February 2013

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play with your food Simple Sips Keeping Valentine���s simple By Karen Eigenberger Health by Chocolate Decadent dark chocolate is smart for your heart Need some ���safe bets��� for wine when you are not sure what to serve? When actress Mae West said ���too much of a good thing can be wonderful,��� she may not have been talking about chocolate. Too much chocolate can be, well, fattening. But just enough chocolate���and we mean dark chocolate���can be smart for your heart. Since February is American Heart Month and host to St. Valentine���s Day, it seems a proper time to celebrate with chocolate���for all the right reasons. ���Of course chocolate is good for you!��� says chocolatier Gail Ambrosius, whose east-side Madison shop has gained a national following. ���Studies ��� find chocolate is heart healthy and a mood booster. Just eating chocolate makes you feel good!��� Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, much like blueberries and green tea, and helps promote cardiovascular health. Enhanced blood flow, lower levels of cholesterol, mild anti-clotting effects and, for some, reduced blood pressure can result from consuming this tasty treat. Despite its sweet reputation, dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, similar to that of oatmeal, which means your blood sugar will not spike, then crash like it does after indulging on other sugared sweets. In fact, the antioxidants that occur naturally in the cocoa bean from which chocolate BRAVA Magazine February 2013 is derived may aid in treating unhealthy blood vessels and impaired circulation, which may precede the development of diabetes. ���Eating small amounts of chocolate regularly can lead to a lower total body mass index,��� Ambrosius says. ���Dark chocolate can also serve as a mild anti-depressant, an aphrodisiac, and may even help with migraines.��� This plant-based food contributes vital minerals to your body, including dietary supplements of copper, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Each of these also aids in the fight against cardiovascular disease, the leading killer of women in the United States, according to the American Heart Association These are all good reasons to indulge with dark chocolate, not only on Valentines Day, but every day. Not that any of us really needs an excuse! Michael and Jean Muckian have covered the local food and arts scenes for over 25 and 15 years, respectively. Find them online at the Culturosity blog on Reds: If you are having heavier foods, such as red meat, serve a Malbec. But if you���re serving poultry or pork, opt for a Pinot Noir. Try: Catena Malbec. ($20) A supple, rich wine with a long, smooth finish. Solena Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir. This wine, from Willamette, is bright and vibrant with a nose of sweet raspberries, baker���s chocolate, violets and tea leaves. Whites: If you are having fish, seafood or shellfish, a white will pair the best. For a simple ���go to��� white, choose a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Try: Didier Pouilly Fume (Sauvignon Blanc). ($17) This wine is dry, fresh, elegant and minerally. Claris Pinot Grigio. ($13) A light and crisp wine with a hint of apple and pear. Cheers! And bon app��tit! Karen Eigenberger is partner at STEVE���S Wine-Beer-Spirits on Mineral Point Road. Visit Photo by Bobbi Petersen By Michael and Jean Muckian 70 It doesn���t take a full kitchen staff and a five-star chef to create an elegant and romantic meal for Valentine���s Day. Following some simple rules and a little advance preparation can keep you out of the kitchen and free to relax and enjoy. Choose a manageable menu with fresh, simple ingredients. The quality of the ingredients will make a big difference in the end result. For example, Shrimp Scampi made with fresh shrimp presents far less chances for disaster than Coquille St. Jacques. Not only that, it requires far less preparation time. Time the dinner well. Plan ahead and make a shopping list and do prep work ahead of time. Cutting and chopping vegetables can be done in advance and placed in ramekins for easy access until you are ready to cook. Pair your dishes with quality beverages. Think simple and elegant. A good glass of wine is far more impressive than an elaborate martini or mixed cocktail when enjoying a good meal.

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