Thursday, January 20, 2011

Valentine's Day Top Nutty Chocolatey Matches

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Years ago, my landlord-friend, a sophisticate who loved Europe and loved good foods, was like a good teacher (like the character in the film Harold and Maude). During our dining experiences she, in her eighties, always ordered one glass of red wine and said to the waiter, "It's good for my heart." And one night I remember we were sharing our tales of chocolate love. She told me without hesitation, "My favorite chocolate candy is the dark kind with nuts." And note, my longtime food-savvy friend is now almost 100.
Too many people who struggle with unwanted pounds and body fat are too quick to say, "No, thank you" to eating nuts with or without chocolate. This is a mistake. I do eat nuts and I do eat all-natural peanut butter with chocolate, especially in homemade cookies--in moderation. Both are high in monounsaturated fat (this is the good stuff like in chocolate and olive oil), which can help satisfy cravings for junk food while they boast essential nutrients. I'm talking about flavonoids, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, mangnesium, and protien.

Nuts are used in candy--like truffles--both for extra flavor and texture. Here are some popular nut and chocolate combos you will find in chocolate, truffles, and baked goods.

* Almonds--combined with hazelnuts. Dark and milk chocolate. Chocolate bars, chocolates, clusters, truffles.
* Cashews--combined with dark chocolate. Chocolate clusters.
* Hazelnuts--combined with almonds. Balsalmic vinegar with dark chocolate and Sicilian hazelnuts. Dark chocolate.
* Macadamia nuts--often solo. Dark, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. Chocolates, truffles.
* Peanuts--often mixed with caramel. Dark and milk chocolate. Chocolate bars, chocolates, truffles.
* Pecans--often solo. Dark and milk chocolate. Chocolates, truffles.
* Pine nuts--combined with chocolate in baked desserts, chocolates, and coffee.
* Walnuts--often mixed with fruits including apricots. Dark and milk chocolate. Chocolates, truffles, baked goods.

So, where oh where can you buy chocolate with nuts for Valentine's Day? One click of your mouse can help you to pick and choose a good-for-you nutty chocolate gift for you know who or even you. Here are a few of my fave chocolate companies that keep me smiling.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chocolate Cure Combos for Mother's Day

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

Ever wonder if chocolate can cure health ailments and cosmetic problems? It can! I'll describe 10 uses for some common woes, from A to Z, and provide amazing but different chocolate folk remedies for each Chocolate Rx--straight from The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010)--which includes dozens of chocolate home cures. So, take two chocolates (or sip a coffee mocha) and call me in the morning.

