One of the great things about interns is that they give me tips on new products I have not seen yet. Honestly, there are so many new products available at grocery stores, it is impossible to keep up with them. One of my interns told me about Emerald’s Cocoa Roast Almonds. They are roasted almonds that are dusted with cocoa powder. It is just enough cocoa powder to give a chocolate flavor that is a perfect blend with the almonds.
One ounce of the cocoa roasted almonds give you 150 calories, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein. This is a lot of calories in a small space, so you do need to be careful with them. Just because they are nuts does not mean you can eat as much as you want.
I have found they make a nice, filling snack (because of the mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fat) particularly after dinner when I’m looking for a taste of chocolate.
Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Michelle May who wrote Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat has a great weekly newsletter. She starts last week’s newsletter with the question “How many rice cakes does it take to satisfy a craving for chocolate?” The answer. . . .”Five rice cakes. 7 baby carrots. 4 celery sticks. One orange. A container of light yogurt. And a Snickers(R) bar.” This really made me laugh! How many times do we crave a “bad” food but cannot satisfy that craving until we have it? Chocolate is one of the worst for this. Nothing seems to satisfy a chocolate craving other than . . . chocolate.
Since today is Valentine’s day, I thought was perfect to talk about chocolate. Many people label chocolate as a “bad” food. Why is chocolate bad? Has it committed a crime? I can just hear the headlines. . . .”Today at 6PM. A chocolate bar went on a rampage and forced 20 people to take a bite of itself! At this point, the police are labeling these as assults, but we are still waiting to hear on final charges from the District Attorney. The bar was not easily subdued. One officer called it ‘a really bad bar.’”
Chocolate, and other foods, are not inherently “bad.” They are only bad if we over eat it. Using this definition, any food could be “bad.” Rather than labeling foods as good/bad, why not make a conscious choice to eat and enjoy foods. It is Valentine’s day – a day for love and chocolate. Why not choose a piece of chocolate that you really want and choose to eat it. But, don’t just eat it, enjoy it. Focus on how it looks, smells, feels in your mouth, and tastes – eat it mindfully. If you eat it mindfully, it will be much more satisfying than if you eat it mindlessly – like when you are reading, watching TV or working on your computer. If you’ve chosen to eat something, why not take the time to really enjoy it.
I hope you have a great day and choose to enjoy some special food today, this week, this month.
Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put “eat chocolate.” Now, you’ll get at least one thing done today. — Gina Hayes
I believe that just about everything can be included in a meal plan – it just has to be in moderation. And, that does include chocolate. Remember those brownies with a twist? That was one way to do it. One of my clients tried a recipe out of Ellie Krieger’s new cookbook So Easy and said it was amazing. She made it for an office party and also for a family gathering. Everyone raved about them she said. Of course, I had to try it, too. The recipe is for cherry-almond-chocolate clusters and is included below. These make a good snack or dessert (as long as you stick to just one). They have 150 calories, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. They are higher in fat (10 grams) but again as an occasional part of your eating plan they are fine to include.
So, enjoy starting 2010 off on the right foot – with a little chocolate!
- 1 cup whole roasted almonds, coarsely chopped (can use another nut if you like)
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped (can use another dried fruit or mix if you like)
- 6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate (60% to 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
- In a medium bowl, toss together the almonds and cherries. Line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper.
- Melt half the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over 1 inch of barely simmering water, over the lowest possible heat, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the chocolate. Remove the top pan with the chocolate in it, gently wipe the bottom, and set it aside for a moment. Replace the simmering water in the bottom pan with warm tap water. Put the pan of melted chocolate on top of the warm water. This will keep the chocolate at the right temperature while you make the clusters.
- Stir the fruit/nut mixture into the chocolate. Spoon out heaping tablespoon-sized clusters of the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Put them in the refrigerator to set for 15 minutes. Store and serve at room temperature.
A prior blog post was about chocolate, and it is a topic I frequently get asked about. One of the best things you can do is to find ways to swap lower calorie foods for higher calorie ones. One of my favorite swaps is unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk for regular milk for hot chocolate. Put a cup in the microwave for 1:40, add a little Splenda, maybe a few marshmallows and you’ve got yummy hot chocolate. I save 40 calories over skim milk. And, remember those calories add up. Almond milk is also a great alternative for those who avoid dairy and/or soy products.
Sometimes, only a baked chocolate product will satisfy that hunger. When that happens, I make a batch of Hungry Girl’s Death by Chocolate Cupcakes. These are a snap to make and have just 108 calories per cupcake which is about half of a regular cupcake. Here’s the recipe:
2 cups moist-style chocolate cake mix (half of an 18.25-oz. box)
Two 25-calorie packets diet hot cocoa mix
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
2 tbsp. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1 tsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
1/8 tsp. salt
Place chocolate chips and the contents of both cocoa packets in a tall glass. Add 12 ounces of boiling water, and stir until chips and cocoa mix have dissolved. (I find my stick blender does a quick job of this.) Place glass in the freezer to chill for 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once cocoa has chilled, give it a stir, and mix with all other ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whip batter with a whisk or fork for 2 minutes. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray, or line it with baking cups. Evenly spoon batter (which will be thin, but don’t worry, your cupcakes will puff up!) into the pan. Place pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Cupcakes will look shiny when done. MAKES 12 SERVINGS
Serving Size: 1 cupcake
The trick is to know when you can and can not make a swap. Sometimes only one thing will satisfy that craving. Other times you can save some calories and still be satisfied.
Do you have some favorite swaps? I’d love to hear about them.