Does chocolate have any health benefits?

Because chocolate is so good to eat, we assume that like the other foods we enjoy, chocolate couldn’t be very good for us. Wrong. Research over the last so many years has discovered that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has major health benefits in several areas. We often tend not to remember the chocolate is essentially a plant-based food.

Debra Miller, a chocolate expert with the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition, says “The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa beans – the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree, Because of modern manufacturing and the common form of the ‘chocolate bar’, most people today don’t associate chocolate with its natural beginnings, but chocolate is essentially food of the earth.”

Chocolates are packed full of chemicals called anti-oxidants which promote good health and recent studies show that the compounds can reduce the risk of many diseases from cancer to heart ailments. In fact, pound for pound, chocolates and cocoa pack more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. Your body can be damaged by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals which are thought to be the cause of many diseases. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals.

In addition to the antioxidants that contribute to your general good health, many scientists believe that chocolate also specifically contributes to the health of your heart and your cardiovascular system. The health of your cardiovascular system and in particular your heart depends on the free and efficient flow of blood through arteries that have no blockage. The natural chemicals that are present in chocolate and cocoa may contribute to this process by reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow. Dr David Katz of Yale University, who conducted a study of the effect of chocolate on cardiovascular health in 2005, has this to say “This clearly suggests that dark chocolate isn’t just good; it’s good for you.”


Magical Coconut Bars

Vegan Coconut Bars

This recipe comes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the Post Punk Kitchen who has a new vegan cookbook out; Vegan With a Vengence which features 150 vegan recipes including desserts, cookies, main dishes and snacks.

These look amazing to me and I am anxious to try this recipe.

Recipe courtesy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz

These bars require a good overnight chilling to really firm them up before slicing, so plan accordingly.

Tip: You’ll want to use only sweetened, fluffy white flaked coconut for these. Save the natural shredded stuff for a healthy curry.

Tip: Press the graham cracker crumb crust like crazy into the pan; the more you pat it down the firmer the resulting crust will be.


One 14 oz can (regular or lite) coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped


In a large saucepan whisk together coconut milk and brown sugar over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mixture may form a thin skin on the surface; just stir it back into the liquid. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine and sugar; mix well to moisten crumbs completely. Firmly press mixture into prepared pan, pressing evenly from center to sides of pan.

Pour warm coconut milk mixture evenly over crumb base. Top with an even layer of chocolate chips, flaked coconut and nuts, in that order. Firmly pat everything down until coconut milk mixture soaks upward into the toppings. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until coconut is deeply golden and filling is bubbling, remove from oven and let entire pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Transfer pan to the refrigerator to completely cool and firm up for at least 4 hours, even better overnight or until very firm. Use a sharp, heavy knife to run along the edges of bars, slide bars on parchment paper out of pan onto a cutting board then to slice into 24 squares.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. These also freeze well, tightly wrapped and allowed to thaw for 20 minutes before serving.


I Love Lilly’s!

chocolates and beers PD

This is my new favorite place to be.

lillys PD

Leave it to my bff M to make a fantastic discovery. Still shopping for furniture, which is fine with me because it leads to so much fun and mischief!

Lilly’s offers a superior selection of wine, beer and liquors. The specialty chocolates are amazing and made by hand at Lilly’s.

lilly's PD

They offer pairings of beers and chocolates including Lambic Framboise with raspberry dark chocolate and Hitachino Nest West Ginger beer with peanut butter, kaffir, lime leaves, srirancha, white chocolate.


Truly sophisticated and fashion forward, Lilly’s is a true gem in Tremont and everywhere!


Order on line and treat yourself to something extraordinary.


Ode to Betty


This page of my Betty Crocker cookbook, which my mother gave to me when I was in college, is ridiculous! It is covered in crusty splotches and is unreadable in spots due to dried cake batter and greasy spots from butter spills.

Although I‘ve had this book for more than 20 years it is only within the last 10 or so that I have grown to truly appreciate the beauty and simplicity of “Betty”.

As a budding gourmand in college this book was a guide to cooking basics and old standbys. Basic cakes and bread recipes taught me techniques that would serve me well into the future. I learned how to truss chickens and beef roasts. I learned how to blanch stuff.

The biggest bang was this Banana-nut Bread. Everyone loves it. Some like it cold, some like it hot. I often make this for gifts at holiday time.

I have adapted this recipe over the years and experimented with healthful whole grain ingredients, and turbinado sugar. I’ve tried vegan versions and lo-cal substitutions. The best recipe is the one which I will present here and it seems to be everyone’s favorite. It is basically Betty Crocker’s recipe with a few minor tweaks which have made this perfect for my 2 loaf pan preparation. I have created a highly portable Banana Bread type treat which can be toasted and carried on the way to school or eaten cold with a cup of coffee or a glass of ice cold milk.

Banana-Nut Cake

(Adapted from Betty Crocker)

2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar ( I sometime use turbinado which can add moisture so I then add 2 tbs flour)
5-6 medium sized mushy bananas
2/3 cup finely chopped nuts
½ cup butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips ( or your desire)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 8 ½” x 4 ½” x 2 ¾” loaf pans.

Mix eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and butter until creamy. Sift together dry ingredients, add chocolate chips and slowly add to the wet mixture. (Hand held mixer produces the best result) Beat on high speed for 3 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl. Pour into pans.

Bake until wooden pick comes out dry, about 40-45 minutes.

Remove from pans immediately and allow to cool on cooling rack.
I like to wrap mine in aluminum foil at once and place in the fridge. This ensures that the loaves are moist and delicious!


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