Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cocoa for the heart

There's a nice little article in the August 30th Time magazine titled "Chocolate for the Heart."  It reports that a new study done in Sweden found that those who ate chocolate once or twice a week had a 32% lower risk of heart failure. However, those who ate chocolate every day lost the benefit, probably because of the fats.

I kind of like my chocolate daily, so what about cocoa powder? I buy Sharffen Berger brand which is about 20% cocoa butter - that's much less fat than regular chocolate.

Here's a report about an older study (2003) on the benefits of cocoa:

In their study, Lee and colleagues performed a complicated chemical analysis of cocoa, black tea, green tea, and red wine, finding that cocoa had the highest levels of antioxidants, twice as high as red wine, and nearly three times stronger than green tea:

  • Cocoa had 611 mg of phenols and 564 mg of flavonoids.

  • Red wine had 340 mg of phenols and 163 mg of flavonoids.

  • Green tea had 165 mg of phenols and 47 mg of flavonoids.

  • Black tea had 124 mg of phenols and 34 mg of flavonoids.

"These results suggest that cocoa is more beneficial to health than teas and red wine in terms of its higher antioxidant capacity" and ability to fight damage leading to heart disease and cancer, writes Lee.

One caveat: "Even though a bar of chocolate exhibits strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits are still controversial because relatively large amounts of saturated fats are present," Lee says. "However, a cup of hot cocoa has a much lower level of saturated fats (0.3 g per serving) than a bar of chocolate (8 g per 40 g bar)."

Heat may help trigger release of more antioxidants, Lee writes. The new finding makes hot cocoa a compelling addition to our kitchen arsenal of cancer and heart-disease fighting foods.

(Ki Won Lee, PhD, a food science researcher with Seoul National University in South Korea. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry)

Here's how I use (and love) cocoa powder:

Hot chocolate - see my recipe here

Chocolate Banana Smoothie - so much better tasting than a chocolate milk shake!

Recipe for one serving:

Add to blender:

  • Half of a frozen banana (or fresh - just add more ice)

  • 1 TBS or so of good quality cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of regular, soy or almond milk

  • A couple teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute if desired

Blend to liquify and add ice cubes until thick.
Sometimes I add a spoonful of peanut butter.

Chocolate banana ice cream

You need a high power blender for this like a vitamix.

Put 3 or 4 frozen bananas in blender. Add 3 TBS good quality cocoa powder, 2/3 cup of cream or regular, soy or almond milk. Add sugar if desired. Blend until smooth.

We had this tonight along with strawberry ice cream and no dairy no sugar cherry ice cream - using my Five Minute Ice Cream recipe.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two pictures you have to see

A friend shared this experience with me yesterday.

She said that a woman she knows was riding in the car with two grandchildren. In an effort to keep them entertained she handed them two magazines and told them to look through them and then trade. After a few minutes her little grandson started laughing and said, "look Grandma, this kitty really really has to go to the bathroom!"

She had the children exchange magazines and immediately her grandson started laughing again. He said, "Look grandma, this lady has to go to the bathroom too!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bauer the Beautiful

Our 16th grandchild was born today! He makes our group perfectly even - 8 boys and 8 girls, although we've been heavily weighted on the boys the past few years (6 born in 2008-2010).

Here's why I call him Bauer the Beautiful
(click to view video)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

YouTube lift

Here's a few inspirational and fun videos on YouTube

The fun theory:

I also like Pass it On TV Spots

These are great - and you can download them ("Download Now" in the left column)!

My favorite one is "Concert"

Monday, August 9, 2010

I even like canning

We have an off and on apricot tree.

This year it was on, big time.

The fruit was so beautiful and organic and colorful that I just had to keep it.

So Reid and I bottled apricots, apricot jam, apricot butter, and apricot nectar. The jam is the best I've ever tasted. I made it the old fashioned way with no pectin and low sugar.

Here's the recipe from the new Williams Sonoma book, The Art of Preserving (bought at Costco for 17.99):

3 lb apricots
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Halve and pit apricots. In a large nonreactive bowl combine apricots and sugar. Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight in refrigerator.

Prepare hot sterilized jars and lids.

Transfer apricot mixture to a large nonreactive saucepan and add lemon juice. Bring to simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently until most of the liquid has evaporated and the jam is thick (15-20 minutes).

Ladle hot jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace/ wipe rims and seal tightly with lids. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes for pints (10 for half pints).

To know if the jam is ready, I put a little on a plate that's been cooled in the freezer. If it kind of wrinkles rather than runs when I drag a finger through it, it's ready

I’m enjoying sewing lately

I'm not sure why

My projects this summer (so far):

  • king sized bed skirt

  • throw pillows

  • completely recovered my outdoor sectional

  • two pillow case dresses for 5 year old Taylor (and one for Tessa and one for Emily waiting to be sewn)

  • two sets of window toppers plus throw pillows for Jenny

  • sort of sewed, sort of wrapped window seat pillows for Julia's new more grown up room (age 13)

I used to sew quite a bit when the family was young.

And up until my mission (or maybe my dissertation) I made special quilts for each new baby.

I always enjoyed sewing and I've kind of missed it.

There seems to be a return to crafting lately among young mothers and I love it. Why? maybe the economy?

I think it's a good thing. We all need creative outlets.

Here's a fabulous video on the need for creating.

One reason for my return to sewing are the great new fabrics that are available and the ease of finding them by shopping online. I love! It's the easiest and cheapest way to find fun fabrics.

Here's what I just ordered - maybe to sew a tablecloth for outside and some tiered ruffle skirts for the little girls.

And the price???

Only $3.95 per yard with a 20% off coupon on top of that plus free shipping!

I just found a few pictures of my sewing projects.

Jenny's living room decor

Taylor's pillowcase dress - oh and that's my recovered outdoor sectional in the background

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

5 minute ice cream

Yes really!

And it is the best ice cream ever!

You can get the recipe and see a video here.

You need a good strong blender like a vitamix. Just add a package of frozen fruit (12-14 oz), 1/2 cup or less of sugar, and 2/3 cup cream, yogurt, coconut milk or soy milk (I'm going to try out skim milk soon). Then just blend until relatively smooth. It will be soft serve but you can freeze it for a few hours if you like firmer ice cream.

Here's the flavors we've tried:

Mango - fabulous (reminds me of the 4 mango trees we had in our yard during our mission)

Cherry with a drop of almond extract - my husbands absolute favorite. It's unbelievable with hot fudge sauce - tastes like a chocolate covered cherry.

Apricot - cream is great and I tried using plain yogurt and less sugar to make it tart. Loved it!

Chocolate banana - delicious. I just added 3 TBS of good quality cocoa powder.

That's all for now but I have fresh pineapple chunks in the freezer to try that flavor next.

Beezus and Ramona

Reid and I just saw the movie Beezus and Ramona with our cute little granddaughter Sylie (and Karenin, her Mom). I used to read Ramona stories to the 5 Js when they were little. Such fun!

The movie was darling. I loved every minute of it - mostly because Ramona's features and mannerisms reminded me so much of  our little Emily - another granddaughter. I don't know if these pictures show the resemblance. But they are very very alike.

Actress Joey King