Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate – An Aphrodisiac and a Health Food!

It is Christmas!  Bring on my Dessert! – And let it be Rich Dark Chocolate… I need my Cocoa Cravings Fix. Fixed…

While sitting on the office chair on a Friday afternoon piled with work that you dont wish you had , the thought of an awaiting weekend, with a glass of your choice beverage is definitely a good feeling.

Similarly, exploring dessert options post any elaborate course of meal, again, is a purposeful wait. So how about coupling the last few relaxed weekends left in 2011 with a feast of a divine dessert and a drink that is GOOD for you ?

1000 times more powerful than Green Tea as an Antioxidant Food! Raw cocoa beans contain over 300 chemically identifiable compounds – This makes cocoa one of the most complex food substances on Earth!
Anandamide (a neurotransmitter known as “the bliss chemical”) Arginine (nature’s aphrodisiac) Dopamine (a neurotransmitter) Epicatechins (antioxidants) Magnesium (for healthy heart function) Serotonin (anti-stress neurotransmitter) Tryptophan (anti-depressant amino acid) Phenylethylamine (PEA) (controls the ability to focus attention and stay alert) Polyphenols (antioxidants)


One tablespoon of of this a day.. gets you all the above and more. It’s great stuff. It’s a great substitute for a coffee lift during the day…. Buy this here :  Delicious Drinking Chocolates

In central and southern Mexico, people commonly drink chocolate twice a day year-round. Having a layer of foam on hot chocolate is as important today in Mexico as it was in ancient times. Mexicans believe the spirit of the drink is in the foam. The chocolate is whipped to a froth with a carved wooden utensil called a Molinillo and served in mugs.

And I  thought it would be sweet to explore the zillion ways to exploit chocolate’s popularity and once there decided why stop with just the health benefits of cocoa ?

So here is a CAKE for you… This is heavenly…and yes it is a Dessert.

 DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE with BELGIUM ALE   
Magnifique! Sensory extravaganza in every detail.. Devil’s food refers to a dark, dense, chocolate concoction that is usually baked.  It is so named because since it is so rich and delicious it must be “sinful.” Devil’s food usually has a greater proportion of chocolate than regular chocolate cake. This recipe comes from Lynne Kaplan, a chef who owns the Victoria House Bed & Breakfast in Spring Lake, NJ.

  • 8 oz unsalted butter plus extra for greasing pans
  • 3 oz. unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder plus some for dusting pan
  • 11 oz. dark Belgium ale (or amber ale or dark beer)
  • 12 oz. unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 and a quarter tsp. baking soda
  • 16 oz. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz. buttermilk

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8-inch cake pans with butter. Cut two circles of parchment paper to fit the bottoms of the pans. Grease the parchment with butter and dust the pans with cocoa powder.
Place the ale in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa, stirring until it dissolves and becomes smooth and creamy. Let cool to room temperature.  Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda, and set aside. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one.  Add the ale/cocoa mixture and blend well.

Alternately, blend in the flour mixture and buttermilk, (start with the flour mixture and end with the flour mixture in 3 additions).  Pour into prepared pans and bake until cake tester comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool the cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes, then invert on racks and cool completely. Frost with ale frosting.


ALE CHOCOLATE FROSTING

  • 6 oz. dark Belgium ale
  • 1 oz Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 24 oz. confectioners’ sugar

Chocolate shavings from a dark chocolate candy bar for garnish

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cocoa & Chocolate. Hot & Cold Drinks. Add Alcohol Anybody?

The cocoa bean is one of the most exquisite beans of the world. As a fine aromatic bean, its full-bodied flavor and a floral aroma are some of its delectable qualities. Winter is the best season to experiment with both chocolate and cocoa – Hot and Cold, Alcoholic and Non Alcoholic. Organic Dark Cocoa with our without alcohol is still brilliant as a health food.
Read on for recipes and more..

The Maya harvested the cacoa crops and then they roasted them sometime in the late 1300. Those crops were the very first fresh cacao beans we now know that humans ate. The Aztecs adopted cacao. By 1400, the Aztec empire ruled a part of Mesoamerica. The Aztecs also had bitter chocolate drinks, that we now know were the very first ‘Chocolate Drinks”. The chocolate was bitter because sugar was not owned by the Mesoamericans during the time of when cacao was discovered. Drinking chocolate beverages was an important part of Maya and Aztec life.
  • Here is a really great place to buy your Cocoa this winter… eSutras Organics 
    Don’t forget to use 
    ESAB to get 20% OFF on your purchase… 
However it was not long later, when we discover – cacoa was fermented or made alcoholic !! In the Mayan society, the royal people would drink the chocolate beverages during specials events while the “regular” people barely drank any because it was to expensive. This seems to reflect the early history of cacao serving and drinking in ceremonies that took place at celebrations of marriages, births, and other occasions created by social ties.

