Chocolate makes the world go round…or at least mine :-)

It is amazing how a little bit of chocolate = a lot of happiness. This is all linked to the release of chemicals in our brain that relay “happiness”, but science aside…I love chocolate. Interestingly enough an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine was just recently published that showed an association between regular intake of chocolate and a  lower Body Mass Index (BMI). It was the frequency not the quantity of chocolate that the researchers from the University of California, San Diego found to be tied with BMI status. Previous studies have found that certain kinds of chocolate improve factors related to metabolism, including blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity; this may be due to the fact that chocolate is rich in antioxidant phyonutrients like catechins and flavinoids. Yet, people trying to lose weight tended to avoid chocolate because of its high calorie count, and the fact it is a…*gasp* sweet. While chocolate will not help one lose weight, it goes back to the fact that we shouldn’t single out one thing (like fat or desserts) and label all as bad. Good, quality food has a  lot of nutrients that our bodies want and need. I thank my lucky stars every day that chocolate is one of them (dark being more beneficial than milk – the addition of milk to chocolate may block the ability of the body to absorb the antioxidants present in chocolate)!! Also, overtly process chocolate is not as beneficial to your health, because like most processed foods…the more something is processed the less nutritious it becomes.

My lovely roommate gave me some chocolate yesterday imported from Germany (hand imported by her husband and his recent trip back to his homeland *smiles*) and it is almost gone. Moderation is key, but sometimes the chocolate cravings win out. Random note: chocolate cravings may be linked to magnesium levels which is why it is hypothesized that chocolate cravings and PMS are linked (a time when a woman’s magnesium levels are generally lower!) Love when science and my body work together *laughs*

 

Advertisements

Weeknight Mexicana Salad

With all the work hours lost to the black hole I liked to call the last 5 days of sickness, I needed a quick but tasty fix: enter a Tex-Mex inspired salad. Lots of color…lots of flavor…super fast…and pretty healthy (As you can see even the dog was drooling over it!). Serves 4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cook Time: 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 head of romaine lettuce (when I am feeling extra hungry I use a whole…but small…head of lettuce per serving)
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or I like to use this recipe if you have these spices at home)
  • 1 avocado (divided into fourths and sliced)
  • 1 cup corn (fresh or frozen and thawed is the best, but canned is fine, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (again if you are using canned, drain and rinse)
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or ranch dressing (3 tablespoons per serving)
  • Blue Tortilla chips (I love the Garden of Eatin’ Organic chips!)

Directions:

  • Chop up the romaine lettuce and spread out equally into four large plates or blows.
  • In a large non-stick skillet. Brown the turkey, breaking up into small chunks as it cooks. Add in seasoning and 3/4 a cup of water and simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until sauce is thick. Top lettuce with seasoned ground turkey.
  • Mix the corn and black beans together and add 1/2 of the mixture to each plate.
  • Place the sliced avocados on each salad.
  • Use salsa and sour cream (or ranch) as dressing and top with crumbled tortilla chips (I use about 1 handful per plate).

Enjoy this super simple, easy weeknight recipe. It is a great alternative to taco night, with the same flavors and the crunch but with more greens. Just changing the ratio! *smiles* This salad can also be topped with fresh tomatoes, onions (I prefer red in this salad), black olives, and shredded cheese for some variety.