Sunday, May 30, 2010


Tonight, I'm outside in the dark, on the computer, watching my kids chase lightening bugs, while I'm savoring a few dark chocolate squares and almonds. Steve is pointing out the big dipper to the kids. Lucas is yelling, "I see it Dad! I see it!" And now he's telling the kids about how sailors used to navigate using the North Star. They see that too! What a beautiful night. Wow.

Back to chocolate... As I'm tasting smooth 70% chocolate squares, I'm remembering my latest visit to Cafe' Chocolate in Lititz, PA. Whenever I go there, it's always a good experience. A couple weeks ago, the owner, Selena, so graciously educated me on the specific health benefits of high quality dark chocolate. Listening to her talk is delightful because she truly enjoys what she does. She said that you can find good quality organic chocolate by reading the ingredients. If the first ingredient is either chocolate liquor or cocoa mass, and there are no artificial ingredients or preservatives or oils (other than pure cocoa butter), then there's a good chance that it's a very high quality chocolate. This is harder to find than I thought. Most grocery store chocolate has as it's first ingredient: sugar or high fructose corn syrup... along with a list of partially hydrogenated oils and artificial vanillin flavor, etc. But I did find some good stuff at Rhubarb's (on Rt. 501) and of course at Cafe' Chocolate.... where they also sell sugar-free chocolate truffles. Here is a portion of an article on her website:

"Chocolate is a good source of magnesium, potassium, copper and calcium. Even better, it contains healthy amounts of flavonoids, so-called phytochemicals that scientists believe may protect against heart disease and other illnesses, says the paper published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. "

Café Chocolate of Lititz

Hours: 11am - 5pm Sunday to Thursday
9am - 9pm Friday & Saturday

Phone: 717.626.0123
Location: 40 E. Main Street | Lititz, PA | 17543
All major credit cards accepted

Always something here to delight you – Chocolate Sweets & savories from around the world

If you're wondering about the percentages of cocoa or chocolate listed on the label, here's a good explanation from
"Chocolate percentage" is an imposing phrase thrown around loosely among chocolate connoisseurs. It refers to the percentage of cocoa mass (aka chocolate liquor), the essence of chocolate, in the chocolate bar itself. More cocoa mass means a higher percentage, darker color, and a more intense chocolate taste. Unsweetened or bitter chocolate contains nearly 100 percent cocoa mass. Semisweet and bittersweet chocolates have added sugar, so their cocoa percentages are a little lower - good quality dark chocolateusually contains a minimum of 50 percent cocoa mass, but can go as high as 85 percent.

The percentage also gives us some idea about the chocolate's sweetness. If a dark chocolate contains 70 percent cocoa mass, it must contain about 30 percent sugar. The chocolate will have an intense chocolate flavor, with just enough sugar to make it palatable. The lower the chocolate's percentage, the higher the percentage of sugar and the sweeter the chocolate will be.

To avoid paying top dollar for a bar of chocolate that could pass as a bar of soap, purchase a reputable brand. Better quality chocolate bars have fewer ingredients, usually only five or six, and use real vanilla (not vanillin or other artificial flavorings).


Amy said...

I don't mean to be contradictory here, but just for the record, I must add that chocolate is no where near being a health food like I would describe a vegetable to be, for example. Both have anti-oxidents, but chocolate is not nutrient-dense in comparison. It is just better for you than most junk food out there. One more thing: I don't have to tell you that chocolate is addictive. I used to be in that trap. Hated it. Psychological prison. There's a real freedom in not needing it... or choosing to have just a few squares like once a week. Who wants to be preoccupied with compulsive thoughts of needing a certain food or substance every day? It can be a real time waster, money waster, catalyst for self-doubt, and it often comes with a load of regret rounded off by the repeated loss of control and all the negative effects that come with the spinning of addiction. You laugh... but it's true. So this is one food that should be eaten in very small portions.

Mary said...

For the fun of it, because I am no expert, I can be happy with thinking that chocolate is healthy. It sure does make a person feel good...if only temporarily.

Amy said...

Mary - Sweet comment. I agree!