Janet's Notebook
Chocolate = Love

Melanie Miller's Cheese & Chocolate Cake

As we look to celebrate the ones we love this Valentine's Day, let us not forget that old adage that says the quickest way to the heart is through the stomach! That saying takes on a whole new meaning when you begin to research the heart-healthy benefits of my old friend, chocolate. (We go WAY back.)

Health benefits from chocolate?! You bet your bippy! I thought it was too good to be true myself, but it turns out that there have been numerous studies done that all point to the heart-friendly effects chocolate can have on our bodies.

Now before you go clearing out the Snickers shelf at the Piggly Wiggly, check out these facts I rounded-up on the different types of chocolate out there:

MILK CHOCOLATE - This is what most kids (and yours truly) consider the good stuff. Milk chocolate is a sweetened chocolate that also contains milk powder or condensed milk to add creaminess. Unfortunately, it's also typically the most fattening.
[It's worth it for Robyn Fischesser's Peanut Butter Blossoms]

WHITE CHOCOLATE - I know, I know... it's not really chocolate. But it's just so darn good that I couldn't leave it off the list. There is, in fact, cocoa butter in white chocolate (along with sugar & milk) but no cocoa solids are used. And no, it doesn't do much good for your body other than put a smile on your face.
[Try one of Debbie Deverill's Peaches & Cream Oatmeal Cookies]

DARK CHOCOLATE - Now this is where your heart health can get a boost! Dark chocolate is said to contain a substantial amount of antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals. (Not exactly sure what that means, but I like the sound of it...) It is also a rich source of several chemicals which are thought to possess "cardioprotective" properties and reduce the possibility of a heart attack when eaten regularly in small amounts. Consider it done!
[Get your health on with Janis Roach's Cherry Chocolate Cake]

SEMISWEET/BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE - While not identical, these similar types of dark chocolate are interchangeable in baking. They are ideal for chocolate chip cookies... and late-night snacking.
[Check out Melanie Miller's Cheese & Chocolate Tunnel Cake]

UNSWEETENED/BAKING CHOCOLATE - Unsweetened chocolate (a.k.a. baking chocolate) is just that: unadulterated chocolate with no additives. It's absolutely wonderful in baking, just don't forget to add your own sugar or your heart will be in for a less pleasant kind of shock when you take that first bite!
[Sweeten up with Maven Argyle's Chocolate Caramel Fudge Cake]

There you have it, a semi-scientific breakdown of my very favorite health food: Chocolate. For me, nothing says love like a little bit o' sugar. Now pass the brownies, please...

Check out the yummy sweet treats featured on this week's homepage for an extra something special to make for your Valentine!

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Allen Hooper MD - Feb 13, 2010
Just thought you and others might like to know that those "free radicals" you mentioned actually are the little "charged particle rascals" that run arround the body and cause damage at the cellular level...like breaking your chromosomes and other structures that are vital to their long survival. That kind of damage can contribute to aging and even cancer. Soooo, dark chocolate is just SUPER! I think that is just so nice to know when I try a piece of that chocolate cake.
Polly Anna - Feb 9, 2010
What a great topic! Do you need volunteers? I would be a great chocolate taster with my years of experience!

BTW- Our office health guru gifted everyone with a Hershey's special Dark candy bar...maybe she read your comments:-)