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Cacao

Chocolate is good for you

MONACO LIFESTYLE: I have a confession to make: I’m a chocoholic. Legend has it that I ate so much chocolate during my last pregnancy that I single-handedly kept Ladurée’s place des Moulins branch in business. My post-pregnancy cholesterol levels imposed a six-month chocolate hiatus: by the time I returned to my chocolate obsession, the shop had closed down…

 

At a recent lunch, I found myself tucking into chocolate brownies with children’s author Kate Banks.  As the rich dessert crumbled in our mouths, we both admitted our addiction. It turned out that our daily writing rituals involved slabs of 70% dark chocolate and, moreover, that many of our writer friends adopted similar cocoa-boosted routines. So we began philosophizing in an amateurish way about the link between cocoa and creativity. Could cocoa be to the writer what cocaine is to the rock singer?

 

A recent study by a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School tested 60 old-aged pensioners drinking twice-daily hot cocoa for a month and found a 30% bump in memory and thinking abilities among those who had impaired blood flow to their brains. The study concluded that chocolate helps neurovascular coupling – the link between better blood flow and improved neuronal activity. Of course, my addiction could have to do also with the feel-good factor of the natural anti-depressant phenethylamine that is found in chocolate.

 

workshop

 

To find out more, I go to see The Clever Kitchen nutritionist Susan Tomassini and one of the Clever Cooks, Naomi Buff. This dynamic duo is busy revolutionizing the diets of Monegasque women with their workshops on nutrition and super foods. While Naomi dreams up chocolate delights, Susan runs me through the dietary details of the super food raw chocolate (cacao). Her words are music to my ears. As well as the mood-enhancing and brain-boosting benefits, it seems that cacao is a powerful anti-oxidant (containing high levels of polyphenols). The bad news is that most commercial chocolate is depleted of anti-oxidants as it’s heated to 130° and then packed full of refined sugar, milk and unhealthy fats.

 

To maximize the nutritional value, Naomi manages to keep the cacao raw while transforming it magically into mouth-watering goodies topped with more super foods such as goji berries. She also shows me how to make my own cheat chocolate by mixing carob with coconut oil – it takes less than 30 seconds and the results are extraordinary. To find out these and other secrets, you should attend their 40-euro Valentine’s Day chocolate workshop at The Fairmont hotel. To book a workshop, contact The Clever Kitchen via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thecleverkitchen1 or by email on contact@staging.theclever.kitchen.  

 

Those looking for a fast-food chocolate fix should head to the recently opened haute-couture Belgian chocolate store Pierre Marcolini on 26, boulevard des Moulins (tel: +377 97-98-26-16). The Christian Dior of chocolate-making, Marcolini sources the finest local ingredients such as honey from Haute Provence and violets from Vence. Alternatively, the beautiful inside-and-out Daniele de Winter (http://www.danieledewinter.com) caters for the chocolate-loving health addict with her chocolate-coated cranberries that feed your addiction while making you feel as though you’re still maintaining your diet.

 

Louise Simpson

PHOTO: Susan and Naomi of Clever Kitchen
 

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