Friday, September 22, 2017

Here we go, again!

I'm so excited to be back to writing! As an English teacher, I encourage others to write daily. I read what they write, come up with projects to inspire them to write. In all of that, am not writing. I realized I haven't been taking the time to write. Even if no one reads this blog, it will be a place I can write for me, and share something I care about - healthy food!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Feed your inner chocolate monster

Hi, I'm Erin and I'm a chocolate monster. That is not to be mistaken for the Cookie Monster, which is a whole other entity. I'm just the chocolate monster.

I've discovered that I can't go a day with out having chocolate in some form or fashion. Sometimes it's in the form of my favorite vegan Chocolate Shakeology, but other times I just want to bite in to a piece of dark chocolate. I do love the vegan chocolate Shakeology, because it tastes like a dark chocolate shake. Dark chocolate is my favorite, and the vegan chocolate Shakeology feels like a cheat. It's not a cheat though, because I'm actually TREATING my body. Considering I drink Shakeology daily, sometimes I want that EXTRA bit of chocolate. Don't judge me! One of the lovely receptionists at my school has a candy jar at her desk that she always keeps filled. I've been struggling lately with hitting the candy bowl. I would like to blame end-of-the-year fatigue, but honestly it's likely to be lack of discipline with it.

Let me be clear, not all chocolate is bad! If you want chocolate, then aim for dark chocolate  that is 75% or more cacao. Dark chocolate that is 75% cacao or more will likely have less sugar and more flavonins (the good for your body stuff in chocolate). 

10 Reasons you should eat chocolate daily

1. People that eat dark chocolate consume 15% less calories and have fewer salty/sweet/fatty cravings in comparison to those who eat milk chocolate

2. Dark chocolate naturally helps you feel more satisfied and happy

3. Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which helps with PMS symptoms

4. Dark chocolate has the same type of antioxidants found in red wine and tea, which can help boost brain activity

5. Dark chocolate can help balance your body with their are stress-related imbalances. It can also reduce the levels of stress hormones

6. Dark chocolate has caffeine -  One ounce of 70 percent dark chocolate contains about 40 mg of caffeine, compared to 200 mg in 8 ounces of brewed coffee and 120 mg in strong black tea.

7. The antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. This means better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to every cell.

8. Chocolate’s protective natural substances also help prevent cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

9. Heart attack survivors who ate chocolate just twice a week over a two-year period cut their risk of dying from heart disease threefold.

10. The type of saturated fat in dark chocolate isn’t the same as the artery-clogging saturated fat in a hamburger or whole milk. It’s a unique variety called stearic acid, much of which gets converted in the body to oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid. (information from

So, now you know that you should eat chocolate. You can totally go reach for that stash of Hershey milk chocolate minis, right? Nope, wrong. You have to reach for the right type of chocolate, and not one that is laden with chemicals, sugars, and milk. If you're dazed and confused about which brands to choose, here is a list of the best and worst brands of chocolate for your body. Obviously, this isn't all-inclusive. But, it should be a handy guide for your next Whole Foods trip!

The best and worst dark chocolate

Healthy Dark Chocolate

Pascha - Organic, fair trade, non-GMO dark chocolate. No soy lecithin. Range of 55%-85%

Sweetriot - Organic, fair trade, all natural dark chocolate. 60% with nibs, 70%, or 80%. Around 20 calories/square.

Alter Eco - USDA Organic and Fair Trade. Range of dark chocolate. 85% Dark Blackout is best.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark - 72% Cacao and 86% Cacao Chocolate Bars. They have bars as well as small squares.

Godiva - 72% Cacao Chocolate Bars. Not processed with alkali. There used to be an 85% – but we can’t find it anymore. There is also some controversy over whether they use GMO Soy Lecithin.

Lindt - 70%, 85%, and 90% Cacao bars. They also make a 99% cacao (this is hard to find).

Green & Blacks - 70% Cacao and 85% Cacao bars. Organic and sometimes fair trade (e.g. Maya Gold).

Valrhona - 70% Cacao bars.

Moser Roth - 70% Cacao and 85% Cacao Chocolate Bars.

