Chocolate - A Guilty Pleasure or a Healthy Addition?


 

If you want to justify eating chocolate, go online and google the health benefits of chocolate. You’ll find loads of ways this confectionery is good for you, from heart protection to dealing with pain. It really sounds too good to be true….

 

Yet, let’s face it, the number one reason we love chocolate isn’t because you’re on a health kick – it’s because it tastes so good!

 

Science or Smiles?

 

Not only that, but the act of eating chocolate is so deliciously wonderful, you just can’t help feeling amazing as you devour it. Scientists say this is due to the fact that it has a supporting role in the production of dopamine, the ’feel good’ hormone. For us mere mortals, the science bit doesn’t really matter – all you need to know is when you slip a piece of silky smooth chocolate into your mouth and feel it slowly melt, the absolute chocolateness of it can’t help but make you smile.

 

 

Chocolate in the Spotlight

 

With National Chocolate Week looming, there’s never been a better time to indulge in the joys of eating chocolate. Okay, so you don’t need an excuse, but if chocolate is your guilty pleasure, it’s a great time to come out of the closet and pander openly to your passion.

 

This isn’t the only time of year the food comes into the limelight – in fact, World Chocolate Day is celebrated on July 7th – another great excuse to eat chocolate. This special date marks the day it was introduced into Europe. Thank goodness for the sanity of all Europeans that began this craze nearly 500 years ago – where would we be today if not?

 

To cap it all off, there’s even an International Chocolate Awards, which this year is being held at the start of National Chocolate Week, right here in the UK. We wonder what will be on the menu at that dinner?

 

A Reason to Celebrate

 

Chocolate offers a reason to celebrate. Any occasion can be made more memorable by just adding chocolate to the mix. Traditionally, it’s given for birthdays, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, but don’t limit your imagination, or your taste buds, to just these days.

 

To give you a hand thinking of a reason to guiltlessly enjoy chocolate, we’ve come up with our favourite ways and days to enjoy a little morsel every so often…

 

1. Chocolate and chilli – somehow, these two ingredients just rock together! Adding a chunk to your favourite chilli-con-carne gives the mince dish a wonderfully smooth and silky richness. Or if you like something sweet with a kick, try this chilli chocolate ice-cream.

 

 

2. Movies – going to the cinema is the time to sit and nibble, so what better sweet delight to take with you than chocolate? If you’re a bit of a traditionalist, why not try chocolate popcorn?

 

3. Keep it calm – it’s back to those scientists again! This time it’s about how chocolate could keep you calm and contented. Apparently it’s all to do with polyphenols in chocolate, but all you need to concentrate on is the feeling of bliss you get when you take your first bite…

 

4. Make every day a celebration – don’t wait for your birthday to come around! Make every day special with a sliver of chocolate. Use it as an excuse to sit back, shut out the world and relax for a few minutes, while letting your senses be swayed.

 

5. Get bonding – what better way to spend time with your kids or family then making chocolate cookies, or a great big chocolate cake? Not only is the act of baking a great way to bond with your children, but sitting down together to enjoy the fruits of your labour rounds off the occasion perfectly.

 

 

6. Impress your guests – if you love having friends over for dinner parties, what better way to finish the evening, and impress all your mates, than to end with a sumptuous chocolate soufflé or fondant. Amid the “ohhs”, “ahhs”, and “yum-yums”, they’ll be singing your praises. What a genius you are!

 

7. Show others you care – when someone does you a good turn, what finer way to thank them than with a bar of chocolate? Even better, make it personalised and show them just how much you care.

 

8. The countdown is on – everyone is used to having an advent calendar for Christmas stuffed full of chocolates, but did you know you can also get chocolate-inspired countdowns for all sorts of other occasions? Whether you’re going on holiday, your friend’s getting married, or there’s a big birthday looming, help make it extra special by giving an advent card with a difference.

 

 

9. Gift giving – chocolate isn’t restricted to bars or little wrapped sweets. Now, you can give the gift of chocolate in novelty ways that suit different personalities. Forget the obligatory bunch of flowers as well; instead, give someone the opportunity to grow chocolate-scented flowers. (Yes, there really are flowers that smell like chocolate!) Perhaps they’re artistic? No problem – a chocolate brush and paint set should hit the brief nicely!

 

Let’s face it, when it comes to chocolate, you really don’t need an excuse to indulge your passion. Nothing beats quality chocolate for hitting the right spot and nothing else comes close to showing how much you care. Hold your head up high and be proud – you’re a chocolate lover!