Archive for » May 6th, 2012«

How to Cook with Chocolate

Chocolate is one of my very favorite foods. Chocolate ice cream, truffles, dark chocolate bars – I love it in all forms. And contrary to what some might think, chocolate is actually very healthy – that is, when eaten in the right forms and in moderate amounts.

After all, not all chocolate is created equal – you won’t reap the same health benefits from a Mars Bar that you would from a few squares of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. So before you consider this article a license to go on an all-out candy binge, know the facts first and then proceed with your chocolate-loving habits.

What is chocolate? First, the egg before the chicken. Chocolate is derived from cocao beans, which are the seeds of the fruit from the cacao tree. The Aztecs were thought hold the cocoa bean in high value and even used it as currency.

To get from bean to bar, the cacao beans are roasted, cracked, and winnowed into what we commonly know as cacao nibs. The nibs are then crushed into a thick paste called chocolate liquor (which, ironically, contains no alcohol), and then added to a mixture of sugar, cocoa butter, milk and vanilla. And that, my friends, is how your Snicker’s bar came to be.

Health benefits: For one, chocolate is one of the top antioxidant containing foods around, beating out top-ranking prunes, blackberries and even blueberries. Chocolate is also rich in various vitamins and minerals, including iron, coper and potassium, and has been found to reduce the risk of stroke, specifically in women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate per week. Chocolate has also been shown to lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

Dark chocolate, specifically has anti-inflammatory properties and is also rich in fiber, which means it keeps you full longer so you’ll eat less. And another stunner? An Italian study in 2005 showed that people who ate chocolate regularly increased their insulin sensitivity, therefore lowering their risk for diabetes. Is there anything chocolate can’t do?

Nutritional stats: One ounce of dark chocolate contains approximately 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 3.1 grams of dietary fiber, and 1.7 grams of protein.

One ounce of milk chocolate contains approximately 157 calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 3.1 grams of dietary fiber, and 1.7 grams of protein.

Cooking methods: Raw cocoa beans have an intense and extremely bitter taste, so raw consumption is not recommended. However, once properly processed, chocolate can be used in a variety of dishes both sweet and savory, including cakes, pies, beverages, cookies, Mexican moles, meat rubs and soups.


Vegan Black Bean Brownie Pancakes

Vegetarian Chocolate Chili

Flax Chocolate Chip Cookies

4-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Chocolate Cake

We’ve got you covered in all things chocolate – no pun intended – from breakfast to dessert and even dinner with the vegetarian chocolate chili. Now go forth and eat chocolate – after all, it’s the healthy thing to do.

May 6th, 2012

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Dana Vollmer healthy, happy with new diet, training

Dana Vollmer was the youngest swimmer in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2000, just 12 years old. Three years later, she encountered the first of a series of medical and physical problems that would haunt her career for nearly a decade.

A fast heartbeat necessitated a cardiac ablation to correct an electrical dysfunction in 2003. Then back, shoulder and knee injuries slowed her. And her constant stomach aches weren’t just nerves, but gluten intolerance and an allergy to eggs finally diagnosed about a year ago.

Today Vollmer, 24, is healthy, happy and reigning world champion in the 100-meter butterfly. She is targeting an Olympic berth in that event, the 200 freestyle and the 200 free relay.

The University of California-Berkeley graduate, who trains with Cal/women’s Olympic team coach Teri McKeever, won a gold medal as part of the 4×200 relay in Athens in 2004, but failed to qualify for the Beijing Games. The allergies were discovered a few months before last summer’s world championships, so she whittled her program to eliminate the 200 free because she was unsure of her endurance on the new diet.

I still felt like at worlds I could have had one absolutely fantastic 200 free. But could I do five? Could I do prelims, semifinals, finals, prelim of the relay, finals of the relay? We didn’t know. So we scratched it at worlds and we’ve definitely gotten it back into training.

Throughout my whole career, I’ve had a lot of injuries. I had ACL surgery on my knee, had tendinitis in my shoulder, had a really bad back injury. And I never wanted to bring up, ‘Well, I have stomach aches.’ It always seemed like a thing on the back burner, I didn’t want to complain about my stomach hurting when I had been out for week with my back.

We had never really understood why I had so many stomach aches growing up. We just figured it was lactic acid … We took out milk products (from the diet) and that didn’t seem to make it better. And I took the cheese off my omelet and wondered why I still had a horrible stomach ache afterwards! Never really made the connection.

The diet changes have been fantastic. It’s definitely hard going from an athlete who used to eat a lot of carbs — spaghetti, any form of carbs — to really searching for healthy gluten-free food.

