Wednesday, January 27, 2016

National Chocolate Cake Day Should be Year-Round

Diary of a Chocolate Goddess

[Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Chocolate]

By Cal Orey

By 10 a.m., both Seth and Simon, my Brittanys, are dropped off at my vet-kennel for the day while Mom gets to enjoy a four-star, all-day chocolate treat. My younger sibling Bruce and I are driving from South Lake Tahoe to Reno — a chocolate lover's haven.

Siena Hotel Spa Casino

First stop: Siena Hotel Spa Casino. Next to the Truckee River, Siena is meant to mimic the Tuscany countryside, complete with chocolate beauty treatments. I have no clue as to what this chocolate bath and chocolate manicure will be like, but I am both anxious and excited.

One hour later: Spa director Jamie Bell is waiting for me — and immediately I feel like royalty. I am led inside a cozy private room. Ah, the chocolate aroma. As Jamie opens the door I am greeted by an oversized bear-claw Jacuzzi-style bathtub full of bubbling water (140 jets!), with organic Chocolate Silk Bath Bubbles with a chocolate scent. I am here for the Chocolate Silk Hydrotherapy Bath.

The lights are dim (the way I like it). Scented chocolate candles and New Age music permeates the air as I'm shown bottled water, and two handmade truffles by the hotel's chef. I am given a white robe and thongs, and told to enjoy 30 minutes.

Like a giddy kid I dip my foot into the warm, swirling water and am elated by the ambiance of it all. I inch my body into the chocolate bath. I cannot believe I am soaking in a bubbly tub (the white bubbles literally overflowing onto the floor) with a chocolate aroma that seems to be making my skin feel soft, silky, and alive. I eat one truffle, light and chocolatey. I never want to leave this place of chocolate bliss.

Thirty minutes later: I am out of the tub, dressed, and off to the get a chocolate manicure. I sit down with my manicurist and there is a tall chocolate milk shake awaiting me.

Valerie Brown, my manicurist, removes my clear nail polish and shapes my nails. Then, she soaks my two mountain-woman hands (weathered from swimming in pool chlorine and bringing in firewood) in a Peruvian chocolate syrup to loosen the cuticle. Then, she covers my hands with a chocolate-strawberry masque to rehydrate my hands, followed by a light massage with chocolate butter.

I am hoping and believing that this silky chocolate crème full of natural ingredients like organic Theobroma cacao and fruit extracts will work to make my hands and nails look beautiful. The French manicure polish looks nice. Next stop is minutes away ...

The Chocolate Bar

We arrive at a hot spot touted in Reno to be a trendy bar-café for the younger set. The atmosphere at The Chocolate Bar doesn't boast plants or fish aquariums — I get that chocolate is alive and the focus. Chocolate-brown floors and a chocolate cocktail bar are part of the scene.

I decide to let the waitress decide for us. Chocolate Lava Cake is described on the menu as “rich chocolate cake filled with molten chocolate center served with vanilla ice cream.” And yes, this desert is delightful. Is this café worth the visit? If you like chocolate, yes, yes, yes.

See's  Candies

Our next stop: See's at Meadowood Mall in Reno. We are greeted by the friendly store manager, who fills a bag full of an assortment of dark chocolates and dark truffles. I am surprised to see a Premium Extra Dark Chocolate Bar, which is made with 62 percent cocoa. (Note to self: Ask a chocolatier to infuse healthful ingredients to mimic See's Key Lime Truffle.)

On the way home I think to myself, “How can I get a chocolate Jacuzzi bath on the South Shore?” Sure, I swim and take a hot tub several times a week at a resort spa, but it doesn't have chocolate.

We pick up the Brittanys, and by six o'clock we are back home in Bijou Pines.

When I walk up to the doorstep I see a big cardboard box with the label Ghirardelli Chocolate.

