook and bake in my rustic cabin with a sprinkles of old Tahoe charm. Ginger and dark chocolate? It's no surprise this is a fab combo.
Kona Coffee: "100% Hawaiian Kona Coffee beans infused in fresh cream and blended with semi-sweet chocolate." Teaming healing java and chocolate? It works for me from head to toe. When I visited The Big Island, one morning at sunrise I shared rich chocolate(s) and a few cups of coffee with a friend. It was paradise.
Recchiuti Confections At Recchiuti they infuse a variety of chocolates, pairing them with an adventurous spectrum of flavors, from Fource Noir, Bergamot Tea, Lemon Verbena, and Spring Jasmine Tea. Their distinctive confections contain the finest herb, nut, and fruit essences in surprising combos. And the elegant packaging reflects originality and presentation. You can place your order online or by phone: 800-500-3396.
So, did I leave my heart in San Francisco (this super video and super song makes me homesick!) I need chocolate. Sometimes I think "yes" that is where I'm supposed to be--the place where I went to school and had plenty of literary friends. But hey, the grass often seems greener elsewhere and others believe Lake Tahoe is the hot spot. I think I'm going to pick up the phone and place an order--and so can you wherever you may be and/or wishing you were in the City--or resort town-- too. I wonder if I can order all Ginger Hearts.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Single Women Prefer Canine Breakfast Companions

by The Writing Gourmet

I admit it. I have a big thing for good dogs and good apples. It didn't take long to find out that I'm hardly alone. A recent Australian trend shows single women prefer dogs to men. That makes me feel a bit better. After all, both dogs and apples are good for you: they can keep the doctor at bay and help you live a longer, healthier life...
Fresh apples--Fuji and Honeycrisp are my favorites. Apple pie. Apple turnovers. Baked apples. But it's Apple Pancakes that is on my brain. It's gotta be the Tahoe snowstorm and chilly temps that's got me craving a hot breakfast. So, tomorrow a.m. I'm going to cook up this superfruit dish and go back to bed with the boys (my two Brittanys). A cup of Italian roast, a couple of dressed up hot pancakes, and sliced oranges will make the morning seem like it's not a work day, sort of.
Maybe it's because I'm a native laid-back Californian or a nightowl. Whatever the reason, I'm up by 8:00 a.m., but I do like to savor breakfast and work in bed with the laptop computer till it's swim time. And truly, munching on good for you food; snuggled in comforters in a warm waterbed (a golden state thing) while watching the world news, fielding emails, sandwiched in between two loyal and happy Brittanys is my idea of a nice and busy morning--sun or snow or both.
On the downside, I may be embracing my spinsterhood. My pampered pooches (they sleep underneath the covers with me every night and since each were six weeks old) are my canine companions--woman's best friend(s).These are the boys whom flanked my side at B&N book lectures/signings. These guys are the ones who are under my feet when I pen articles and books--day and night. My guys help me sense oncoming quakes and calm me when I use my psychic abilities when clients ring.
Meanwhile, I wonder if I'm destined to be am old maid forever or until my next life if there is an afterlife. For now, I probably should order a couple of "I forgot to get married" t-shirts. I wonder if they make 'em in orange and white, the colors of my canines.

* * *

Apple Raisin Pancakes

1 2/3 cups all-natural whole wheat flour

Approximately 1 cup 2% low-fat organic milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 medium Fuji apples, chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup raisins

1 tablespoon Confectioner's sugar

Drizzle olive oil into a frying skillet and turn onto medium heat. Drop a large spoonful of chopped apples/raisins and top with batter mixture. Flatten with spatula. Let cook like a pancake. Once bubbly and the edges appear thick flip over and cook till golden brown. Serves 4 to 6. Top with premium maple syrup and dust with Confectioner's sugar and dark chocolate curls or nuts.

One more thing. My dogs don't snore, nor do they hog the covers. They sleep when I want to sleep and play when they want to play. No hassles. No demands. No worries. It's all good. No wonder I'm not the only single woman who prefers dog bedmates. Note to serious dog people (singles and couples): Apples, raisins, nuts and dark chocolate are people food. Not for dogs. Feed the four-leggers first. Bones will suffice while you soar to Apple Pancake utopia. Wow. I sure hope there are dogs in heaven.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recchiuti's Spring Motif Comes to Lake Tahoe

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Tomorrow promises to be a day of work and play. The work part is that I'm in research mode for my new super food book. Translation: It's like going back to graduate school and taking several classes--on hands experiences with foods and edgy products, out in the field doing unheard of things, plus lots of reading and networking. In between my studies, I'll sprinkle in a good swim, hot tub, walking the pooches, baking something for my "What's Cookin' at Callie's Cabin" for the Tahoe Daily Tribune--and fine chocolate will arrive on my doorstep...
This time around, these chocolates for me are anticipated for many reasons. One, the artwork is awesome. In my early twenties, I was nicknamed "California Butterfly." Yes, I was a wanderlust at heart. My dog Stonefox and I hitched and hiked across America, Canada, and Mexico. It was a time for adventure, new experiences, visiting different states (from Washington, Texas, Florida and New York); and it was a time for learning and living during my carefree days as a hippie hitchhiker.
These days I'm more of a homebody with two pampered Brittanys (today, Seth, my three year old had his teeth cleaned) and I write about my past life when I was more of a traveling girl. But there are rewards of living in a resort town and being a bit more grounded, so to speak. (Note to self: Reno is on the late spring calendar for research that will be different and full of suprises.)
Enter Recchiuti Confections. It is a standout company from the crowd of competitors because of its skill, as well as its sourcing of the best chocolate, herbs, spices, teas, nuts, and fruits. And putting it all togther with classic French techniques provides an unforgettable product with class that is a cut above others.
The Spring Motif is a collection of burnt chocolate truffles decorated with breathtaking butterflies just in time for spring and Mother's Day (I'm a devout doggie/kitty mom). And I predict that the dark chocolate ganache with smoky-sweet caramel will make a hit in this home and transcend me to chocolate heaven.