Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Feeding the Chocolate Vice Without Sugar
The one thing I miss the most being a hypo-glycemic vegan is CHOCOLATE!!  Fortunately, I found RAW BROWNIES on the North Shore of Oahu.  They are made by a very skinny woman who sells them on Sunday mornings at the Haleiwa Farmer’s market .  The important thing to realize is that they contain no sugar and all organic ingredients.  The ingredients being only: dates, walnutes, cacao, and agave.  They are also deliciosos!  Yummy!
In order to justify this sinful habit I also found a supportive argument by Bill Hendrick as to the benefits of raw cocoa (cacao).
I tried a number of recipes in order to make my own.  Here is the final result of experimentation:

Shawna’s Raw Cacao Bars
By Shawna L. Millard
1 cup walnuts
1-1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/3 cup cacao powder (*not cocoa)
¼ tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp agave

Place in food processor one ingredient at a time and blend in between adding ingredients adding agave last, blend until well blended.  Press into lined 9x9 pan and refrigerate at least 1 to 2 hours until bars set up.

Bars will be good for 3 to 5 days.  Can be frozen.

Cocoa Rich in Health Benefits
Cocoa Consumption May Decrease Blood Pressure, Improve Cholesterol, Researchers Say
By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
March 23, 2011 -- Cocoa, used throughout history as a folk medicine, may actually have significant health benefits, according to a new study by Harvard researchers.
Their analysis of 21 studies with 2,575 participants shows that cocoa consumption is associated with decreased blood pressure, improved blood vessel health, and improvement in cholesterol levels, among other benefits.
Eric L. Ding, PhD, of Harvard Medical School says the apparent health benefits come from polyphenolic flavonoids in cocoa that have the potential to prevent heart disease. Flavonoids are antioxidants that are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, tea, wine, and coffee.
Cocoa Flavonoids Good for Cholesterol
In addition to decreasing blood pressure and improving blood vessel health, consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol among people under age 50, and increased good HDL cholesterol, the analysis showed.
Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption also was linked to reductions in risk factors for diabetes -- a major risk factor itself for cardiovascular disease.
Also, resistance to the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar, favorably dropped among people who consumed flavonoid-rich cocoa, compared to people in comparison groups.
Further, consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa did not change triglyceride levels of study participants or make them obese. Triglycerides are a type of blood fat that have been linked to coronary artery disease when levels are elevated above normal.
More Research Needed to Nail Down Benefits of Cocoa
Most of the previous studies analyzed were short-term research projects using mostly sugar-free, dark chocolate.
Ding and his colleagues say in the new study that because most chocolate is high in added sugar and fat, more research is needed to determine the risk-benefit effect on the heart health of eating commercially available chocolate.
Though past studies by Ding and others have found that cocoa may reduce heart attack risk, the dosage necessary to produce this effect is not known, and further research is needed to shed more light on that question, as well as on cocoa’s direct benefits on preventing strokes and heart attacks, according to a news release.
The new research is being presented in Atlanta at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.

* Cacao powder is much better for you, the main differences being that "cacao powder" specifically refers to raw, unsweetened powder. "Cocoa powder," on the other hand, may still have a very small amount of cocoa butter present to enhance the flavor subtly.

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