I feel like a goddess who has died and gone to chocolate heaven.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Soup's On! Fresh Soup with EVVO+

Soup’s On!
Dip a warm bread slice into EVVO

Winter around the Lake is a perfect time for hearty vegetable soup. Think plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables and stock for a chunky semi-homemade soup. Garlic and onions, carrots and celery—and tomatoes—with  plenty of whole grain pasta can make your pot of soup on the stove top a crowd pleaser in the kitchen and comfort food in your bowl on the table for lunch or dinner.
This season Mr. Cold has not paid a visit. To keep him at bay I will continue to get 7.5 hours a night sleep, fortified orange juice, herbal teas—and vegetable soup that help keep the aches and sniffling at bay. Using garlic and onion paired with lots of veggies put into a big pot with organic store bought broth is amazing. Not only is it easy, the aroma in the home is sublime.

More rustic clean food recipes in
The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated

Fresh Chunky Vegetable Soup

  •  1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil or European style butter
  • ¼ cup yellow onion,
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) organic vegetable broth
  • 2 cups mixed fresh vegetables, chopped (broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, green bell pepper, jicama, radish)
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked whole grain rotini
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (garnish)

In a skillet, heat olive oil or butter over medium heat, add onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes. Pour into a large pot. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add vegetables. Bring to a boil again then put on low heat. In another pot boil pasta for several minutes until cooked. Add pasta and tomatoes to vegetable mixture.  Stir in spinach.  Simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve hot sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and slices of warm whole grain bread and butter. Serves 6. *If you freeze this soup leave out pasta and add freshly cooked when dishing it up.

I love this soup—when I’m well (I froze some in case I get a cold this winter). Not only is it easy to put it together, it’s easy on the eyes and palate. It’s also the time to blast soup myths: You can use fresh tomatoes; forget canned goods. Some folks say broccoli and spinach in your soup can create a bitter taste—there is none left so I disagree. Follow the store bought broth box directions and do not dilute. Add any of your favorite herbs for extra flavor. Making semi-homemade soup can be whipped up and dished up in less than 30 minutes. It’s not your mom’s soup—it’s fresh and with your stamp on it for the 21st century.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Here It Comes! The 1st Book That Started the Healing Powers Series!

The book that launched the Healing Powers series!

On August 30, 2016  it will be released! Yes, the 3rd edition of The Healing Powers of Vinegar, Revised and Updated is in production. Penned back in 1999, this book took off and found its legs. It ignited the Healing Powers series.

The Healing Powers of Vinegar,
Page 14 (click here)

From Folk Medicine to 21st Century Favorite—Discover the Amazing Powers of Vinegar!

Revised and updated, this comprehensive book draws on the latest scientific studies and interviews with top health researchers to reveal how apple cider and red wine vinegars—as well as balsamic, fruit, rice, and herb-infused vinegars—can help you stay healthy. Often partnered with olive oil, a key ingredient in the heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet, vinegar is the basis for easy, tasty, rustic recipes—including favorites of health spa chefs. You’ll also find proven home health cures, innovative cosmetic secrets, lively anecdotes, and environmentally friendly household hints—from making countertops sparkle to cleaning up kids and pets.
*Take advantage of vinegar’s natural therapeutic, antioxidant, and culinary virtues as this 5,000-year-old healer evolves in new uses and products—from sipping vinegars to home-cooked foods.

* Learn how vinegar helps lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and bone loss.

*Discover how vinegar’s acetic acid kills bacteria, and may help prevent tuberculosis and combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

* Use red wine vinegar to enjoy the same important antioxidants as red wine—without the alcohol.

*Pair vinegar with healthful oils to ease anxiety, boost brain power, enhance energy, and aid digestion.

* Create home cures to treat allergies, arthritis, toothache, sunburn, swimmer’s ear, sore throat, and other pesky ailments.

…and discover much more in this invaluable resource to help you slim down, shape up, and enhance longevity!

