Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Valentine’s Day chocolates

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

valentines-dayHappy Valentine’s Day! I don’t know about you, but I can always convince myself that a piece of dark chocolate is not only tasty but good for me. After all, it’s a fine source of antioxidants – right? Yes, but you know the drill when it comes to candy – everything in moderation.

When you’re pregnant you need to be careful to eat a healthy diet. You’ve heard how important it is to take in lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meat and fish. Watch out for the hidden sugar in fruit drinks and sodas. With chocolate, it’s not just the sugar, it’s the fat, too. A little piece once in a while is fine, but try to keep that box at bay for the rest of the day. You don’t want to give your pregnant body any incentive to shift toward gestational diabetes

Most women need around 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy. For example, one healthy snack like four fig bars and a glass of skim milk will provide these extra calories. However, the exact amount of extra calories you need depends on your weight before pregnancy. Talk to your health provider to learn more about a healthy eating plan that’s right for you.

Enjoy that occasional treat – you deserve it! But watch what you eat the rest of the time.

Tis the season to eat chocolate

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

hot-cocoaThe other night The Nutcracker ballet was on television. I settled down to watch it with a fluffy blanket, my tiny Chihuahua on my lap, and a cup of hot cocoa. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I hadn’t had a cup of hot cocoa in soooooo long. I savored every drop and enjoyed the peaceful, seasonal moment. Ahhhh….. bliss.

After the ballet, I went to bed….or so I thought. I was awake til about 1:30am! Could it have been the chocolate from my hot cocoa? And if it had this effect on me, is it ok for pregnant women to have chocolate?

Most people know that coffee and tea and many soft drinks contain caffeine. But, did you know that chocolate contains caffeine, too? The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women (and women who are trying to become pregnant) limit the amount of caffeine that they eat or drink to 200 mg (milligrams) per day. Some studies suggest that larger amounts of caffeine may contribute to fertility problems or miscarriage. The source of the caffeine does not matter; the risk is the same for caffeine from coffee, tea, sodas and other foods and drinks, including chocolate.

Here are some examples of foods or drinks and their caffeine values:*

8 ounce cup of coffee                                95-200 mg
8 ounce cup black tea                                    14-61 mg
8 ounce cup green tea                                  24-40 mg
Sodas                                                                 0 to 55 mg
Energy drinks                                                47-207 mg
1.55 ounce Hershey’s milk chocolate bar    12 mg
9 Hershey kisses                                                      11 mg
8 ounce cup decaffeinated tea                      0-12 mg
8 ounce cup hot cocoa                                     3-13 mg

I am surprised to see how little caffeine is in a cup of hot chocolate…aren’t you? I doubt that my cup of hot cocoa is what kept me up that night. But, then again, I am really sensitive to foods and beverages – a little bit of something can have a big effect on me. I guess that despite the number of milligrams of caffeine in a food or beverage, you have to know yourself, and your own body, and do what is best for you.

Another important factor is to read labels and be mindful of serving sizes. In this age of “super sized” cups and portions, you may be getting way more caffeine in a serving than you ever imagined.

So, when you go to the Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s or other seasonal party, and you are surrounded by a spread of desserts and loads of chocolate, you will know how to select what to eat based on what you have eaten that day. You will also know what to eat depending on the time of day.

And, when you settle down to watch It’s A Wonderful Life with your cup of java or hot cocoa, you will be able to do so and not stay up half the night like me!

(*Values courtesy of Mayo Clinic, OTIS and Hershey websites.)

Short and sweet

Friday, December 17th, 2010

cooking-togetherDuring the holidays, cooking up something in your kitchen (and then eating it) creates lasting memories. Many years ago I made these cookies with my Mom, and now they are a holiday staple in our house. I don’t remember where the recipe came from – it was probably on the Kelloggs box, or perhaps it was on the Toll House chocolate chips package.  Wherever they came from, they are definitely worth passing on.

It is especially memorable to make goodies with young children, but it is often hard to find a recipe that caters to a short attention span. The following recipe is great for a number of reasons – it is something young kids can make with you, it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or even an oven, and it is reasonably healthy.  In fact, as cookies go, it contains peanut butter (protein), chocolate (anti-oxidants if you use dark chocolate) and corn flakes (which are fortified with folic acid)!  So, it is practically a guilt-free indulgence! Keep in mind that many people have soy or peanut allergies, so let your guests know that it contains peanuts and that the corn flakes may contain trace amounts of soy. 

So go ahead and enjoy…and remember that moderation is the key.

Corn Flake Cookies

6 Tbsp peanut butter
One 12 oz. package of chocolate chips* (I suggest Toll House Nestle Real Semi-Sweet chocolate chips)
6 cups corn flakes
Wax or parchment paper

In a large bowl, melt peanut butter and chocolate in the microwave. I suggest microwaving in 30 second increments, until chips are melted. Microwave ovens vary, so be careful not to overheat the mixture….only heat until melted.
Stir until well blended.
Add corn flakes and mix thoroughly until all corn flakes are coated with the chocolate mixture.
Cover a flat plate or cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of cornflakes onto wax paper to make individual cookies. If you prefer, you can drop the cookies into cupcake paper liners instead.
Chill in refrigerator until cold and solid (about 30 minutes or less).
Remove from wax paper and serve.

You can store the cookies in a cookie tin for 1-2 weeks.

*Milk chocolate or dark chocolate chips may be used – it depends on your taste. If you use dark chocolate, you will get the benefits of antioxidants, but it won’t be as sweet.

Enjoy… and let’s hear your review!

Moderate caffeine OK during pregnancy

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I always loved chocolate, but now that I’m pregnant, I found a deeper passion for it! Even then, I try not to go too nuts with it because I don’t want to have too much caffeine. But now, I can rest a little easier.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that it’s OK for pregnant mommies to have moderate amounts of caffeine per day. Research has shown that a reasonable amount of caffeine (about 200mg or 12oz) per day doesn’t appear to lead to miscarriage or preterm birth.

So if you’re pregnant, you can go ahead and have your daily cup of coffee. As for me, I’ll be making brownies!

Does caffeine affect fertility?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

7236819_thbSmall amounts of caffeine probably don’t reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. Most studies have found no effect on fertility when women consume less than 300 mg of caffeine a day. A few studies have found that women who consume more than 300 mg a day may be more likely to have trouble conceiving. But, again, this has not been proven. If you’re trying to get pregnant it’s better for your body if you drink water, milk and fruit juice. But, the occasional cappuccino is probably just fine. You might want to ask your doctor during your pre-pregnancy check-up what he/she thinks.

Super Bowl treats for the kids

Friday, January 30th, 2009

footballMost little kids aren’t into the game as much as their folks, but there’s no reason to exclude them from the excitement.  Why not make chocolate football treats for them! Thanks to CDKitchen.com, here’s a fun and cute idea for the little ones.  My 3 year old grandson will love these!
Ingredients:
4 cups Post cocoa pebbles cereal
6 squares baker’s semisweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
White decorating gel

Directions: Place cereal in large bowl. Microwave chocolate, corn syrup and butter in large microwavable bowl on high 2-1/2 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal; mix well. Shape into 3-inch long football shapes, using slightly moistened hands. Place on waxed paper; cool completely. Use decorating gel to add lacings to footballs.

This recipe from CDKitchen for Chocolatey Football Bites serves/makes 18