Chocolate – It’s a Hard Habit to Break

Our society has a serious chocolate addiction, to the tune of eleven pounds per person per year. (2.8 billion pounds in the US alone.)

We eat it for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, and any other celebration we can think of. And if we can’t think of one, we eat it anyway, just for the sheer joy of it. (I know I do.)


Chocolate has many health benefits. Like these:

– It is an antioxidant, which basically means it can prevent, or at least slow down, damage to the cells.
– It can improve blood pressure.
– It improves our mood (just looking at it makes me happy).
– It helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

Knowing all these benefits encourages me to eat this treat daily. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am allergic to two main ingredients in most chocolate bars: sugar, and milk.

While neither sugar (in moderation) or milk (also in moderation) are probably not going to kill you, they have become popular ingredients added to many of our foods. It’s crazy. Just check out boxes in the cereal aisle, gum, candy (obviously), processed soups, and frozen foods. Milk and sugar are over-used, and over-processed, and have become an allergen for many people.

To top it off, the chocolate in most bars isn’t always the highest quality, and sometimes a few extra (unhealthy) ingredients are tossed in for good measure.

So, what we do when all we want is chocolate that is great tasting, and healthy for us as well? Why, we make it, of course.

In the book “Nourishing Traditions,” by Sally Fallon, I found a simple recipe for fudge. Believe me, once you eat this, you will never want a store-bought bar again.

THE RECIPE:

In a large bowl, mix:

1 cup melted real butter or coconut oil. I know, fat, right? But (healthy) fat is necessary for our brains to keep their thinking power, and our bodies to work in the amazing way they do. Butter has vitamins D, E, K, and A, and also protects against tooth decay. Coconut oil (which is what I use), prevents high blood pressure and heart disease, reduces inflammation, and improves energy. The way I eat this stuff, I should never have an ounce of inflammation in my body.

1 cup raw, organic cocoa.

1 cup raw, organic honey. (Since I don’t eat cane sugar, I am sensitive to anything sweet, so I do closer to 1/2 cup – but that’s your call).

Mix well before pouring into a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper. Place in freezer. (Note – This bar needs to be kept frozen, or all you’ll have is a pile of chocolate goo. Still tasty, but a lot messier.)

*You can also add shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, macadamias, or even cocoa nibs. A sprinkle of sea salt on the top is a yummy touch. Oh, and I love a dash of cinnamon in mine.

That’s it! Healthy fudgy goodness. And it’s good for you, too!

Side notes: There are 48 teaspoons of sugar in one cup of honey. If you cut the chocolate into 48 bars, each one has one teaspoon. Depending on which site you read, we shouldn’t eat more than 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day (the lower being for women or those who consume less calories, the higher for men). That doesn’t mean you should eat 6-9 of these, it means take it into consideration when adding this treat to your daily diet.

Enjoy! Let me know if you make this tasty treat, and what additions you added.

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The Minimal Refrigerator

I placed my containers of fruits and veggies in the fridge, barely able to fit them on the narrow shelves. Our fridge was stocked, filled from top to bottom, and there are only two of us in our home. We had more food than we needed. But our fridge was full, and I felt good.

It made me think about refrigerators from the past, and I wondered, when did they begin to change, and why?

In the 1950s, refrigerators were pretty pastels, round edges, and short in stature, much different than the boxy ones of the 1970s.

Refrigerators more than doubled in size since the 1950s, when a fridge in the typical American home was a mere 9 cubic feet. By 1980, refrigerators grew to 19.6 cubic feet, and in 2012, 22.5 (tested.com)

But let’s go back a bit. The first home refrigerators were in Indiana in 1911. In the 1920s, freezers were introduced. And by the 1940s, frozen food storage was popular. Refrigerators were small, not like the monsters of today.

Why, and how, did they become so big?

As our homes grew, nearly tripling in square footage since the 50s, so did our appliances. But there is more to it than that.

In the 50s, a larger percentage of moms stayed home and cooked for the family, making multiple trips to the store within a week, and placing whole foods on the table. Much of what was served was not what you see in today’s freezers and stocked on the grocery store shelves. (Though it did exist, and it was around this time frozen dinners came on the market.)

The Big Box Store

Today, in many families, both parents work. Time is short, convenience a necessity, shopping more than once a week is nearly impossible, and the desire (and thus perceived need) is for a larger refrigerator. But there is even more.

When families desired convenience, a few brilliant minds got into the game and created The Big Box Store.

The Big Box Store has everything, multiple boxes of tissues, dozens of batteries, packages with more flashlights than anyone knows what to do with, restaurant size mayonnaise containers, bags of beans larger than a small child, and almost anything one can imagine.

My husband and I have (more than once) fallen victim to the Big Box Store, purchasing large packages of tomatoes and sauce that went bad, and a huge bag of rice that ended up with bugs.

But this isn’t an article about the good, bad, or ugly of a big box store. This is about the size of our refrigerators.

With a large refrigerator comes a desire to fill it, much like the 2500 square foot home with empty space in the corner. Beverages are stuffed in the door, little pudding containers and multiple cheese sticks piled in drawers, and sauces and jams of every flavor are placed on the shelves.

All that food makes us feel rich, look prosperous and well-off, makes us well-fed, and ready for any type of disaster. But are these things true?

How Rich Are We?