Chemical analyses of residues extracted from pottery vessels from Puerto Escondido in what is now Honduras show that cacao beverages were being made there before 1000 B.C., extending the confirmed use of cacao back at least 500 years earlier than we thought. The famous chocolate beverage served on special occasions in later times in Mesoamerica, especially by elites, was made from fermented cacao seeds. The earliest cacao beverages consumed at Puerto Escondido were likely produced by fermenting the sweet pulp surrounding the seeds.

The distinctive Mesoamerican style of cacao preparation involved fermenting cacao seeds (or “beans”), drying them, optionally toasting them, grinding them, and mixing them with water in a thick bitter suspension. Invading Europeans came to appreciate this beverage (chocolatl in the language of the Aztecs), giving rise to the modern chocolate industry.

 Europeans took the secret of chocolate making to their own countries (Spain was first); it was Europeans who first sweetened chocolate and flavored it in ways that appeal to our modern palates. Since then, chocolate making has been an important part of the cultures of many of these European countries — obviously, the Swiss, the Belgians and the French, but also the Germans and Italians, to some extent. It is a matter of tradition and culture, but also of finance, and probably some secret techniques in blending, roasting, etc.

This may explain why the world still regards chocolate as a luxury food, and why chocolate is scarce in Asia. But hey – winter is round the corner, fire up the fire place and snuggle with these delicious treats…

Irish Tumbler
 1 oz Irish cream 1 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur amaretto almond liqueur 6 oz hot chocolate Pour kahlua and irish cream into a heatproof cup with hot chocolate. Add amaretto, to taste. Stir, and serve. A delicious taste from the middle of the world right to your hands.

Mexican Coffee
1 oz Tequila 1 oz Kahlua Fill a cup w/ hot coffee. Garnish w/ whipped cream.

Jamaican Coffee
1 oz Light rum 1 oz Tia Maria or kahlua Fill your cup w/ hot coffee. Garnish w/ whipped cream

 After Dinner Mint
1/2 oz White creme de menthe 3/4 oz Peach liqueur 1/2 oz vodka 1 cup hot chocolate drink (make with good organic cocoa) Fill your cup w/ hot chocolate. Garnish w/ whipped cream

Hot Buttered Rum
2 oz Dark rum 1 oz Simple syrup Or 1 tsp Brown sugar 1/2 tablespoon hot cocoa powder. – Pinch of nutmeg – Fill your cup w/ hot water, stir in hot cocoa powder. Garnish w/ cinnamon stick and small floating pat of butter.

Here is a really great place to buy your Cocoa this winter… Cocoa Cravings  Don’t forget to use ESAB to get 20% OFF on your purchase…

Monday, September 26, 2011

Raw Cocoa Nibs, Powder – an Anti Oxidant Powerhouse!

Raw Cocoa Nibs, Powder – an Anti Oxidant Powerhouse!

Cacao Nibs are different and so make different cocoa powder. Mix it with your nut butters for delicious fudge.

I found this exceptionally great  Organic RAW cacao nibs and OrganicRaw dark cocoa powder that contain no sugar and are approximately 45% fat.

(Use the code ESAB – and get 20% off )These beans have been slow roasted and delicately processed at very low low temperature. They have not been ground, pressed, or processed with heavy machinery except for a natural fermentation that occurs under banana leaves. They are certified organic and come from a certified organic farm deep in the Amazon… and as the company representatives say, “we sustain the trees by shade growing this cocoa…

And what amazed we was that they are then are even more careful about the processing methods to get the cocoa powder. These raw cocoa nibs are always kept at a low temperature during the harvest and fermentation process. The temperature of the air under the shade trees (heat is generated during the fermentation process) does not exceed 40° C (106° F). During the 2-3 day fermentation process these beans take on a richer chocolate taste and lose some of their bitterness.

Because of the high humidity under the leaves throughout the fermentation process, the cacao beans, once fermented, must be dried.  This takes another 2-3 days.

The cacao beans are then chopped into nibs. The outer peeling, along with the seed shell, is removed from the inner seed. The result is a delicious cacao nib that does not contain any dairy, sugar, or additives….powdered gently for you to enjoy!


What can I do with raw organic cocoa powder?

