Eat This: For the Love of Chocolate

Chocolate is called the “Food of the Gods”, which could be interpreted in about 100 ways, with all schools of thoughts ending up thinking that chocolate is good for you. But then there’s the “don’t have too much” narrative that really dominates conversations about chocolate. The taunt of marketing that says “bet you can’t just have one”… Wait maybe that’s for chips. Whoops, I’ve just swiped another’s tagline, but you get what I mean, right? The deprivation that I hear from clients when they want to ‘do-better’, eat better and say lose weight, well that conversation usually comes back to chocolate in one way or another. Why does it have such a bad wrap? Is there a dark truth about chocolate? It sure is a conversation that won’t quit. Some lump it into the ‘candy’ category so just eat it in moderation. Then other studies that get highlighted in the media, saying it’s a superfood or the answer to what ails you, only to then find that the headline make it to top 10 lists of myths. 

Is it really all that bad? It can’t be can it as it’s the Taste of the Gods. It’s kind of like there’s a contest going on with it looking like dark chocolate is at the top of the leaderboard in terms of health and it’s goodness, and milk chocolate in the middle often being labeled ‘candy’ and then white chocolate that is not really chocolate at all. 

But come on, it’s chocolate, so what is a person to do?? 

Today on EAT THIS with Lianne – for the love of chocolate. Is it healthy, is it sinful, or is it the answer to you losing weight? My guest, Chocolatier Marie Schlemm and I are going to get to the bottom of it.

Did you know that there are international chocolate awards? Yep, there sure are. And guess what they need every year in order to find the best chocolate, mostly by country? They need taste testers, for which I was one in 2018. Well, let me clarify, I was a part of the first round of tasters making sure what was sent in by the makers was ok. So I wasn’t part of the final tastings, but I can’t even remember how many chocolates I ate in the four hours of tasting. It had to have been 80 chocolate. Some fancy, some plain, some beautifully presented and including some that were too gorgeous to eat. I actually got to a point where I couldn’t eat any more. Imagine that?! Anyone that I shared that with after the fact thought that I had lost my mind.  

When I was younger, I couldn’t eat chocolate because the doctor said that it could contribute to my migraine headaches that I had almost weekly. So while everyone was eating milk chocolate easter bunnies, I had white chocolate everything. I can still taste the waxiness of it all. Ugh. 

Fast forward to now, I’ve become a dark chocolate eater. I’ll eat the odd milk chocolate treat but know that it’s because I fancy something sweet or there’s nostalgia to it. I asked my community on social media what their favourite chocolate was and Valerie shared that she loved the Flake because it reminded her of being in Ireland and having the 99p flake ice cream. I too remember that and have fond memories of being on Brighton beach as a child with this great big Flake sticking out of the ice cream. YUM. It seems that dark chocolate almonds are a favourite of Diego, Janine likes Green & Blacks organic milk as a treat or dark with sea salt as a healthy choice. With that mention of the dark being healthy, and saved when it’s not a guilty pleasure, what is that all about exactly?

It’s not actually the chocolate but the flavanols in chocolate that might have potential benefits. Flavanols are abundant in cocoa beans, which yield cocoa powder, which is then used to make chocolate. And that’s where the health benefit comes from. But it seems that’s where it might end. Or not. Milk chocolate is full of  saturated fats, but really mostly sugar and calories. That’s where chocolate having a bad rep comes from, it’s candy. More so when it has a nougat center or caramel oozing out of it. 

On the flip side I know a lover of chocolate, a chocolatier, Marie Schlemm, who just oozes chocolate and its goodness, even from the first smell. Whaaaaa???

Marie is a wealth of knowledge having got into chocolate in 2004, using it to find her way out of a very dark time in her life. Listen to the episode for her take!

Back to my comments from social media, Mary said: 

Made dark truffles last night with “alter eco” 85% dark (organic and fair trade). Love the dark because I can’t gobble down a whole bar in one sitting. Love lighter ones because they delight my palate–mostly I have to leave the lighter at the grocery store. For brand Cote d’Or. They are a Belgium chocolate maker who uses only fair trade chocolate and make the most palatable dark chocolate. They say a balanced diet is chocolate in each hand.”

Andre’s wife is a pastry chef and shared that “You haven’t had chocolate until you’ve tasted Valrhona chocolate – my wife is a pastry chef – so when we were dating she introduced me to this brand. It’s what many high end pastry shops and restaurants use.”

My go to is choco-sol traders in Toronto. I have their powder, nibs and unroasted or raw chocolate. I now know the difference after what Marie shared. 

With the holiday season approaching, how about we give ourselves a break? A client that I talked to the other day was so hard on herself for eating the cake and the donut from her son’s birthday party and I suggested that she take that weight right off her shoulders and enjoy it! 

We need more joy, to enjoy more, and especially right now. Let’s celebrate with some super yummy chocolate, less of the sugary ones and quite literally let’s expand our chocolate palate, and  EAT THIS one mouthful at a time.

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