10% of the time… Eat for pleasure! My favorite French Chocolate Bark Recipe

Researchers have discovered that chocolate produced some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two, but can’t remember what they are. Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show, August 22

chocolate bark

French Chocolate Bark

An easy treat to whip-up and share for the holidays

My thoughts on moderation:  90% of the time, eat with the intention of improving your health. 10% eat for pleasure. Enjoy my favorite holiday recipe. My family is expecting this treat from me and always eat up every bit. I love to make it for them, because it’s made of simple wholesome ingredients and not loaded with added sugar.

What will you be making?

French Chocolate Bark
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Prep Time: 15 minInactive  Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min  Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: 24 pieces

8 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Melt the 2 chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9 by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper facedown on the baking sheet.

Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the cashews, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1 by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature.


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Food Allergy, Intolerance or Sensitivity?

I was recently asked to participate on a panel of health-care providers discussing digestive health. It was a great event and one of the questions I was asked was the difference between food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities.

A food allergy reaction is the result of the immune system identifying a food a foreign entity and then launching a response against it. The body will immune cells called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and histamine. Common food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, seafood (fish or shellfish), milk/dairy, soy, eggs, corn and sugar. The symptoms may be immediate or rapid onset (IgE) or delayed with onset in hours to days later (IgG) which makes it difficult to identify their source. Common symptoms include the following:

Pruritis (itchy skin)
Angioedema (swelling around the lips or eyes)
Shortness of breath
Abdominal pain
Chest pain

A food intolerance reaction is a result of being unable to adequately digest a food. It causes chronic inflammation and irritation in the gut. A very common example is lactose intolerance. This is not an immune response but may be a result of enzyme deficiencies or other physiological factors.  Such symptoms may include:

Gas, bloating, abdominal pain
Brain fog, anxiety or depression
Inflammatory symptoms (eg. joint pain)
Difficulty losing weight (Check out my post on Food Allergies and Weight Gain)

It is important to be aware of how your body responds to foods. A good way to develop this awareness is to keep a diet log or diary which documents foods you eat and your physical and mental responses to them. This is often all you need to do to identify offending foods. Once identified, you may choose to begin an Elimination or Allergy Avoidance Diet where the suspected foods are removed for a period of time to see if your symptoms resolve. The foods may then be slowly re-introduced to confirm your suspicions.

If your diet diary is not definitive, you may want to pursue food allergy testing that will measure the levels of immune cells in your blood to various foods. You may also test for other inflammatory markers in specialized intolerance/sensitivity tests. This helps you understand your body’s reactivity and equips you with the information you need to take the next steps in your diet and lifestyle to optimize your health and well-being. What could be better that that?? I offer these tests in my practice and, when indicated,  find them incredibly helpful in resolving the chronic health issues listed above.

I recommend speaking with your primary care doctor regarding any changes in your diet and for supervision and guidance when investigating food allergies or intolerances.

For more information, check out this great article on the Allergy Avoidance Diet.

Here’s to your health,
Dr. Mead


Photo credit: http://foodallergygal.blogspot.com/