Follow the instructions

Instruction is important.

There are so many things in life we know we need instruction in. This could be something as common as driving a car, or cooking (look at the number cookery shows on TV); or it could be something deeply technical and specialized such as becoming a surgeon or a jedi. There are also things in life we think we can do on our own without instruction because we all know how to do them. They’re just obvious. I remember when I first joined a gym I thought I could achieve my goals by just going to the gym three times a week and exercising. But how do you exercise? Is it with weights? Is it done on a treadmill? How do you lose weight? How do you build muscle? What’s the most efficient way of exercising?These are all very good questions that you start to ask yourself (or at least I did) when you start looking into how to exercise and you come the realization that it’s more complicated than you first thought and you have a lot to learn, so you look around for someone to teach you. To disciple you if you will.

Another area in which most people think they don’t need instruction, but really they do is dieting. I don’t like the term ‘dieting’ I prefer weight loss. Actually I’m not to fond of that either. Let’s go for fat loss. Most people think they can lose fat by reducing their calories and doing some exercise. After short term success turns into a plateau and then back into gaining fat again we come to the realization that we need help. Unfortunately most people turn to the wrong places for help in this area (TV, magazines etc).

Proper instruction on fat loss, exercise and even discipleship itself are all worthy of posts and hopefully I’ll get round to them soon. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I have another topic on my mind and it’s one of extreme importance and hardly anyone thinks twice about how they do it or that they should maybe change what they do to get the most out of it.

What I want to talk about today is eating chocolate.

Yes, eating chocolate.

I can’t stress how important this is. Chocolate is one of the finer food stuffs available to us. It’s taste is unsurpassed and the cocoa bean has many health benefits. So surely we should be eating it and enjoying it in a way to get the most out of it? Unfortunately this isn’t the case. So many of us, just buy it and scoff it without so much as a second thought. Sure, there is some enjoyment to be had in this otherwise we wouldn’t do it. But there’s another level to be attained. Here are my top tips on getting the most out of our chocolate.

Consider your source.

Chocolate is good for you. You may have heard it before and written it off as wishful thinking or a joke, but it’s true. Cocoa is one of the healthiest things around. Unfortunately most commercial chocolate bars are more sugar than they are cocoa so any health benefits to be had from the cocoa are cancelled out by the damage done by the sugar. So in order to minimise the sugar and maximise the cocoa you need to go dark. As dark as you can. The minimum level of cocoa in a chocolate bar should be 70%, any less than that and you’ll be taking in too much sugar. My personal favourite is Green & Blacks organic 85% cocoa dark chocolate. They use natural vanilla to counteract the bitterness. Lovely.

But what are the health benefits? Eating dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure, lower our risk of heart disease, increase insulin sensitivity and protect against UV damage. All good reasons for choosing good quality dark chocolate.

Storage

Some people like to store their chocolate in the refrigerator. I think this is one of the worst places to keep chocolate (beaten only by the freezer). The reason for this is that when you eat the chocolate you need it to be at room temperature to get the full effect of the taste. if it’s cold when you put it into your mouth then it hardly tastes of anything. So unless you’re willing to wait for half an hour or so before eating your chocolate once you’ve taken it from the fridge (and who is?), then keep it in a cupboard at room temperature away from sunlight.

Eating

Now to the fun part. surely you just put it in your mouth, chew and then swallow? No, there’s so much more to it than that. Just like a fine wine, a good quality chocolate needs to be savored. If you’ve stored your chocolate correctly, then it will be at room temperature when you put it in your mouth. Because of this you’ll get the initial flavour hit. Mmmmmmmm. This is where most people go wrong. They start chewing straight away. Instead, don’t chew. Let the chocolate melt on your tongue. I’ve heard it said that it’s best to just let it sit there, but I can’t do that so I tend to move it around in my mouth. As the chocolate melts you get this amazing complexity of flavour come through. In really good chocolate you can even get the fruit taste of the cocoa bean itself. Only once the chocolate has melted and you’ve tasted all the flavours the chocolate has to offer, start chewing.

Portion control

Good quality chocolate is more expensive than the regular stuff. There’s no getting around this. But because the expensive stuff is so much better than the cheap stuff, you only need a few squares of it in any one sitting, so one good sized bar can last up to five days if you’re having only a few squares every day.

So there you have it. Those are my top tips for eating chocolate.

Enjoy.

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