Welcome to the second BlogFlash event! The first (#BlogFlash2012) was so well received that we decided to run it twice yearly. It’s a great opportunity to get creative, meet other bloggers and get a new audience. Whether you join us for the full month or just a few days, the main aim is to have fun and be inspired. Anything else is a bonus. Worried about word count? Don’t be! It’s a guideline so the month doesn’t feel overwhelming but if you feel inspired to write more, feel free. Good luck!

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#BlogFlash2013: Day Eight – Chocolate

I hope you’ll enjoy these fun facts about chocolate, plus two of my favorite chocolate recipes!

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Chocolate is food of the gods

\’Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”

Read more at Smithsonian.org: A Brief History of Chocolate

Chocolate is food of the gods
Chocolate was thought to have magical powers

Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. Yes, we knew this.

Read more at Smithsonian.org: A Brief History of Chocolate 

Chocolate was thought to have magical powers
Christopher Columbus was the first European to come in contact with cocoa

On August 15, 1502, on his fourth and last voyage to the Americas, Columbus and his crew encountered a large dugout canoe near an island off the coast of what is now Honduras. The canoe was the largest native vessel the Spaniards had seen. It was “as long as a galley,” and was filled with local goods for trade — including cacao beans. Columbus had his crew seize the vessel and its goods, and retained its skipper as his guide.

Read more at Exploratium: An “American” Invention

Christopher Columbus was the first European to come in contact with cocoa
The fat in chocolate is not all that bad for us

Really! The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat. You may know that saturated fats are linked to increases in LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

Read more at Cleveland Clinic: Chocolate

The fat in chocolate is not all that bad for us
The biggest chocolate bar ever made weighed 12,290 pounds

A 12,290 pound chocolate bar created by the Worlds Finest Chocolate company set a Guinness World Record September 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The bar, which stands nearly 3 feet high and measures 21 feet long, beat the previous record chocolate bar by more than a ton.

Read more at Denver Post: Photos: World Record 12,290 Pound Chocolate Bar

The biggest chocolate bar ever made weighed 12,290 pounds
Teuscher (Zurich, Switzerland) is the best chocolatier in the world…

…followed by Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago, Illinois, USA), according to National Geographic\’s Intelligent Traveler. See a list of the ten best chocolatiers in the world.

Read more at National Geographic: The 10 Best Chocolatiers in the World

Teuscher (Zurich, Switzerland) is the best chocolatier in the world…
Cocoa pods take five to six months to develop

The pods take five to six months to develop. When the pods ripen they turn from green or yellow to orange or red. Cacao trees can be harvested twice a year. Workers use a machete to cut the pods off the trees. They are placed on banana leaves in large wooden boxes. They are left to ferment for several days. Criollo beans usually ferment for two to three days while forastero and trinitario beans fervent three to seven days. During fermentation the beans become darker and wrinkled and lose their bitter taste.

Read more at ThinkQuest: How Chocolate is Made

Cocoa pods take five to six months to develop
Films are like a box of chocolates
Films are like a box of chocolates
Chocolate is the key to a long life

(Maybe or maybe not, but I\’d prefer to believe it.)  Coincidentally or otherwise, many of the worlds oldest supercentenarians, e.g. Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) and Sarah Knauss (1880-1999), were passionately fond of chocolate. Jeanne Calment habitually ate two pounds of chocolate per week until her physician induced her to give up sweets at the age of 119 – three years before her death aged 122.

Read more at Chocolate.org

Chocolate is the key to a long life
There\’s a chemical reason chocolate makes us feel good

Together, Dr. Mitchell says the ingredients in chocolate create a powerful blend. “The combination gives you that overall optimum brain happiness,” Dr. Mitchell says.

  • Theobromine: A caffeine-like stimulant that perks you up.
  • Tryptophane: Increases the brain’s serotonin levels for a happy, feel-good result.
  • Phenethylamine: Releases endorphins, causing feelings of passion and love.
  • Sugar and fat: The unbeatable duo that gives chocolate its delectable creamy texture.

Read more at Oprah: Why Women Crave Chocolate

There\’s a chemical reason chocolate makes us feel good
Chocolate is a natural anti-depressant

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found that women and men eat more chocolate as depressive symptoms increase, suggesting an association between mood and chocolate.

Read more at Science Daily: People With Depression Eat More Chocolate, a Mood Food

Chocolate is a natural anti-depressant
Eat up, guys! Chocolate reduces the risk of stroke in men

Researchers studied more than 37,000 Swedish men over the course of 10 years. Men who ate more than 2 ounces of chocolate per week had a 17 percent lower chance of having a stroke than men who ate very little or no chocolate.

Read more at US News: Chocoholics Rejoice: Milk Chocolate May Reduce Stroke Risk in Men

Eat up, guys! Chocolate reduces the risk of stroke in men
Chocolate makes us smarter

Messerli went to Wikipedia and downloaded a list of countries ranked by Nobel laureates per capita (only prizes awarded through 2011 were included), and then compared that data with each country\’s annual chocolate consumption per capita, obtained from several chocolate trade associations. What he found was a \’surprisingly powerful correlation” between the two.

The country with the most Nobel laureates per 10 million people and the greatest chocolate consumption per capita: Switzerland. Sweden came in a close second, and Denmark landed in third place.

Read more at Time: Secret to Winning a Nobel Prize? Eat More Chocolate

Chocolate makes us smarter
Americans eat an average of 12 pounds of chocolate per year

Fun facts along with a chocolate quiz from the California Academy of Sciences.

Read more at California Academy of Sciences: Chocolate Facts

Americans eat an average of 12 pounds of chocolate per year
For the choco-book-a-holic..

…here from The Guardian is a chocolate reading list.

Read more at Guardian: A Chocolate Reading List

For the choco-book-a-holic..
BrowniesChocolate Cake
[gmc_recipe 6235]
[gmc_recipe 8169]

Next prompt: Spring (13th March)

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