24 October 2009


Many of you would agree that wine is a good thing.  I am not much of a drinker.  Sort of a light weight when it comes to the appreciation of alcohol.  But, since visiting Italy last year I have come to appreciate wine in a much more extraordinary way.  For one thing, I can get behind what it adds to a fabulous Italian meal.  Italians take their food and wine very seriously.  It is easy to get used to the way they linger over their meal, enjoying and reveling in each others company and of course the spectacular food and wine.  My personal favorite is from the Chianti Region of Tuscany.  This is  Chianti Classico.

Did you know that drinking 1 - 2 glasses of wine per day increases you HDL (good cholesterol) by up to 10%?  Yep.  And it also reduces blood clotting.  Wine contains a very high level of antioxidants and may prevent cancer by limiting tumor growth.  Studies show that it increases life span by 80% and listen up, with cold season upon us; wine helps prevent the common cold!  See!  A good thing.

While we're speaking of good things.  Now THIS is a very good thing.  I have not just recently discovered this.  I have known this innately since I was old enough to stand in my crib and yell, "Me want a bottle of chocolate milk!"

These are organic almonds covered in dark chocolate.  My best friend Helene, who is French, turned me on to these puppies.  The French know all about wine and chocolate and if you don't think so, just ask them.

You have only to go to a store that carries organic foods.  There they have these bulk bins where you can buy, well, you can buy things - in bulk.  First off, let me tell you this.  You've probably heard it before but, it merits being said agin.  "There are four basic food groups:  milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles." Here I will tell you why you should indulge in  dark chocolate.  Besides being my personal favorite, it has amazing health benefits and it's the right thing to do.

You can buy almost anything covered in chocolate here, such as a variety of nuts or fruit.  Now personally, if I'm going to eat fruit I don't want anyone to mess with it.  Not even for the sake of chocolate.  I like my fruit organic, ripe but firm, and fresh.  Very, very, fresh.

Just like this.  Mmmm.  Sweet.
But now,  back to chocolate.

There is a protocol for buying organic, bulk bin chocolate.  It is a little tricky,  if I may warn you.  First you find the bin which says, Organic Chocolate Covered Almonds.  You then tear off a clear sack and place it firmly under the opening of the bin.  You carefully and slowly pull the black lever down and a distribution of chocolate almonds will drop into your bag.  The tricky part is that if you get all over-excited the almonds will fly in an ecstatic explosion into your bag and you will have 10 pounds of those things in under 2 seconds flat.  Now, I'm not saying that wouldn't be  a good thing,  however at $11.95 per pound it could get you in big trouble.  So to repeat:  slowly and carefully, and don't say I didn't warn you.    

Whoops!  Notice that although my daughter got a bit heavy handed with the lever pulling, she is still smiling.  By the by, at Jimbo's in San Diego, the bin number is 347.  Just take the pen provided, mark the little white twisty tie label with the bin number and you are good to go!

While you are at the health food store keep one thing in mind.  My daughter found this out the hard way.  She was reminded of this while we were doing our shopping and revisited it in a most classic fashion in the photo below.  Buyer Beware.  If you try to buy classic junk food at a health food store, with the exception of chocolate covered almonds, which I consider a staple and not a snack food anyway,  I suggest you steer clear of  foods which you may previously have considered treats, such as the Rice Crispy Treat below. These treats are also all natural just like it says on the package.  They have no artificial sweeteners and are low-fat.  I'm not sure what is in them but, they taste like cardboard.  So for those of you looking for a snack that you previously enjoyed, don't get it at a health food store.  Stick to your local Chevron or AM PM.

(Mother to daughter,  "You shoulda just had fruit!")

Now back to wine.

You may be asking yourself, "Self, what do wine and chocolate have to do with each other?"
Well, let me tell you.  Red wine is an antioxidant which has free radicals. It has 8 times more antioxidants than strawberries.  Antioxidants protect the body from aging.  Dark chocolate also has antioxidants.  It stimulates endorphin production which gives you a feeling of pleasure.  It also stimulates serotonin which is an anti depressant.  It is made from plants so has all the healthy benefits of dark veggies.  Now you know and it was my pleasure to inform you.

And here we have what you would see in a perfect world.  These are two of the best things. This is how it should be.  These are Junior Mints.  Junior Mints are my favorite. They are not only a good thing,  they are a good idea. You cannot even get these at a health food store yet but, I am campaigning heavily to get them to carry this particular brand of dark chocolate with peppermint filling.  These are not only delectable but some experts refer to peppermint as brain food.  It actually increases the flow of blood to your brain.  When my children have a big test coming up I always say to them as they exit the car in nervous anticipation of said test, "Don't worry baby, just keep eating those Jr. Mints I packed in your lunch and you will excel on that test."  That's just the kind of mom I am.

Peppermint Junior Mints have been around since 1949.  They are manufactured in Cambridge,  Massachusetts at the Tootsie Factory.  The Tootsie Factory ranks high on my list of places to see on my bucket list.  Did you see the Sinefeld episode where a Junior Mint was dropped into the abdominal cavity of a patient who was having surgery?  It was not I believe, a coincidence that he survived. Overall, this is my favorite food.  If I was to be lost on a deserted island the one thing I would have to take with me is Junior Mints.  And, with God as my witness,  if it takes me the rest of my life, I am going to get health food grocers around the world to carry them.

So, make a list of important things to do today.   At the top of your list write  eat chocolate.  Now you will get at least one thing done today.  You're welcome.

Love you more than all the red wine,  the dark chocolate and the Junior Mints, in the world,


P.S.  Disclaimer.  The statistics and facts contained herin may or may not be completely accurate and were written with the discretion of the author.  Mostly.  But not in every case.  Pretty much, but take my word for it, if you indulge in any of the above, it will be good for your soul.

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