“Vinegar is right there in your cupboard—waiting for you to open its health properties for you and your family. Cal Orey’s book can show you how.”
– Dr. Will Clower, CEO Mediterranean Wellness
Perfect Pairing: Vinegar and Oil
Both Revised







Cal Orey, M.A., is an accomplished author and journalist. She has a master’s degree in English from San Francisco State University, and for three decades has written hundreds of articles for national and international magazines. She specializes in topics such as health, beauty, nutrition, relationships, science, and pets. Her books include The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, The Healing Powers of Coffee, The Healing Powers of Honey, The Healing Powers of Chocolate, The Healing Powers of Vinegar202 Pets’ Peeves, and Doctors’ Orders. She lives in northern California. Readers are invited to visit her website at, read her blog The Writing Gourmet at, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

My First Olive Oil Experience

My real-life first olive oil experience is when I was a simple, food-loving kid who loved different places and different people. Did I enjoy different foods? Not so much because my Westernized palate wasn’t worldly. One rainy Christmas Eve, my parents took me to a modest San Jose, California red apartment two-story complex we used to live at before moving to the fifties’ “Family Knows Best”-type house in the suburbs...

Olive Oil book available at
fine bookstores online and stores
At the old red complex to visit former neighbors, I knocked on Florence’s upstairs front door. A short, plump, elderly gray-haired Italian lady greeted us—damp and cold—with a hug and genuine smile. I liked her and her kitchen filled with sweet and savory smells. After all, she baked cookies and breads. I sipped hot cocoa topped with miniature marshmallows and sat huddled up to the warm stove. The kitchen table was cluttered with dozens of cans and bottles of oils and fats.

Biscotti made with EVOO works!
Florence offered me a cookie from a tin box. I asked, “Which ones should I choose?” She answered, “The long cookies with almonds—biscotti.” She told me the oblong-shaped biscuit, twice-baked, was from Italy.  I dipped it into my cocoa; she put hers in black tea. The woman whispered while pointing to a dark colored bottle on the table, “Olive oil makes cookies moist,” she said adding, “my secret ingredient.” I believed her. She gave me the box filled with layers of different edible gems including Neapolitan, Pumpkin and Spumoni. It was a memorable special gift...

Speaking of treasured presents, this recipe (perfect for a cold winter night) was provided for The Healing Powers of Olive Oil and is a fine one that I cherish and want to share with you.

Tender Focaccia
* * *
This focaccia, whose crumb is softened by the addition of both potato flour and dry milk, is ideal for slicing and turning into sandwiches.

2 cups (16 ounces) boiling water                               2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
3 ¾ cups (16 ounces) unbleached all-                        1 ½ teaspoons salt
purpose flour                                                               2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) olive oil, plus
¼ cup (1 ½ ounces) potato flour, or                           2 to 3 tablespoons to grease the pan and
1/3 (3/4 ounce) potato flakes                                      the surface of the dough
¼ cup (1 ¼ ounces) nonfat dry milk                           ¼ to ½ teaspoon kosher salt, sea salt, or
                                                                                    Fleur de Sel, for topping

Put the hot water and 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl and beat for several minutes to develop a smooth flour. If you have the time, add 1/8 teaspoon yeast once the batter has cooked to lukewarm, and set the sponge aside for several hours or overnight; this helps develop flavor in the finished loaf, as well as the soft interior texture.
Whisk the potato flour with the remaining flour, dry milk, yeast, and salt. Add this to the batter a little at a time, while continuing to beat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Beat, by hand with a large spoon or with the paddle attachment of a mixer set at medium speed, for 8 to 10 minutes, changing to a dough hook when the dough begins to hold together.
After the dough has become smooth and shiny, put it in an oiled bowl, cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 30 minutes. The dough should have increased by about one third and be puffy-looking. Don’t punch down the dough, but pull the sides of the dough up and over in a folding motion. Do this several times to release some of the gas, then let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 12- or 14-inch round pan, or 1 tablespoon olive oil into each of two 8-inch round pans. Place the dough in the oiled pan(s), gently stretching it to fit. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, then stretch it out a little more. At this point you may refrigerate the dough in the pan(s), tightly covered, for up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Just before baking the focaccia, dimple it with your fingers, brush it with little olive oil, and sprinkle it with coarse salt or a few sprigs of fresh herb. Bake the focaccia for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s deep brown all over. Remove it from the pan(s) and cool it for 15 minutes before eating. Serve with flavored olive oil, or split for sandwiches. Two 8-inch round or one 12-to 14 inch round focaccia, 12 servings. 
(Courtesy: Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook.)

