Monday, November 1, 2010

The healing properties of Chocolate and Sweets

We are told everyday to watch what we eat then in the next instant we are told to buy processed food because it saves all our valuable time to do whatever we have to do and forgo healthy eating to do it.  We rush around, forget about eating at a table, without TV, with our kids, parents, nephews, cousins, friends, dogs, cats, hamsters.  We pop a tv dinner in the microwave and presto instant food.  What happened to spending time in the kitchen cooking with your kids, parents, nephews, cousins, dogs, cats and hamsters.  Sharing your time with them creating something that keeps us alive.

As a pastry chef and budding chocolatier I hear it all the time - not for me thanks, watching my weight, can't have sugar, not part of my diet, can't have butter - saturated fat.  But what do those people eat mostly - burgers, red meat, processed food, cereals, juice boxes, yogurt with out of season fruit, from God knows where.

People ask me all the time how I don't weigh 300 pounds, well my secret is that I do weigh about 10 pounds too much, sometimes 15 pounds too much, but for the most part, I don't eat processed food.  I don't eat man-made food like margarine.  I eat good quality food.  And I'm active.  I'm not perfect, there are days when I know I should lay off the bon-bons and the butter - and I do.   

When I do eat sweets, it's made with real butter, unbleached flour, quality dark chocolate (which is low in fat and sugar), whole eggs...etc.  Because I eat foods that are rich in whole ingredients, no fillers, I don't need to eat as much to feel satisfied.

I also buy my ingredients from a real butcher, a vegetable importer who just sells fresh fruits and vegetables, a fish monger, I get my flour and fresh yeast from a baker and yes, I get my chocolate from a chocolate importer.

I don't think there is anything wrong with eating dessert, in moderation, nothing wrong with eating fries in moderation.  And I believe if you are going to eat calories and fat in those amounts, make it good, don't settle.  I used to go down for a chocolate bar almost every day, doesn't happen anymore, because my palate tells me that the cheap Hershey's chocolate is mostly wax, palm oil and sugar.  I would rather wait until the new shipment of Ecuadorian chocolate comes in next week and eat the combination of pure cocoa butter, cocoa liquor and the hint of sweetness.

I say let's all start to say no to processed foods!  Let's learn to cook, just one meal a week and share it with our kids, parents, nephews, cousins, friends, dogs, cats and hamsters.  Let's all reconnect with humanity and partake in preparing a meal and eating that meal without tvs, ipods and Playstations.  I dare you.

Here's a recipe for a very simple tomato sauce to pour over any kind of pasta.  You can make a lot of it at once and freeze the leftovers.  
Tomato Sauce al a Heston Blummenthal

2 pounds     Ripe Tomatoes
3                Star Anise
1tbsp.         Whole Coriander Seed
3                Whole Cloves
2                Bay Leaves
2 tbsp.        Olive Oil
4                Shallots, diced
to taste       Salt and Pepper


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato and drop into boiling water for 15 seconds.  Remove from water and the skin will come right off.  Cut tomatoes into chunks. 

Heat oil in large pot or heavy bottom pan.  Sweat the shallots.  Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Turn down heat to low.  Place all spices except bay leaves into a piece of cheese cloth or a coffee filter, tie with a string and toss into tomatoes.  Toss in bay leaves.  Cook on low heat for about 2 hours.  When cooked and very fragrant, toos out the spice bag (sachet) and remove bay leaves, season with salt and pepper. 

You can use this for soup (just put in blender and add chicken stock), over pasta, add to a meat sauce.  ENJOY.


  1. Jen, you don't know how much sense that makes. When I was a kid (last week?) I thought that the best times I had was in my Grandmas kitchen. Eat well!

  2. We've slowly got out of the habit of sitting together at the table, although we do tend to do a fair bit of cooking. It's now slow cooker time so we'll be heading home quite often to wonderful aromas and should try to actually sit at the table rather than the couch more often. However, we don't have hamsters to join in the fun.