Pure, I mean PURE, chocolate

July 10, 2009

I’ve been on this carb-restricted way of eating for well over 3 months now.  I continue to be amazed by the lack of hunger, the indulgent foods (butter! cheese! salad dressing!) and how easy it’s been to stick to. I’ve not had cravings, or the carb-flu or any other bad effects frankly.

Hardest for me has been giving up the fruit.  And the copious quantities of veggies that I’ve eaten for, gee, forever.  I still eat veggies, but I don’t go hog-wild on them (I have more meat if I’m still hungry).  And fruit is a Special Treat now.  I haven’t had an apple or orange in months, and almost all the fruit I have had has been berries.  Usually (but not always) in small quantities.  And often served with cream. (Jealous? Well, I’m not eating ANY bread and I live in Paris, so I suffer too…)

But my go-to stress reliever and diet-trick extraordinaire for years has been dark chocolate.  I have kept high-quality, expensive gourmet bars in stock at all times.  At home, at the office, in my suitcase.  In Summer I have to pay more attention, but knowing that I have Good Chocolate that I can have just a square or two from has kept me able to say ‘no thank you’ to tons of processed snacks and bulk-produced desserts over the years.  Plus, if you read the news, you always see that dark chocolate is healthy, right?  Flavinoids and all.  Whatever, it’s delicious and satisfying, and I am lucky to be one of those people who can eat a square or two and put it away (a big chocolate binge for me is like 4-5 squares).  So it’s always been part of my diet.

Until I read Good Calories, Bad Calories and it convinced me to give low-carb eating a go.  So out went the chocolate.

But recently as my husband has been hitting the cherries, the blueberries, the apricots, the peaches after dinner as his treat, I’ve been trying to find what will be MY treat.  When it was strawberry season I could indulge with him, but now? I’d been feeling a bit deprived.  I actually started to buy the mascarpone cheese when it was still strawberry season – because having fat with carbs slows down the insulin spike, so I would spoon out a bit and dip my berries into it.

And then a few weeks ago I hit on an idea.  Take the mascarpone cheese (which is really pretty much pure dairy fat with no flavor) and add a spoonful of cocoa powder.  We happened to have cocoa powder from one of the best chocalatiers in Paris at home (bought for some holiday recipe) … the result was : AMAZING.

Now, bear in mind I’ve always liked DARK chocolate, this is the key.  And I am doing the low-carb thing without artifical sweeteners (which I stopped using about 6 years ago and wasn’t going to add back just because I cut out carbs).  So basically I just never taste sweet anymore.  My few cheats since being on this diet have always had me putting the spoon down quickly when it comes to dessert, because they just taste cloying to me.

So pure cocoa powder (no sugar, no sweeteners) with the mascarpone cheese mixed together has been a rich, wonderful godsend.  Okay, it’s calorically dense and rich and indulgent, but it’s virtually carb-free and I don’t take very much in quantity (maybe 2-3 tablespoons total, of which 1 tsp or so is cocoa powder).

Last weekend my wonderful, under-appreciated, very attentive and quite cute husband took me into one of the good chocolate shops near his office and they had 99% cocoa chocolate disks.  I’ve actually had these before and next to sugared chocolate found them too harsh, but now?  Divine.  I mean, DIVINE. And very low carb to boot.

Full of cancer-busting flavinoids and stress-reducing anti-oxidants and all the other feel-good factors I think I deserve, but also consistent with my diet and as always – a little bit is enough.

Today?  Feeling a little stressed, I had BOTH the mascarpone/cocoa mixture and also several disks of the 99% variety.  And stayed on my “diet”.

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