Callie’s Cabin: It’s guilt-free chocolate time

Cal Orey
Special to the Tribune
Ice chocolate with cream on wooden background. (Getty Images)

Hello summer! So, this week I’m not dishing up bunny grub. It’s time to whip up a decadent dark chocolate shake for the thrill and chill of it. The key to getting and staying lean is to indulge in your cravings once or twice a week. If you’re not deprived, you’ll be more likely to enjoy a healthy diet.

Enter chocolate. About a decade ago I penned a book on chocolate. Imagine: Two to three times a week I was gifted gourmet chocolate right on my cabin doorstep — brownies to truffles. I lived in chocolate heaven for months. I learned about all the health perks of chocolate.

Known as Mother Nature’s “food of the gods,” the medicinal benefits of chocolate were recognized as far back as 4,000 years ago. A 1.5-ounce bar of quality chocolate has as much antioxidant power as a 5-ounce glass of wine-without the side effects of alcohol. Also, chocolate is chock-full of mood-enhancing ingredients, including phenylethylamine (the “love drug”) which makes you feel oh-so good.

Chocolate can relieve a host of ailments. Read on – I’m sharing just a few merits of chocolate and how it can make you summer even better.

Aches and Pains

What chocolate Rx to use: Try eating an ounce of dark chocolate (60 or 70 percent cacao content to lessen sugar intake). Also teaming this remedy with aerobic exercise (such as walking or swimming) can help loosen tight muscles and improve symptoms of pain.

Why you’ll like it: Chocolate is rich in magnesium, a mineral that can help both muscle pain and stress. Both exercise and dark chocolate boost endorphins – natural painkillers in your body that act on the nervous system to zap pain.

Brain Fog

What chocolate Rx to use: Try an Iced Chocolate (recipe below).

Why you’ll like it: Not only will you get a serotonin boost (a hormone that may be lacking, but the monosaturated fat from both chocolate and nuts may help clear you head so you can be more focused and uplift your spirits and motivation.

Lack of Energy

What chocolate Rx to use: Drink a cup of brewed mocha coffee before you perform your physical performance.

Why you’ll like it: Athletes are all too familiar with the energetic buzz linked to the properties of quality chocolate and java. Not only does it enhance energy, but it also curbs distracting hunger pangs before participating in a physical event. And yeah, brewed coffee contains caffeine (about 85 milligrams per 8-ounce mug), much more than chocolate (1 ounce of semi-sweet dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams of caffeine).

Universal Emergency

What chocolate Rx to use: Put chocolate bars, enhanced healthy protein bars, powders, and pistole. Store these chocolate lifesavers in an airtight container in a cool place with your other emergency supplies.

Why you’ll like it: If you are faced with a thunderstorm, blackout, earthquake or any other natural disaster, having chocolate can boost your mood, calm your nerves, and keep your mind alert thanks to its variety of compounds. It will be a godsend as you cope and get through whatever hits.

This recipe is inspired by all the malt shakes I’ve ordered and savored and loosely based on the version of mixing malt and milk. I gave it a cool California Mediterranean twist and used gelato, nuts, Ghirardelli chocolate and a blender.

Tahoe Iced Chocolate

3-4 tablespoons malt powder (it’s expensive but lasts a long time, get a quality brand)

¼-1/2 cup organic half and half (less makes the shake creamier)

2 1/4 – 2 ½ cups of dark chocolate chip gelato

Whipped cream (optional)

Nuts, chopped (optional)

1 dark chocolate bar or chocolate sauce (go for the gourmet variety)

Ice cubes (add a few if it’s hot outdoors)

Combine malt powder and half and half in a blender. Add gelato and blend. Pour into glass mugs or glasses and put into the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour. Remove. Add a dollop of whipped cream and top with nuts. Drop in ice cubes. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or drizzle with chocolate syrup. Serve at once. Serves 2 to 4. Add spoons and straws.

The verdict? It is rich, creamy, cold and thick. Now I am dreaming of using vanilla bean gelato and drizzle it with gourmet sea salt caramel sauce. Ah, it’s going to be a long, hot summer with treats (in moderation). So, yeah, you can have your chocolate and eat it too.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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