Endangered Species - 72% Cacao and 88% Cacao bars. Also a 70% organic bar. Ethically traded cacao. Social enterprise.

Chocolove - 70% Cacao and a 73% Fair trade bar.

Taza - 70%, 80%, and 87% cacao bars. All 100% USDA organic.

Vivani -Vivani is a German chocolatier that sources ingredients from Ceres (100% organic). 72% and 85% bars available in USA and Canada.

Giddy Yoyo - Based in Canada. Raw, USDA organic. A large range of dark chocolate bars up to 89%.

Theo - Based in Seattle. 100% Organic, Fair Trade, and non-GMO certified. 85% and a large range of different flavored 70% bars.

Scharffen Berger - Atrisan US chocolate company (owned by Hershey). Selection of chocolate squares and bars (from 62% up to 82% cacao),

Unhealthy Dark Chocolates

Dove Dark Chocolate - Low cacao content. All processed with alkali.
CocoaVia Supplement Packs - These are similar to Crystal Light, except they have flavanols (the main chocolate antioxidant) added in. You will get some health benefits from this, but it is more important to eat the whole food that contains the fiber.
Hershey’s Special Dark - Processed with alkali. High in sugar.
Dark Chocolate M&M’s - The ingredients list is ambiguous (they list “chocolate” as an ingredient). However these are high in sugar (more like candy than healthy dark chocolate).

Milky Way Midnight - Like all the candy brands, this is not really a dark chocolate. It has more sugar than cacao and is processed with alkali.

Nestle Dark Hot Chocolate - Ouch! This beverage mix is the worst of the lot. Sugar, trans-fat, and processed with alkali.
Cadbury Bournville - 60g of sugar per small bar.
Cadbury Old Gold - It says dark chocolate on the label, but it is a dairy milk – with a high sugar content.
Brookside Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate or Blueberries - Even though this appears to have some fruit – a closer look at the ingredients says something different. (Information from


Monday, May 11, 2015

Product Review: Buff Bake

Buff Bake recently sent me a jar of one of their products - Buff Bake Snickerdoodle Almond Butter. I was very excited to try a Buff Bake almond butter, because they offer a protein-packed almond butter. The one I got touted chia and flax in the ingredients - so I was even more excited because those are some of my faves! Honestly,  I normally go for the offerings that have "almonds" as the only ingredient, this stuff was chalked full of "love your body" ingredients. Each product varies, so I will only point out the Snickerdoodle - which is what I got. Buff Bake Snickerdoodle lists Roasted Almonds, All Natural Whey Protein, Coconut Palm Sugar, cinnamon, Coconut Oil, Chia Seed, Flax Seed as the ingredients.  That is a pretty sweet powerhouse of ingredients! It's also a huge plus for me that it's gluten free!

I normally have to limit my almond butter consumption to with apple slices or with my oats - only for the fact that I could eat a jar for dinner. :) But, when I saw it was snickerdoodle (one of my favorite cookies) I knew my spoon had to make the plunge!

You know when you taste something so heavenly that your eyes roll back and you just have to savor it? Yup, that's totally what happened with Buff Bake Snickerdoodle Almond Butter. I was in HEAVEN! This stuff will be a staple in my pantry, and I can't wait to try the other flavors they have to offer!

Here is one of my favorite recipes using Buff Bake Snickerdoodle Almond Butter. It's a protein and fiber rich breakfast treat. I love how the warm apples, cinnamon, and Buff Bake's Snickerdoodle Almond Butter all melt together for an amazing breakfast. It reminds me of an apple pie - for breakfast and way healthier! :)

(Hmm, now I'm thinking about one of my favorite guilty pleasures and trying this almond butter with gluten free animal crackers. That's going on my grocery list!)

Okay, enough rambling... here's the recipe!

Good Morning Buff Bake Snickerdoodle Oats:

  1. Cook the oats according to the package directions - using the almond milk and water for the liquids. 
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, add chopped apples. Sprinkle with some cinnamon and microwave for about a 1-1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Top the oats with apples.
  4. Top oats with Buff Bake's Snickerdoodle Almond Butter.
This would also be amazing with a sprinkling of dried cranberries. :)

ENJOY!! :)