  • Use it in place of carob, cacao nibs, or mesquite!
  • Sprinkle it on top of your salad. 
  • Mix it with raw cocoa butter and dip berries in it.
  • Combine it with raw agave nectar or honey for chocolate syrup.
  • Coat your soaked nuts and seeds with it and dehydrate till crisp.
  • Make chocolate candies and bars.
  • Create creamy chocolate ice cream.
  • Make chocolate pudding by blending the powder with avocado…….

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cocoa – it’s sacred, so drink up!

Everybody knows chocolate.  And all those who know it love it. Or maybe, love it a little less, but ‘hate’ it – ah, methinks there are but a few of them around……

Anyway this post, all you lovers and haters - is about two delicious new ways to drink chocolate. That is right folks, I said ‘drink ‘. And like my title says, Cocoa is sacred – so what better way to bring some sacredness into your lives?

The cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, originated in South America, and its beans consumed as a drink by the Mayans and Aztecs. It was introduced to Spain by Hernan Cort├ęs in1528. After the addition of sugar, the drink became popular and Spain set up cocoa plantations in its West Indies colonies to meet demand.
Colmenero de Ledesma (1631) reported that cacao preserved consumers’ health, made them corpulent, improved their complexions, and made their dispositions more agreeable. He wrote that drinking chocolate incited love-making, led to conception in women, and facilitated delivery. He also claimed that chocolate aided digestion and cured tuberculosis.

Enough said. Onto my chocolate drinks.

Hershey and Nestle  made ‘hot chocolate’ a household term. There is a difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. The terms are often used interchangeably, but technically they are as different as white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, which is chocolate pressed free of all its richness, meaning the fat of cocoa butter.  Hot chocolate is made from chocolate bars melted into cream. It is a rich decadent drink.

Okay first the Asian version, that I had in a little chocolate den in Hong Kong years ago.


Asian Hot Chocolate - HongKong style
  • 6 ounces fine-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 3 cups hot milk, divided
  • Sugar to taste
  • 2 cardamom pods, 4 clove buds
  • Whipped cream, if desired
In a double boiler over low heat, combine chocolate and 1/4 cup water until melted, stirring occasionally; stir until smooth. Add coarsely ground cardamom and clove buds. Remove top of double boiler pan from. Whisk in 3 tablespoons hot water. Pour into pitcher or divide among individual 4 mugs. Either stir 3/4 cup hot milk into each mug or serve milk in a separate pitcher. Pass sugar and whipped cream in separate bowls; add to taste.

Makes 4 servings. YUM!

Now the African (Caribbean, actually) version I had in the Virgin Islands last Christmas……nice warm cold drink!


African Hot Rum Chocolate
Mmm… frothy and tasty. With its smooth, strong full-bodied taste this drink is popular in the Caribbean, Ghana and also with West African ex-pats in London. Its origins are North African. The rum is a great addition! It makes a great nightcap – a nice way of winding down after a hard day’s work or a special meal.
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 100 g best quality organic dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (also called bitter chocolate as it is produced without sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons clear honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (try to use real extract)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 15 -30 ml dark rum, to taste
Directions:
Pour the milk into a small saucepan then add the chocolate, along with the honey, sugar and cinnamon stick.
Heat and stir gently until the chocolate melts. Add the vanilla and rum.
Remove the cinnamon stick just before serving in two large mugs.
Extra sugar can be added to taste.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beat Cellulite with Cocoa – Proof irrevocable.

Beat Cellulite with Cocoa – Proof irrevocable.

Facts and Fiction on cellulite, here is a quick synopsis:
Cellulite is simply fat. False.
Cellulite is mostly fat that has been damaged and is the result of poor circulation and drainage. Dr Elizabeth Dancey, a London cosmetic medicine practitioner and author of The Cellulite Solution, says women’s fat cells are held in supporting fibres that are not as closely interconnected as men’s and therefore an inactive lifestyle results in the fibres tightening their hold on the fat cells which then leads to that stubborn, ugly dimpling we call cellulite. So do watch your weight and don’t be a slave to your desk or sofa!


Cellulite is hereditaryTrue.
Just as some families are susceptible to certain diseases, the possibility of extreme cellulite being present is no different. But hormones, diet and lifestyle play an important role too, so if your mum and grandmother have or had cellulite, it doesn’t mean to say that you can’t influence it. Therefore, the sooner you take care of yourself, the better.


Cellulite on you means you are overweight.  False.
This is one of the most common myths and can be very frustrating for those people who are not overweight. Over 80 per cent of women in the western world have cellulite to some degree and that includes skinny people and even supermodels (Tyra Banks has admitted to having cellulite).