I felt like I got a lot leaner but yet stronger (on the new diet). … I had felt like I was strong but I was also kind of just soft. I knew there were abs under there but I didn’t have like six-pack abs. … I feel so much stronger and leaner in the water.

There was a lot going on (in 2008). My back had been the worst it had been leading up to that year. There were a couple of points in the season where I didn’t get out of bed for a week. … I just couldn’t move. I had a lot of nerve pain going down my left leg. We had been doing cortisone injections, so many different things trying to get back and none of it was working. My stomach was hurting…… And I think part of it was confidence. I had had these injuries and standing up behind the blocks, I was absolutely a nervous wreck.

I was just in Australia (in late February-early March) for a month, training with Milt Nelms (called swimming’s “Water Whisperer”). We did all of our training in the ocean. I think there were maybe five or six practices that I was actually in the pool that whole month. It was training in the waves and learning to deal with a whole different kind of stress of waves coming at you ….. And then catching a wave and then doing (butter)fly and making it so your body stays in that wave. So I was going faster than I ever have through water.

Recently I’ve gotten to do a lot work with the American Heart Association and with kids with heart conditions writing me letters and wanting inspiration. Back then, I didn’t really want to talk about it. I didn’t want to be defined as the girl with the heart condition. I wanted to be the fast swimmer who just happened to have a heart condition.

How I’ve been approaching my training lately, even if I’m sick, even if I’m having a horrible day, I need to be fast enough to where I can have a horrible race and I’m still going to win….I want to train well enough where I can go into the race and not have to have the swim of my life to make the Olympic team. A lot of times at trials, people don’t have swims of their lives, there’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot going on at trials.

Stars Cook Up Lesson Plan To Fight Obesity

The campaigners say cooking lessons are an important step in tackling the obesity epidemic

3:27pm UK, Sunday May 06, 2012

As the UK officially becomes the fattest nation in Europe, celebrities and health professionals have joined forces to call on the Government to fight obesity through compulsory cooking lessons in schools.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Jamie Oliver, Steven Gerrard and leading figures in health and education call on David Cameron to introduce a minimum 24 hours’ practical cooking skills and food education for all pupils aged four to 14.

The group said in the letter that the “pride” of hosting the Olympic Games has been “tainted by the shameful fact that Britain is officially the fattest nation in Europe”.

The campaigners said teaching children through the National Curriculum how to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and their families would be an important step in tackling the rising obesity epidemic.

Without these skills, people are less likely to exercise meaningful control over their diet and food intake, and tend to rely on pre-prepared or takeaway food, they add.

“We feel there’s a great opportunity for the Government and Britain to take the lead in implementing measures that will have a significant impact on the future health of our country,” the letter said.

Oliver previously campaigned for healthier school dinners

Celebrity chef Oliver and Liverpool footballer Gerrard have teamed up with Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and Terence Stephenson, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Nurses, academics and charity leaders also joined the campaign.

Besides the call for compulsory cookery lessons, they also noted the need for more sporting role models to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to children.

Prof Haslam said: “The 2012 Olympics provide a unique opportunity to improve the nation’s health.

“However, sitting in front of the television, cheering our elite athletes on, while eating crisps and chocolates, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is entirely counter-productive.

“National enthusiasm must be accompanied by an improved diet and enhanced physical activity by the entire population, not just by our Olympians, for a significant difference to be made to the deteriorating health of the population.”

Prof Stephenson added: “The UK now has the highest rate of obesity in Europe, with one in three children overweight or obese by the age of nine.

“If these lifestyles don’t change, the UK will have an adult population suffering with diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, giving an already cash-strapped NHS a £10 billion-a-year medical bill.”

The campaigners said compulsory cooking lessons would help the fight

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We know that a healthy attitude towards food, developed early, is critical to the health, well-being and good educational attainment of young people.

“That’s why we’ve asked the School Food Trust to use their expertise and draw up early years nutritional guidance and why maintained schools must abide by the national minimum standards for nutrition.

“We are currently reviewing the National Curriculum and will make further announcement on the review in due course.”

Oliver previously campaigned for healthier dinners in schools.

Lunden Souza: Healthy eating worth the sacrifice – Merced Sun

Now that I have greatly cut down on outside unnecessary routine expenses, I have really tried to make sure I am not wasting the food that I am purchasing at the grocery store.

Sometimes I would make something and leave it in a Tupperware container for weeks, only to realize that it was then too old to even consider eating. Or if I made too much at dinner time, I would just throw it away instead of saving it because I figured I’d never get around to eating it before it spoiled. So I have been really trying to make sure that there is minimal waste when it comes to the foods I am cooking at home.

