Thursday, April 27, 2006


A daily dose of chocolate could help prevent heart diseases, according to the latest research. It has to be dark, bitter chocolate, though. The anti-oxidants from chocolate might prevent the narrowing of blood veins.

A Swiss research team reached this conclusion after a test performed on a group of 20 volunteers, all of them smokers without health problems. The participants were asked not to eat any other kind of anti-oxidant rich aliments -such as apples, onions, broccoli or cabbage- and they were given afterwards 40 grams of different types nf chocolate.

Tests performed two hours after consuming the chocolate, confirmed that dark chocolate, with a cocoa mass of at least 74%, improved the blood flow. Following tests showed that the risk of blood clots had decreased by half. Unhappily, white chocolate –my favorite- did not achieve the same results. Apparently, dark chocolate has the largest amount of anti-oxidants per gram between the foods famous by their anti-oxidant power -red vine, green tea or forests fruits, to name a few.

I am sharing this with you as I have read it. Probably more research needs to be done to confirm the results. So don’t leap for the chocolate bar just yet.

Chocolate contains, it is true, many anti-oxidant compounds. Remember that is also carries large amounts of fats and sugars. This could lead to weight problems when consumed in excess. What is more, chocolate is tough on the liver. Consuming too much could create a problem as bad as the one being prevented.

Adjust the portion to your weight and level of physical activity. Very active people can have chocolate without any fear of excessive weight gain. People sitting all day on a chair and not doing any kind of sports cannot afford the luxury of eating too much chocolate. Sometimes we crave sweets, and when we are cold, tired, or worn out we can give in a little bit; otherwise the chocolate portion should be minimal.

And, remember, if you are seeking heart benefits, it has to be dark chocolate. Milk chocolate or white chocolate do not –sob- have the same effect.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Salad with Middle Eastern Flavor

A traditional dish from the north of Africa and Middle East reinvented. A meal in a dish and another option for a packed lunch as it can be served warm or at room temtperature.

1 can garbanzo beans (15 oz net weight)
3 cup cooked couscous
1/2 lb ground lamb
1 cup cooked and shelled green broad beans or shelled edamame

Super Quick Couscous
3/4 cup dry pre cooked couscous
3/4 cup + 2 tbs water, salt to taste
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter

1 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tbs water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
4 tbs olive oil

Super Quick Couscous

  1. Set the couscous in a pan that can go to the microwave or oven and that has a lid. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Add salt to the water and heat it to the boiling point. If you do this in the microwave, it would take under two minutes on high. Remember to introduce a plastic spoon or wooden stick, it would help you stirring it afterwards and it is an extra precaution to prevent the liquid from exploding if you overheat it.
  3. Pour the boiling liquid over the couscous, cover and let it stand five minutes.
  4. "Dry" the couscous by introducing the covered pan ten minutes in a preheated oven, at medium, or microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power.
    Add a the butter and fluff with a fork while the butter melts.


  1. In a salad bowl set the vinegar, sugar, salt cumin and coriander. Mix. Sugar and salt will begin to dissolve. Add the olive oil and mix with a fork or tablespoon until you get the consistency of a vinaigrette.


  1. Pour the warm couscous into the salad bowl with the dressing and mix.
  2. Drain and wash the garbanzo beans. Defrost the broad beans. Add to the salad bowl.
  3. Season the ground lamb with salt and pepper and shape it into small meatballs -measure a heaped teaspoon and shape into a ball.
  4. Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil or use an olive oil spray. Lamb usually has plenty of fat on its own. Cook the meatballs -small ones usually cook in two to three minutes. Be sure they are thoroughly cooked.
  5. Add to the salad bowl and mix. You can serve immediately or let it rest to blend the flavors. Best served warm or to room temperature

    Preparation time: 15 minutes
    Cooking time: 15 minutes
    Ready in: 30 minutes

    Brunch, Main Dish, Salad, Spring, Summer

Cooking Tips

You can substitute the lamb meatballs by frozen turkey meatballs, just follow the package coking instructions.

I have seen this plate served chilled, but some people do not like cold meatballs> If you plan to serve this salad chilled, use cooked chicken breast or cooked ham.

Recipe Source
Source: All Foods Natural, Allabor free recipes