A healthy diet will prevent cellulite   This is surprising but not true.
Of course, a healthy diet is always a good idea, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t get cellulite at all. ‘We do know that anti-oxidants neutralize free radicals, which are implicated in the cause of cellulite and improve micro-circulation,’ says Dr Dancey. ‘Essential fatty acids, like Omega 3 and 6, are also anti-inflammatory and reduce cells sticking together.’ She advises lots of colored fruit and vegetables, especially broccoli and blueberries, along with fish oil in your diet, while steering clear of junk food and artificial sweetener.


Exercise will smooth out cellulite. True.
Although it won’t get rid of it, as even athletes can have cellulite. The fact that working out improves circulation, removes excess fluid and tones muscles, means that skin will look smoother, regardless of the cellulite. Brisk walking is also good as it improves circulation in the lower body. It’s also easy to incorporate into your daily regime, so get off the bus a stop early and take the stairs instead of the lift occasionally.
Now that we have this under control, let us see what cocoa powder or raw cocoa nibs can do to help control cellulite. Two of the constituents of cocoa and chocolate products are caffeine and Theobromine.
Because of the very mild stimulant effects of cocoa powder, attributable to mixing Theobromine with caffeine, cocoa extracts containing both ingredients have recently entered the market as weight-loss extracts, according to research conducted by Anthony Almada, MS

Another more recent study by a giant in the chocolate industry says extracts from cocoa may block carbohydrate and lipid breakdown in the gut, and aid weight management.“The present study provides the first evidence that cocoa extracts and cocoa procyanidins are potent inhibitors of key enzymes in the digestion of carbohydrates and lipids in vitro, and these inhibitory activities are related to polyphenol content in cocoa extracts,” wrote the authors in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Most of the above benefits in cocoa come from the polyphenols, antioxidants and theobromine. The other active ingredient is caffeine. Caffeine has the following recorded effects on weight:


Appetite suppression. Caffeine may reduce your desire to eat for a brief time, but there’s not enough evidence to show that long-term consumption aids weight loss.


Calorie burning. Caffeine may stimulate thermo-genesis — one way your body generates heat and energy from digesting food. But this probably isn’t enough to produce significant weight loss.


Water loss. In some people, caffeine can act as a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of urine you excrete. This increase in urine output, mostly water loss, may temporarily decrease your body weight, but it doesn’t result in the loss of body fat.

But wait there is more. External application of Cocoa – is a proven remedy for weight loss.


Body brushing is not a miracle cure, but it does seem to help, especially if you improve your dietary habits too. Five minutes of dry body brushing before your bath or shower helps cellulite by getting fluid moving and boosting blood flow. Body brushing is a super-effective way to improve circulation, so that your problem areas look and feel smoother and more streamlined. Body brushing helps our lymphatic drainage system to remove toxins from the body. In so doing, it helps to reduce cellulite in our thighs and buttocks, where fats, proteins and waste products tend to accumulate.


How to brush your body?
Get out an oz or two of cocoa powder (coarsely ground cocoa nibs work excellently well) and  add a tablespoon of coffee grinds. Mix well. Use a loofah or a silk mitt or a simple soft natural bristle brush and remember long strokes. Start at your feet, brushing up your legs and thighs towards the groin. Work in circular movements over the tummy. Your skin may redden and start tingling as the body-brushing increases circulation in areas of greatest fat concentration. Get your circulation and lymphatic system moving, and your skin tone and cellulite are bound to improve…..

Ah, all said and done for me all of the above, indeed make me reach out for that big bag of my organic cocoa poweder or cocoa beans.  How about you?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cocao cravings offer health benefits too….

Cocao cravings offer health benefits too…

Crave Cocoa? Now know the health benefits…

Chocolate and Cocoa are referred to as the most craved food known to man. This being so, I decided to investigate their use as ahealth food both traditionally and today.

They are powerful anti-oxidants and are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage by free radicals, which are formed by numerous processes including when the body’s cells utilize oxygen for energy.

Laboratory and human studies have indicated that cocoa flavonoids can inhibit the oxidation of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL-cholesterol) associated with heart disease.

Best of all, cacao beans, cocoa powder and chocolate contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter which is also produced naturally in the brain. It is known as the “Bliss- amide” , responsible for the satisfaction we feel, when eating chocolate. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies’ ability to breakdown anandamide. This means after eating chocolate, thenatural anandamide and/or the cocoa infused anandamide stays longer in our body making us feel good for a longer period of time.

