Monday, April 19, 2010

CHOCOLATE - The light and dark of it!

We all love chocolate and most of our kids are raised with the addiction too! Is it a bad thing?
Well, I believe that food is certainly about our health and nourishment but it is also about pleasure and enjoyment. That’s why quality is so important. How many of us would much rather enjoy a small plate of beautifully prepared and cooked food than one overflowing with cheap, ill prepared food?

Chocolate can be great, chocolate can be ok and chocolate can be awful. Again, it’s all about the quality.
Chocolate is made from the fermented, roasted, and ground beans taken from the pod of the tropical cacao tree and is made primarily of cocoa solids and cocoa fat. The different flavours of chocolate are obtained by varying the time and temperature when roasting the beans, by adjusting the ratio of the cocoa solids and cocoa fat, and by adding non-chocolate ingredients.
The interesting factor in chocolate making (like much of food manufacturing) is that production cost is significantly decreased by reducing cocoa solid content or by substituting cocoa butter with a non-cocoa fat (such as hydrogenated vegetable oil). Therein lies the problem with most of the chocolate kids consume.

Most ‘kids’ chocolate (such as many Easter eggs, cheap chocolate bars etc) is this compound chocolate which is made from cheap hard vegetable fats and tropical fats such as coconut oil and palm kernel oil in place of the more expensive cocoa butter. It is this type of chocolate that our kids are exposed to more than any other. And its this type of chocolate that our kids think of when they think of chocolate.
When we are told chocolate is good for us it doesn't mean this type of chocolate!
The type of chocolate that is good for us has at least 70% cocoa. It is dark, has few ingredients besides cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter and sometimes vanilla and melts in your mouth. The added benefit of eating good quality, dark chocolate is that it is rich and difficult to eat too much of it! A little bit goes a long way and moderation is always the key!

So get your kids trying dark, finest quality chocolate. Most organic and fair trade chocolate is good chocolate and many small chocolate shops sell quality too.
If the taste is too strong for them, simply get them trying it a little at a time and exploring the flavours. Use it in cooking and keep away from the other stuff till they adjust! They'll soon be begging for more!

Do your kids love dark chocolate? Are you trying to switch them over or do you love milk chocolate yourself? Tell me your thoughts.