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aprincessmom
03-28-2002, 10:58 AM
Is Chocolate a Health Food?

A burning question for all of us! Recent research indicates that chocolate contains stearic acid, a type of fat that may lower LDLs, “the bad” cholesterol. On the other hand, it tends to also contain saturated fat and sugar, which aren’t heart healthy. Still, chocolate also contains antioxidants — the same ones in tea, red wine and many fruits and vegetables — that may help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. So the jury is still out on this. Perhaps our poll will help settle this question once and for all :D

Chocolate does help release certain levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins — mood-boosting chemicals in your brain. But low levels of these brain chemicals aren’t the only reason you may want chocolate. Research indicates it may be a combination of emotions, senses, chemicals, culture and hormones.

Whatever the reason, don't ignore your craving even when dieting because it may cause you to eat more of other things while trying to satisfy that urge and you'll end up sabotaging your diet when a bite of what you wanted in the first place would have held your craving.

Here's some tips to keep you from biting the head of that bunny Easter morning:

Think bite-size. It usually just takes a little bit of chocolate to curb a craving. Eat single piece like a mini-chocolate egg.
Take your time. Let it melt a little on your tongue. Don't gobble it so quickly you don't have time to taste it!
Try liquid chocolate -- diet hot chocolate, mocha-flavored coffees. These can sometimes satisfy that urge especially if you are craving the taste of chocolate and not a specific texture.
There are many forms of chocolate besides candy -- low-fat or nonfat chocolate pudding, chocolate graham crackers or wafers, or fudgesicles can also satisfy that urge.

But it's not just the chocolate that gets you during the holidays. It's everything. So here are some more tips for keeping your eating and cravings in check during the holidays.


Spend your food credits wisely. Whether you count points, fat grams, calories, protein or carbos, decide how much you're willing to spend on specific holiday treats.

Take the edge off. Eat a filling, healthy snack before going to that get together so you don't face the buffet table starved. Nonfat yogurt with fruit or half a turkey sandwich on whole wheat or an apple can fill you up enough to help you make the right decisions.

Focus on the traditions of the season. In other words, socialize first, then eat.

Make a preview run before taking a plate. Look over everything and determine what it is you will grab. That way you don't get to the end of the buffet line or dinner course and discover something else you'd rather have.

Along the same lines, grab a plate for appetizers. Grabbing at a shrimp puff here and a cookie there quickly adds up and despite everything you've heard, it does count even if you eat it standing up or without a plate.

Enjoy the specialties of the season. You can have cheese and crackers any time. Opt for those special seasonal delights but make sure you watch your portions.

Offer to bring something that you know meets your dietary needs. That way you have a fall back for eating

I hope these tips help. And in honor of the holiday season, I've included two seasonal dishes for your eating pleasure. The first is a recipe given to me years and years ago by one of my college roommate's mom. I've made some minor changes (eliminated the butter) to bring the point total down for me. Those who are not so butter limited, feel free to use the 3 tbsps of butter in place of the non-stick spray. The second one is a great side dish that is perfect with your Easter Ham or Lamb.

Happy Passover and Easter everyone!

Matzo Brei

This recipe includes garlic, mushrooms, and bell peppers -- all additions to the basic recipe, traditionally made with only matzo, eggs, onion, and salt and pepper.

4 pieces matzo
1 clove of garlic, chopped
5 white button mushrooms, lightly washed and chopped
1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 small onion, minced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Break up matzo into small pieces, place in fine-mesh strainer, and run under a light stream of cold water for 2 minutes.

Press matzo by hand to remove water.

Spray a large, nonstick fry pan with nonstick spray (I use the butter spray) and saute the garlic, mushrooms, and bell pepper for about 5 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture into a bowl and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, combine broken matzo, eggs, and onion. Add salt and pepper. Mix, add vegetables that have been set aside, and mix again.

Re-spray the fry pan with the nonstick spray and add the matzo batter to the pan. Fry until it turns golden brown on each side. To achieve the look of a large "pancake," keep batter intact and flip whole. Or for a "scrambled" texture, break up into pieces as it cooks.

Serve with your choice of maple syrup, sour cream, or salsa. (I prefer the salsa with this particular style of matzo brei)

Serves 2. Approximately 7 points for WW.




Oven-Roasted Asparagus With Thyme
from Cooking Light Magazine
4 servings

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears
1 large garlic clove, halved
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400°.

Snap off tough ends of asparagus; remove scales with a knife or vegetable peeler, if desired. Set aside.

Rub cut sides of garlic over a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; place garlic in dish.

Add asparagus; drizzle with oil.

Sprinkle asparagus with salt, thyme, and pepper; toss gently.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, stirring once.


Nutrition Facts (per serving) 62 calories; 8.3 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fat; 297 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 42 mg calcium; 1.8 mg iron; 3.7 g fiber