I have really been trying to prevent wasting vegetables. Dinner time for me usually consists of some sort of protein and vegetables. I sauté the vegetables in olive oil and spices to soften them up a bit and give them some flavor. Often, I would notice that I’d make way too many vegetables and they would become too mushy to eat after a couple days. I started saving veggies left over at dinner to add to egg scrambles the next morning. Just add the leftover vegetables to a pan with non-fat cooking spray and heat them up. Then add the eggs and scramble. Serve with a side of whole-wheat toast or English muffin with spray butter and you have an awesome and healthy breakfast.

Another thing I would waste a lot of is coffee. I am not very good at measuring or just making enough for myself. There is always at least an extra cup of coffee that I used to just pour down the drain. To keep from wasting coffee, I have been saving the excess and putting it in the fridge. Instead of using almond milk or water in my protein shakes, sometimes I will use coffee as the base instead. One cup of coffee, one scoop of vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder, one whole banana, cinnamon and ice have become a great breakfast or snack that is packed with protein and also a bit of caffeine for an added boost. This puts those morning coffee drinks to shame.

There has to be a tradeoff when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. As with any situation, things do not just come easy or without a price. If it is really important to you and your family to live a healthy, nutritious and fit life, then it is time to give up unnecessary and unhealthy expensive habits and really learn how to make the most out of your new life.

Lunden Souza can be reached at

Baltimore Ravens Bryant McKinnie at camp to lose weight

Looking to get back into Pro-Bowl form, Baltimore Ravens tackle Bryant McKinnie is treating the team’s voluntary offseason workout as if it was mandatory.

“I feel like I’m on Celebrity Fit Club,” McKinnie told the Ravens’ official website.

McKinnie’s weight shot up to 400 pounds during the lockout last offseason, leading the Minnesota Vikings, the only team the 10-year veteran had known, to cut him.

Now McKinnie is playing at 365 pounds and trying to lose 15 more.

“That would be that perfect weight, because when you get too light people start pushing you around,” McKinnie said. “That would take away my advantage.”

The Ravens have shown faith in McKinnie, reportedly picking up his roster bonus after meeting with him in March.

“They just wanted to see what I looked like physically, make sure I didn’t balloon up,” McKinney. “It was important for them to see me here working and for me to take advantage of the time we have in the classroom.”

The 6-foot-9 McKinnie was a first-round pick of the Vikings (No. 7 overall) in the 2002 NFL draft. He played college football at Miami.

Washington state mayors in weight loss battle, competing to see who can drop …

Sean Guard watched other people exercising from the window of his car or his office in City Hall, as the pounds piled on slowly, a little bit at a time. The Washougal mayor left his city’s bike trails and foot paths to those more inclined to exercise while he made short work of chicken-fried steaks.

In neighboring Camas on the Columbia River, Scott Higgins leaves up a skinny picture on his online resume, but the truth is a little harder for the city’s mayor. He has ratcheted up and down the scale, but on Wednesday landed at a firm 300 pounds.

Together, the two present a familiar picture of the ever-expanding American waistline- or, at least the kind of weight problems that contribute to higher health care costs and shortened life spans. Higgins has lost a significant amount of weight two or three times, he said. Guard has never tried.

With a health coach and a new diet program, the two mayors hope to lead their respective cities to a collective weight loss. But first, they talked a little trash.

“I’m planning on sabotaging you at every chance I get,” Higgins said. “You might want to tell your office staff to not accept any packages from the city of Camas.”

“The more calories the better,” Guard responded. “I know how to share.”

Taking inspiration from television’s “The Biggest Loser,” the cities are making it competitive in a contest to see which can lose the most weight in 12 months.


At a Wednesday press conference, Guard and Higgins stepped on the scales. Neither was particularly happy with the number – Higgins was 10 pounds heavier than he said he weighed during an interview last week.

The cities have long been sports rivals, and the mayors are trying to capitalize on that rivalry to get residents to participate in the pound-shedding campaign. Local businesses have already started signing up employees for the contest.

“Camas definitely has a higher percentage (of obesity and overweight people) than we’d like,” Higgins said.

The southwest Washington cities are less than 40 miles from bike-friendly Portland, Ore., and both mayors said they and their cities could make more use of the myriad trails in the area.

“There’s great places to walk, we’ve just got to do it,” Guard said. “We just have to plan more meetings together, we just have to walk.”

There’s more at stake than thinner elected officials. Insurance companies support the idea, and offer a small incentive to the city of Camas.

“Those health care costs continue to rise,” Higgins said. “If we have wellness programs and events like these, our insurance providers give us a 2 percent discount.”

At his weigh-in, Guard read Higgins his weight. Higgins dropped his head and chuckled.

“Oh man,” Higgins said. “We got work to do.”