Now – that you know this, there is no excuse to “not” adding this amazing food into your diet

Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Add cocoa powder to your favorite rubs.
  • Add dark chocolate to homemade mole sauce.
  • Add a touch of cocoa powder to stews, soups or casseroles.
  • Add dark cocoa powder as a garnish on top of desserts.
  • Add cocoa and chocolate to your coffee.
The health benefits of chocolate—particularly dark chocolate, and dark cocoa has been the subject of many health studies of late, and could help draw more consumers to the concept of “healthy indulgence” when it comes time for dessert.

Recently, more and more research has been conducted on the health and nutritional attributes of cocoa and chocolate.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fat, chocolate and weightloss

Fat, chocolate and Weightloss

Sugar, Fat, Salt, Chemistry of your Brain  and Weight Loss
Learn how you can lose weight more easily with or without pills.
Simple weight gain results (outside other medical conditions) from an imbalance between food intake and daily physical activity. Understanding how your body works on the foods you intake is the first step to losing weight.

The first steps to ensuring weight loss would be to “cleanse” or “detox” , your system.

Your body works like a bank for the large part. Put in more than you take out and you will have ‘gains’ – only this time the ‘gains’ are quite prominently displayed around your belly, hips , thighs and or arms. Ugh! We all know that we would gladly let go of those gains!

And yet, if you are like me, a food aficionado then – you are more likely to be eager to learn how to keep your appetite and your weight – working amicably together..

Primary focus on weight loss, scientifically speaking is on the 2 particular lifestyle factors:
  • Increased levels of physical activity (increased metabolism)
  • Reductions in the intakes of fat and sugars… (Decreasing fat stores) or helping increasing metabolism.
Simply put metabolism is the process whereby the body converts food into energy (or uses it for bodily repairs) or stores it as fat for future use. Or, if we have a faster metabolism we burn calories more efficiently and store less fat. If we have a slower metabolism we burn calories less efficiently and therefore store more calories as fat.

The fuel that your body, especially your brain runs on is called glucose, a simple chain sugar. Glucose is what gives the ‘energy ‘of life. Your brain cells need two times more energy than the other cells in your body.

Glucose is the only fuel normally used by brain cells. Because neurons cannot store glucose, they depend on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply of this precious fuel. This is the reason why – the old recommendation – “sit down and “think about it” for a while “is often used before making serious decisions.

Your brain rapidly burns up glucose during high peaks of mental activity and during periods of short periods of stress (physical and emotional).


Therefore, a diet low in fat, but high in carbohydrates, may serve to increase triglyceride levels.
So when you starve yourself, or get into a fitness regimen or are highly stressed that you begin to use more carbohydrates than you need to fuel your body, your brain has an alternate pathway (other than the simple metabolism of carbohydrates as explained above)  to break down fat which can be converted into glucose.


The stored fat is thus converted back into carbohydrate and used as fuel for your body.
Remember too that virtually all naturally occurring fats contain triglycerides (lower in vegetable and higher in animal sources) so a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and fats no matter what the source is will ultimately result in a FAT Gain!


The body breaks down and builds up …. Put Metabolism to work and you will never be fat again!
……..A’isha Bauer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hello from the Chocolate World of Cocoa Cravings!

Hello from the Chocolate World of Cocoa Cravings!

It is Bitter; It is Sweet; It is Dark; It is Delicious:

It is Milky and sometimes It is Salty and Lemony;

But always:It is Tasty, Ah – it feeds your Cocoa Cravings – a rich dark deliciousness that is so Chocolatey.


Chocolate is the most craved food ever, in the history of man. Delicious, decadent and very healthy for you. These pure dark cocoa things are magic for your mind and body. It is the food of the Gods!

Inspired by the passion for chocolate and the power that chocolate holds over us all we are proud to present Cocoa Cravings, a site for Chocolate and Cocoa lovers

You will find here all you want to know about real chocolate and real cocoa, and made as it was supposed to be. Food & drink of the Gods. From, rich dark organic and fairly traded cocoa. Carefully crafted these chocolate creations, will satisfy your deepest Cocoa Cravings and will always be filled with the antioxidants of rich dark shade dried cocoa nibs, the delicious goodness of milk, warm brown sugar and spices, that will actually feed not just your cravings but enhance your health.

According to best-selling nutrition writer, Jean Harper, “nothing protects your health and extends life more than a steady supply of antioxidants to your cells”.

Want do some real chocolate…today… tonight?

You are at the right place. Thank you for dropping into this delicious Cocoa Cravings.…..