CHOCOLATE RULES!

It’s Valentine’s Day.

But who needs an excuse to eat chocolate?

If you know me, you know that I carry dark chocolate with me almost everywhere I go. It’s not that I’m always eating chocolate, it’s just that when I need chocolate, I have it on hand. I also almost always have an apple on hand, but that’s an aside. I say this to establish myself as an authority on chocolate, before offering up the following,

Chocolate Rules:

***BIG GIANT DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or otherwise ‘health expert,’and I do not aim to offer advice, only to share my experiences.

  1. Because I’m always thinking about blood sugar, I choose dark chocolate. Typically it has less sugar and carbohydrates per serving than milk choc., may even contain some fiber, and hip health gurus say (and this is true) that dark chocolate is ‘packed’ with antioxidants (although did you know that the largest single source of antioxidants in the American diet as a whole is coffee???).
  2. So what’s a portion? I think it’s important to look at the nutrition label and decide for oneself. You’ll notice that the portion size listed on a label might contain upwards of 20 grams of carbs. For me, that’s often more than I want to get from chocolate alone. The amount of chocolate I eat at one time depends on so many factors, from what my blood sugar is, to how much insulin I’ve taken, to if I’m going for a walk or to bed. A good rule of thumb that I use is the ‘rule of thumb’. If you notice, your thumb is about the size of 2 blocks of dark chocolate – perfect!
  3. Managing portion size is a great way to afford the dark chocolate habit – Dark chocolate can be expensive! Trader Joe’s typically has some cheaper varieties, but I also browse for sales. At any given time there’s usually a delicious bar on a pretty good sale, which feeds well into…
  4. Variety is key!
  5. Sharing is essential – Dark chocolate is meant for sharing. It’s a great thing to pass around, it’s perforated as if sharing was built into the bar, it makes people smile, and it can really make a meeting feel more like a party.
  6. And shouldn’t life be more like a continual party?

Having diabetes doesn’t mean that a person can’t eat sweets and still be healthy, but it does mean that they need to be really thoughtful about the sweets they choose, how often they eat them, and in what portions.

For me, two squares of dark chocolate is the perfect fix – the period on the end of a meal.

Right now I’m starry-eyed over Chocolove’s Salted Almond Butter Variety, but one of my long time and more artsy favorites is Endangered Species’ Blackberry Sage Variety. The featured image shows my full collection, which rotates regularly.

Thanks for sharing your recommendations with me below – I’m always eager to try something new!

My New Favorite Diabetes “Free Food”

I want to start off by saying that I’ve never liked the term “free food,” whether that refers to an edible’s effect on diabetes management, weight, or anything else one might be concerned with. That disclaimer aside, I use the term to mean a food I can eat without immediately and involuntarily thinking about how it will eventually raise my blood glucose, even if only slightly. The list contains beverages such as water, tea, and coffee (although some people say caffeine has a noticeable effect on their bg, it does not seem to raise mine). I do not add anything to my coffee and put only a splash of unsweetened almond milk in my tea.

Which leads me to my newest craze, and revolution, inspired by a friend of mine who does not have diabetes, but who calls this his, “bedtime drink.”

Whole Foods Brand Unsweetened Almond Milk, heated.

It’s just that simple.

I heat it until it’s almost boiling, like as hot as I would drink tea. If it’s right before bed I have it plain. If it’s earlier in the day I’ll stir in a little bit of unsweetened cocoa (antioxidants!) and then sprinkle, carefully, a dash of cayenne on top.

It’s not a sweet drink, and the carbs are minimal: 2 – 3 grams max. My favorite thing to pair it with, depending on my blood sugar, is 2 blocks of any number of varieties of dark chocolate.

I don’t do the cocoa and cayenne at night because they keep me awake. Also, for people who are sensitive to spice, cayenne can be hard on the stomach. After working at an Indian restaurant for two years and learning to enjoy vindaloo sauce, I learned to love spicy.

Lest you be concerned that I’m promo’ing Whole Foods arbitrarily, this brand in particular is my jam because it does not contain carrageenan, which is an additive derived from seaweed that has been linked to cancer in some studies.

Please note (aka Disclaimer #2): I am not a dietician/nutritionist/or otherwise medical expert. My posts are not meant to advise, but rather to simply share my experiences.