What do you think of when you hear or read the word chocolate? My mind immediately has this image of chocolate brown goodness with nuts and gooey caramel inside. For some, chocolate equals calories, which leads to weight gain. Others with a history of diabetes in the family tend to shy away from this heavenly goodness. But despite the negative association of chocolate to weight gain and diabetes, it also has plenty of health benefits. Eating chocolates lowers cholesterol levels, prevents cognitive decline and reduces cardiovascular problems.
Let’s face it, Valentines or not chocolate is included (or tops) our 5 favorite foods list. Lucky are those who live in or near California as some of the best chocolatiers are in this area. So don’t get confused, as here are tips to buying great chocolate in California.
- Check the label.
Check the ingredients of the chocolate. If you do not recognize most of the ingredients on the list, you may want to check out another chocolate bar. Cocoa solids or byproducts are signs of good chocolate. The higher cocoa content, the darker the chocolate. Dark chocolates contain less fat and sugar. Santa Barbara Chocolate has what they call, “Diabetic Chocolate”- sugar-free with no added sweeteners.
- Choose recently produced chocolates.
Check the chocolate’s date of manufacture. The more recent the manufacturing date, the fresher it is. Do not buy aged chocolates as chocolates lose their quality and taste the longer you stock them.
There are chocolates that you have to buy per block or by weight. Check the appearance of these chocolates first. Do they have a glossy surface and free from flaws? If so, these are fresh or recently produced goodies. However, if you notice them as discolored or scarred, it means the chocolates were already subjected to extreme temperature change maybe during delivery or in storage.
Chocolates should be in a properly- sealed wrapper. Light and moisture spoil our precious chocolates, so packaging is essential, as we do not want to be surprised by spoilt chocolate. It can also be a plus to see visually appealing wrappers or chocolates in elegant boxes.
- Expensive does not always mean delicious.
Do not base your choice upon the price. Some chocolates are priced reasonably but taste way better than the expensive ones. Consider your preference when choosing. Do you like the creamy milk chocolate? Or you prefer rich dark chocolates? There are lots of variety, from plain ones to those with nuts, caramel, and marshmallows.
Remember, everything in excess is bad. Chocolates are delicious and even have health benefits. But hold on to your sweet tooth and do not get too excited to wipe out these bars and boxes of chocolates in one sitting. As I am sure, we are all aware too much sweets also cause a toothache, tonsillitis and yes, even weight gain. So keep it in moderation. Satisfy your sweet tooth and cravings without putting your health at risk.