Dark Chocolate: A Perfect Gift

Cocoa Nibs-an addition to many recipes

Who doesn't like chocolate? There aren't many people who will admit to not liking the silky, smooth taste of heaven but there will be those who try to avoid eating it because they feel guilty!

But first, imagine opening a bar of dark chocolate. The richness of the colour sets your taste buds drooling immediately. You break off a piece and place it in your mouth. The brittleness of the breaking of the chocolate contrasts with the sensation you feel when it enters your mouth. The smoothness of the texture as it melts slowly conjures up all kinds of nostalgic associations and  sentiments.

Eat Chocolate for a Food Hug

You associate the taste with a chocolate heaven treat you may have received as a child, a reward for being well-behaved or a gift for a special occasion. The taste conjures up feelings of happiness, of a relaxed and secure time in your life.

But why does the chocolate have such Dark Chocolate HeavenCredit: flickr.coma positive effect on you?

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has the effect of releasing endorphins into the brain and this either releases negative psychological effects or increases positive feelings. That is, eating chocolate affects your mood.

Comfort Food

Chocolate is often the most popular comfort food you will reach for if you're feeling miserable and it is a response to emotional stress. It is easy to buy in most grocery stores or supermarkets, most of us will have some in the cupboard, and it only takes a minute before you have ripped off the foil, broken a piece off the bar and have it melting in your mouth. Of course, often you can't stop at one piece and you've devoured the whole bar before you realize. Then the guilt sets in. So, there is a strong connection between comfort foods and feelings of guilt.

However, eating chocolate is like getting a food hug. If you discipline the amount you eat, say 2 or 3 pieces at a time, then you will have enjoyed the taste and your mood will be more positive.

Dark chocolate is good for heart health as it contains antioxidants called flavonoids and these are thought to have a positive effect on the heart.

Everything in moderation is a good motto to latch on to so choose dark chocolate, limit yourself to 2 or 3 pieces and enjoy the positive effect.

Cocoa NibsCocoa NibsCredit: Terrie Plowman

If you want to indulge in a little chocolate each day, then you could try Cocoa Nibs. These are coarsely ground cocoa beans and have a rather bitter taste. They are commonly used to make cocoa, chocolate and cocoa butter. They are naturally rich in antioxidants.

Their slightly bitter taste makes them adapt well to adding to other ingredients and are a great way to starting off the day  in your breakfast bowl. Add them to fresh berry fruits and natural soya yoghurt to make a deliciously healthy breakfast.

Cocoa Nibs are not easily found in supermarkets but are available at Health Food Shops like Holland and Barrett or from Amazon.

So, you can indulge in chocolate heaven, either as a stand-alone treat or incorporate it into a healthy breakfast.

Also, you can always count on chocolate given as a gift is always well-received. You can guarantee that it will inspire enough to  lift anyone's unhappy mood. It will certainly be someone's chocolate heaven!