Having a lot doesn’t mean richness. It might mean we’ve spent more than we needed to. According to feedingamerica.org and mercola.com, between 40 and 50 percent of food is thrown away. If all that food hadn’t been bought, think of the money that could have been saved. I think of that as I see all the food in my fridge, and wonder, did I need so much?

Looking Good

Prosperity is a goal many aspire to, the right clothes, the expensive car, great jewelry. Even a well-stocked fridge is a sign of being prosperous.

But trying to look good for others is deceitful and dishonest, if only to ourselves. We spend needless time and money impressing people. We often end up in debt because of it.

Well-Fed

As for being well-fed, sad to say, but stocked fridge and freezer is not necessarily the sign of a well-nourished family. Processed foods could mean malnourishment, disease, chemicals fed into growing bodies. Processed foods are not a healthier choice, and often, processed foods are expensive.

Being Prepared

If you want to be ready for a disaster, the fridge is not the way to go. Non-perishables, just the necessities, are your best bet. But be careful, because as I mentioned earlier, even non-perishables expire.

It’s hard to get away from an over-sized fridge. You’d be hard-pressed to find a small fridge in any new home today. But we can get away from the attitude associated with huge appliances. We don’t need to fill our fridge any more than we need to fill our home.

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The Circle of Healthy Living

They say what goes around comes around, or is it the other way around? I can never remember. In any case, it’s a circle. This is true in every area of our lives, how we treat others, good or bad, and even how we treat ourselves. And it is never truer than in our health. I recently discovered this in my own life.

I’ve always been a bit of a health nut, but lately, due to food and pollen allergies, I’ve pushed my healthy living up a few notches. I am determined to one day see my allergies disappear, or if nothing else, at least make them less severe. But even if they never totally go away, this healthy lifestyle is sure to benefit me. How do I know? Because of the circle.

Three weeks ago, after seeing the doctor, I tossed the remaining processed foods from our home. I made homemade tomato-less ketchup, nut and seed bread, chicken stock, and carob fudge. My eating became all clean, whole foods. And this is what happened. . .

I lost a few pounds. My husband lost some weight as well (because he is forced to eat whatever I eat, and being the good sport that he is, he does it without complaining). We are both sleeping better, feeling better, and waking up a bit more energized (often before the alarm goes off).

You know what? I love having energy. Because when I have energy, I exercise more. And when I exercise more, I want to eat healthier. And when I eat healthier, I have more energy. See how that works? A circle.

Jump on the circle with me. You’ll love the ride. Pick one thing to jumpstart your health. It doesn’t have to be big. Just one small change will lead to another, which leads to another, until soon, you will be on your own circle to a healthier life.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Drink more water.
2. Cut out processed foods.
3. Don’t eat out as often.
4. Add more veggies to your diet.
5. Walk daily.
6. Do push-ups, or sit-ups, or lift a few weights.
7. Do yoga.

Happy Healthy Living!

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Simple Recipes for a Simple Life

The “Chow” category is back, because I can’t stay away from great food, or my love of cooking.

My affair with cooking began in junior high when I took my first cooking class. It was there I learned the most important steps, like boiling water, frying an egg, and cooking pasta.

I grew older, took more classes, and learned how to make things like (good tasting) borscht and Baked Alaska.

With each session of classes, the recipes grew harder, and the list of ingredients longer. But I didn’t mind. I saw complicated recipes as a challenge, one which I continued into my own home when I got married.

But it wasn’t long before children came along, and in between diaper-changing, homeschooling, volunteering, and working, my time was stretched, and the ability to cook long, complicated meals became difficult.

It was then I turned to the simple meals I’d grown up with, burgers, plain pork chops, vegetable soup with dumplings, and tons of casseroles.

Meals were easy, albeit a little boring at times. There are, after all, only so many ways to serve a vegetable, at least that’s what I thought at the time.

But I know better now. I’m amazed at all the meals one can make with a simple ingredient. Like sweet potatoes – they are my go-to for everything from fries to bread, soups to the base of a sloppy joe. Who knew one simple vegetable had so many uses?

The following is a list of my favorite recipe sites. Thank you to the many amazing bloggers with such incredible talent! I wish I could list all of your sites here.

Some of my favorite simple food sites.

*Minimalist Baker – The name says it all. Few ingredients. Quick, easy recipes.

*Stone Soup – The author of “5 Ingredients 10 Minutes.” Her recipes are simple and healthy.

*Sweet Phi – Join her on Friday for her “5 Ingredient Friday Recipes.”

*Simply Recipes – Simply a ton of recipes. While I haven’t had time to peruse all of them, the ones I have used are amazing, and not too difficult.

*Budget Bytes – Simple, good cooking on a budget.

* Simply Scratch – Tons of recipes, but I really love her ‘quick and easy’ category.

*Naturally Ella – The blog that just may turn me into a vegetarian. Amazing recipes, with gorgeous pictures. I want to make them all.

*Against All Grain – Easy, delicious, recipes, without the grain.

*Pinch of Yum – If you can get past the gorgeous pictures (I got stuck staring at them for a long time), you will find a ton of simple and yummy recipes.

*Gimme Some Oven – I admit, it was the name that initially drew me in, but once I was in this site, I didn’t want to leave. Tons of great recipes (and pictures).

*Chocolate Covered Katie – My list would be incomplete without this site. It’s one of my favorites, because, well, it’s full of chocolaty, yummy recipes.

There you have it, a few of my favorite simple sites. Wish I had space to list them all. What are your favorite simple meal sites? What is your favorite simple meal?

Please feel free to share this list with others.

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