What Chocolate Rx to Use: Try eating an ounce (or two) of dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa content to lessen sugar intake) or drinking a cup of hot dark chocolate once a day during a bout of pain. Also, teaming this remedy with aerobic exercise (such as walking or swimming) can help loosen tight muscles and improve symptoms of pain. A soothing Jacuzzi is also helpful for achy muscles.
Why You'll Like It: Chocolate is rich in magnesium, a mineral that can help both muscle pain and stress. Both exercise and hydrotherpy paired with dark chocolate (it includes endorphins--natural painkillers in your body that act on the nervous system to alleviate pain).
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Try drinking a cup of hot chocolate (unsweetened cocoa with organic milk) or bar infused with plenty of essential vitamins and minerals.
Why You'll Like It: While anyone suffering from anorexia should consult a doctor, adding multivitamins, minerals, herbs, an healthy food high in complex carbs may provide help in dealing with this eating disorder. Functional foods, like dark chocolate, chock-full of healthful mood-boosting compounds, can be beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit.
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Team chocolate with other bone builders, including magnesium, manganese, and calcium-rich milk. Each day opt for a cup of chocolate milk or a chocolate shake (low-fat if you're counting calories).
Why You'll Like It: Magnesium is great for beating bone loss, as well as calcium absorption. You need manganese, another bone-boosting mineral, to maintain bone cartilage and bone collagen formation. A bonus tip: Drink your energizing chocolate shake before or afgter exercise. Weight-bearing exercise (such as lifting free weights) can also keep your bones strong.
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Try two squares of dark chocolate or exotic truffles found from chocolatiers like Lake Champlain Chocolates. Repeat as needed in moderation.
Why You'll Like It: A chocolate square (especially infused with spices, herbs, and fruit) is convenient, quick, and it works. So whether you have a test or a mental task to tend to , wouldn't it be fun to enjoy something that is good for you as well as tastes superb?
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Chocolate recipes, from breakfast muffins, cocoa pasta, fudge and lava cake, can help zap mood swings.
Why You'll Like It: Not only will youg get a serotonin boost (a hormone that may be lacking often during cold, dark winter days), but the monounsaturated fat from both chocolate and olive oil (used in baked goods with chocolate) may help lift your spirits so you'll not be such a crab.
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Try a half-cup serving of Mexican or Sicilian mole, complete with spices, such as cayenne, chili paired with antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting onions, garlic--and chocolate. Serve over whole-wheat pasta or brown rice. Note: Dark chocolate infused with chili spice is a treat that will suffice, too.
Why You'll Like It: Hot spices help unblock sinuses. Hot foods stimulate nasal secretions and loosen up unwanted muscus.
7 SLUGGISH (Athletic lack of energy)
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Drink a cup of brewed coffee mocha before you perform your physical performance.
Why You'll Like It: Athletes are all too familiar with the energetic buzz linked to the properties of quality chocolate and java. Not only does it enhance energy, but it also curbs distracting hunger pangs before participating in a physical event. And yes, brewed coffee contains caffeine (about 85 milligrams pwer 8-ounce mug), much more than chocolate (1 ounce of semi-sweet dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams of caffeine).
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Put chocolate bars, unsweetened cocoa powders, pistoles, and enhanced healthy chocolate cookies in an airtight container, and store these chocolate lifesavers with your emergency supplies.
Why You'll Like It: If you are waiting for a tornado to hit or miss, having chocolate can uplift your spirits, calm your nerves, and keep your mind alert. If disaster hits, such as an earthquake or flood to power outage, chocolate in easy to eat form will be a godsend as you cope with the disaster or rejoice that you got through it.
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Both morning and night, drink an 8-ounce glass or cup of dark chocolate with a 70 percent cocoa content and/or try chocolate fondue with fresh fruits--strawberries and apples. Team this with drinking six to eight glasses of water, and fresh vegetables or juices. Plus, take a multivitamin mineral supplement.
Why You'll Like It: This chocolate and bloat-busting fresh produce/water cure boasts an all-natural diuretic effect. You can follow this remedy for one or two days and this will help your cells release retained water.
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Run, do not walk, to your nearest health spa and order a pampering, youth-boosting antiaging treatment, such as a chocolate bubble bath.
Why You'll Like It: Pampering your body also takes care of your spirit. Plus, the Bella Lucce Chocolate in a spa bath includes anti-aging antioxidants so your skin will feel smooth and rejuvenated to the touch. Or you can use the chocolate beauty treatment in the comfort of your home. No matter what age you are, this is a healthful and soothing trick to feed your senses and ageless soul.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chocolate Power, Timeless Book Sweetens World

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
* * *
One year ago, my fave book The Healing Powers of Chocolate made its debut in the world--just in the nick of time for Valentine's Day and American Heart Health Month. But chocolate power is not just for February, it's a superfood that's still touted for its healing merits year-round...
The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010) has been recognized by a wide variety of media, including prestigious book clubs (such as The Good Cook Book Club and One Spirit Book Club), magazines, newspapers, and I've chatted chocolate on many national talk shows. What's more, the good for you food has proven to keep its place in the health world. In other words, chocolate--especially the dark stuff with its feel-good-compounds is as good for you today as it was last year this time.
Drawing on the latest scientific research as well as interviews with medical doctors and chocolatiers, my book reveals how to live longer and healthier while indulging in one of nature's most decadent and versatile foods. I explored real chocolate (infused with fruits, herbs, and spices). I included heart-healthy recipes created by pro-chefs, plus home cures that combat everything from seasonal affective disorder to stress. I also share rejuvenating beauty and anti-aging spa treatments--all made with antioxidant-rich chocolate!
Since one year ago, this unique chocolate book was chosen as Complete Woman Magazine's Editor's Fave pick; touted in the new Elegant Living Magazine; praised in Energy Times Magazine and msn health and fitness, talked about on a number of radio stations, including What's Cookin', Tom Roten, KSFO, and Canada's X-Zone. What's more, the one-of-a-kind chocolate book with a long shelf life has been picked up for translation rights by three publishers in Brazil, Czech, and Saudia Arabia.

The bottom line: The HEALING POWERS series (The Healing Powers of Honey will be released October, 2011) sweetens up the world with The Healing Powers of Chocolate, much like its sister books The Healing Powers of Vinegar and The Healing Powers of Olive Oil. As we edge closer to romantic Valentine's Day and Heart Health Month (chocolate is a must-have for both events), a copy of The Healing Powers of Chocolate--or the trilogy--may sweeten up your world, too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

