Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guilt-free Chocolate Pudding

After realizing that my daily frozen yogurt habit was bad for both my wallet and my weight, and take-home pinkberry is not for people who don't have portion control, I knew I needed to find some type of chocolate, liquidy dessert that would satisfy my nightly cravings- quickly!

This Guilt-free Chocolate Pudding recipe basically saved me.  Sans saturated fat as it skips butter or cream, this recipe relies on pure cocoa for its rich flavor.  The unsweetened chocolate also allows you to monitor the added sugar.  I'm not gonna lie, its not the best chocolate pudding I've ever had in my life, but its pretty damn good...and the texture is spot-on.  No calorie kvetching here.



Guilt-free Chocolate Pudding:
Ingredients
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (not processed alkalai, aka "dutch cocoa")
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups skim milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat milk for 2 minutes
2. Mix together dry ingredients
3. Add dry ingredients to milk and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir, then cook at 30-60 second intervals if necessary. (I had to microwave for 4 minutes total afterward, so don't be frustrated if it takes a few tries to change the texture from liquid to solid.)
4. Stir in vanilla.
5. Cover, chill

MORE praise for chocolate
I've already listed the benefits of chocolate in a previous post- the antioxidant polyphenol galore- but there's even more new evidence linking chocolate with positive health benefits.  Up until now, scientists understood that polyphenols boosted HDL, the "good" cholesterol, and decreased LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. But they didn't know exactly how the polyphenols carried out these heart-healthy effects.

It turns out that the polyphenols enhance sterol regulatory element protein production, which attach to DNA and activate genes that boost the protein production of HDL and lower it in HDL.  Furthermore, polyphenols inhibit aggregation, or blood platelet clumping, which reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (dangerous thickening of arty walls due to fatty build-up.) Chocolate also has blood-thinning properties, which prevent the clotting that plays a key role in heart attacks and strokes.

And it makes you feel good!  Chocolate (remember, the darker the better) contains anandamine, a naturall brain chemical that triggers elation and and exhilaration. Finally, chocolate boosts serotonin levels.  So go ahead: have your chocolate, protect your heart, boost your mood, and eat it too.

Sources:
Kantrowitz, Jonathan. "New Explanation for Heart-healthy Benefits of Chocolate." Health News Report. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. <http://healthnewsreport.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-explanation-for-heart-healthy.html>.
Robbins, John. "Chocolate's Startling Health Benefits." The Huffington Post. 22 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-robbins/chocolates-startling-heal_b_825978.html>.

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