All About Chocolate

Raise your hand if you love chocolate. I just raised both hands and waved them in the air because I love chocolate that much. It’s such a versatile food. We can drink it, melt it, mix it or consume it straight up. It amazes me that there are so many variations but like many foods some choices are better than others for our health.

Chocolate is produced from the seed of cacao tree that is grown only in tropical regions. The seeds are contained in pods that can be the size of a butternut squash. Harvesting is done by hand with the use of machetes. The beans are fermented for a number of days and then dried. After that they are roasted and put through a machine that cracks the seed coats, blows the seed coats away, leaving the cacao nibs. From this point, depending on the processing involved, we get one of the following:

  • Unsweetened chocolate – It’s bitter and isn’t worth tasting on it’s own (I’m speaking from experience). 

  • Bittersweet, semisweet or dark chocolate – There’s no milk powder in any of these, and varying amounts of sugar. 

  • Milk Chocolate – Contains milk powder and sugar. 

  • White Chocolate – Not really chocolate as it’s made from the cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids. It does not contain the cocoa solids that make up the other chocolates. 

  • Cocoa Powder – The leftover solids from the process are ground into powder. 

Chocolate is the snack of choice in many parts of the world. Canadians each eat approximately 6 lbs per year. It is a popular source of caffeine, and it does stimulate some of the same regions of the brain that are activated by drugs such as cocaine. I can believe this. It seems that a day doesn’t go by that I don’t have some kind of chocolate.

When choosing chocolate go for as pure as you can. Chocolate containing at least 85% cocoa has fewer calories, more fibre, more protein and less sugar than chocolate that is greatly processed (like chocolate bars). A couple of squares of the pure stuff goes a long way in satisfying the craving. In addition, if you choose organic or fair brands you’re contributing to the health of our planet.

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