S.F. Bay Area Shakes It Up, Cal's Quake Cake Rx

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Last month the West Coast was getting slammed with snow and rain. This month we're getting our share of earthquakes at San Juan Bautista, Central California and people are reporting feeling the tremors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area--my home. I still have an uncanny connection to my roots, San Jose, where I grew up and went to SFSU. (I even took an earthquake class and on a field trip we visited San Juan Bautista). Before and after I survived the 6.2 Morgan Hill temblor while living in Santa Cruz Mountains; and the Loma Prieta 15 second shaker that rocked my San Carlos bungalow on the peninsula--and thousands of people--in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.
Actually, the earthquakes south of the South Bay are no surprise to me (or to my fellow quake sensitives at Earthquakeepi-center forums--both two-leggers and four-leggers are on top of the seismic activity). On the radio and in print media--I predicted this may happen in 2011. Sure, in the past week, a 4.1 (epi at Seven Trees, north of San Juan Bautista), a 4.5, 3.7, and 3.9 and a bunch of smaller shakers are not a 6.0 (as I forecasted in Oracle 20/20 Magazine, January issue; page 23, Earth Changes column)--but the year is still young.
As a native Californian earthquakes are nothing new to me. And back in April 2008, Gemma Sciabica, olive oil guru and cookbook author, whipped up an Earthquake Cake for me (and she sent me chocolate biscotti) so I could deal with our hundreds of quakes here in the Reno-Tahoe region. Caveat: Dark chocolate can help soothe rattled nerves and high anxiety when Mother Nature makes moves. Chocolate (in many forms) is the 21st century nature's finest remedy for coping with earthquakes. (It used to be popcorn.)
So, I'd like to share Gemma's recipe--straight from my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010)--purchased by the Good Cook Book Club, One Spirit Book Club, Crafters, Mystery Guild, and translated in three languages so far.

* * *
Cal's Earthquake Cake
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup dark cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Sciabica's or Marsala Olive Oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon Danish pastry extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raspberry-creame filled chocolate squares (chop)
1 large banana, mashed

Cheese Filling

1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease well or use cooking spray in a 10-inch bundt tube pan. In mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients together, make well in center. Pour in buttermilk, olive oil, eggs, and flavorings. Stir until smooth. Add chocolate pieces. Pour half the cake batter into prepared pan. Spoon the filling mixture evenly over the layer of batter. Carefully pour second half of batter over the filling. Bake 55 or 60 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center. Cool cake on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before glazing. Glaze as desired, or, may be sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Serves 12.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gotta Headache...Chocolate, Anyone?

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

It's the beginning of the New Year 2011--and already strange sci-fi film-like happenings on our planet are in the works. Blizzards, "biblical" floods, and earthquakes. Dead birds (too many), lifeless fish (thousands) in Arkansas--one of the seven states in the New Madrid Seismic Zone are freaking me out. So, what's next?

I was asked just that this morning at the crack of dawn; Ms. Nightowl was a guest on The Mancow Show, a live syndicated radio show in the Midwest. In a 10 minute time frame I dished out my perspective on our global wacky weather. Then, I was asked to switch gears to a prediction. I spoke my mind ASAP (right brain) and said I sensed a Midwest shaker may hit this year. Translation: The New Madrid Seismic Zone is ripe for a strong earthquake. But after I tossed out the forecast there was dead air. Bumper music came on loud and clear. The interview was over. On the upside, the producer told me that the segment would run a few times that day (maybe he was thankful for the warning).
So, was my prediction too far out, too bold, too scary? Or maybe it hit too close to home in the Midwest. Did I shake up more than less listeners? (Gee, on April 18, 2008 a 5.2-5.4 rocked Illinois and 40,000 folks reported the quake to the USGS. Not to forget the "rare" 3.8 shaker in Indiana the other day that moved 10,000 residents.) I wasn't being "evil"--it was just a head's up from the "quake sensitive".
Meanwhile, in Arkansas (a place where the great 1811 quake make the Mississippi flow in a different direction) Stephen King-type fictional happenings are happening. Thousands of blackbirds falling from the sky are making the news today to 500 small quakes since September 20 is enough to shake up anyone on the West Coast, East Coast or Midwest. I sense a tension or earthquake headache coming on. Perhaps we native Californians living on shaky ground do earthquakes better than Midwesterners.
* * *
I'm sensing it's time for chocolate. In my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), I address the chocolate cure for headaches.
Headache While we all get sick, many of us get headaches now and then, too. While effective drug therapy has revolutionized treatment for migraines, some people may be wary of potential side effects. Stress and tension can cause many headaches, possibly lowering your magnesium level.
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Try a small square of dark chocolate--once or twice a day. Team this with remedy with aerobic exercise. It my relieve the effects of stress. Plus, chocolate also releases some endorphins in your brain--so-called runner's high.
Why You'll Like It: Chocolate is rich in magnesium, an antistress mineral that helps relax smooth muscles of blood vessels, which lowers the risk of headaches. Also, it works on brain chemicals to block pain messages--and that may help chase your headache(s) away.

So, it's to the treadmill--and chocolate. You can't control stressful events and Mother Nature, but you can control your own behavior during unpredictable times, like these. And yes, with the mystery die-off of birds and fish--and quakes--dark chocolate can help keep headaches away.