SPECIAL NOTE: Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated (published by Kensington). Dedicated to my mother in parent heaven; her birthday was yesterday January 14. I sense she would be proud of my Healing Powers series and that The Healing Powers of Vinegar was ranked #1 in Healthy Cooking on amazon in December and Health on kobobooks; in January The Healing Powers of Honey ranked #3 in Nutrition on kobobooks. And the 3rd edition of VINEGAR will be released this summer.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Super Tremors in Yellowstone? Yikes!

By Cal Orey

Yellowstone Tremors, Past, Present, Future
Tonight I'll make a cameo appearance as a News Segment Guest on Coast to Coast AM. Topic? Will Yellowstone blow and will the U.S. be toast? It seems scientists are dishing about a sooner than later potential global doomsday sci-fi scenario of an overdue supervolcanic eruption like one that happened 2 million years ago. Researchers says a "massive eruption" could hit in the near future...

But as an intuitive this disaster isn't on the top of my "what if" phobia list. I fear a trigger effect of a great quake-tsunami on the West Coast (Greater Los Angeles 4.4 yesterday; King 25 foot waves and erosion of the California coast.  Offshore NorCal--two minor/moderate quakes hit in the past week); or New Madrid Zone/Deep South flooding. I see water, water, water--not fire.

* SCIENTISTS have warned the world that it's is in "volcano season "November-April and there is up to a 10% chance of an eruption soon killing millions of people and devastating the planet.

* According to the USGS website: Although it is possible, scientists are not convinced that there will ever be another catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone.

* Given Yellowstone’s past history, the yearly probability of another caldera-forming eruption could be calculated as 1 in 730,000 . This probability is roughly similar to that of a large (1 kilometer) asteroid hitting the Earth.

* But wait, did you know heavy rain and/or snowfall may trigger volcanic activity (think Hawaii). Let's hope NOOA is right and Wyoming (the land of Yellowstone National Park) will stay dry and El Nino won't go East and stir up Yellowstone tremors.

* Tonight and tomorrow, sleep easy, though. Odds are higher for a great California earthquake to happen first...but then, it could trigger Yellowstone as it did in the film.  Or not.

* But if you want to check out more about a possible doomsday happening--walk don't run to this article noting some gloom and doom scenes.

Yellowstone Caldera at Its Extreme
Keep in mind, it has had signs of past volcanism and super tremors. In fact, in 2002 after Alaska was rocked by a 7.9 earthquake, hundreds of quakes followed in less than a day.  Scientists believe events, like earthquakes and volcanoes, can be linked by a trigger effect. On the big screen, the film “2012” depicts a Southern California Malibu earthquake happens first while strange happenings are already ongoing at Yellowstone, which blows big and bright with surreal effects right after the shaker. In real life this scenario doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

Worse, some geologists believe if a supervolcano happens it will not be another mega-eruption of mid-Pleistocene time. However, if and if Yellowstone blows we can expect grave consequences. Anyone living in the immediate region would be buried in ash and burned by fire and life would cease. As the ash fallout spreads, from state to state, it would affect airline flights, animal food and crops, and result in a volcanic winter—no sun and temperatures would drop drastically. The United States as we know it would be gravely affected for a long time.