by Erica Stelcik, MS
Sometimes demonized, but almost always welcomed with open arms, chocolate is a mystery. Dark chocolate, in particular, has its health (and soul) benefits too. Dark chocolate, how do I love thee? Let me count the nutrient-dense ways!
• Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants. Free radicals from chemicals and junk in our food cause damage (aging) in our various systems and may lead to cancer as well as other lifestyle diseases. The higher the amount of cacao in chocolate, the more beneficial it will be to protect against free radicals.
• Dark chocolate has been shown to lower high blood pressure, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Cacao phenols inhibit clumping that starts atherosclerosis.
• Dark chocolate is a gluten-free (and usually milk/dairy-free) food. Look for quality ingredients such as free trade or sustainably grown chocolate and avoid the milk, which has been shown in some studies to interfere with absorption of nutrients.
• Wonder why so many people crave chocolate? Many people (you know who you are!) are deficient in magnesium, which is helpful for muscle relaxation and stress handling. Cacao is rich in magnesium, which can be incredibly satisfying in chocolate form.
• Dark chocolate also has less sugar than white (which has no cacao benefits at all) or milk chocolate.
• A study published in March by UC San Diego showed that frequent chocolate consumption is associated with lower BMI, as in… more chocolate, less weight! The more chocolate they ate, the more total calories and total saturated fat they ate and yet the thinner they were. Epicatechins found in chocolate (and green tea), has been associated with weight loss.
Remember, a little bit of dark chocolate goes a long way! Bite into a chunk of 80% cacao chocolate and slowly savor the luxuriousness, silkiness, and darkness of a quality piece of chocolate. If you are used to white or milk chocolate, slowly work your way up to 80-85% cacao to give your taste buds a chance to “acclimate” to the dark side. Enjoy the love!
Erica Stelcik, MS, is real food nutrition and detox coach with a private practice in Costa Mesa. She prefers her chocolate in cacao bean form: raw, crunchy, and with no sugar added (and you thought you were a chocolate foodie!). She helps people address their nutritional deficiencies so they optimize their health naturally and safely. She can be reached at 949.596.9991.
by Chef William “Billy” Lundergan | Owner operator Billy’s Backyard BBQ
When I was asked to do this for Chocolate Bar-B-Que, I was honored. Having been in this trade for over 20 years this is my first article or blog or anything I have chosen to do. So what may be my choice of topic?
Wood Pellet Grills
Many of you have heard the Buzz in the last few years, or have seen the grills featured at Costco, but what is it really?
Wood Pellet Grilling is the greenest way to cook your food.
As far as it being the greenest way to BBQ, compare to the 98.75% burn rate on most grills consisting of charcoal, wood, propane, or natural gas, and you will see most grills are not as green. The junk they press into coal is bad enough, including the added chemicals.
Propane is the second cleanest way to cook, but if you have a smoker or grill look at the top at the residue the gas leaves behind. It is not all grease; it is a gas residue that collects on all burned fuel. Also, at 27 dollars per tank it cost more as well.
Raw wood burning grills are great however they are costly to operate, and who has the space?
Now natural gas is more cost effective then propane but try to take a natural gas grill to the beach. Also, if you notice the residue from propane, natural gas is ten times worse.
Now in the Green market, it is as follows. Cleanest to not-so-green.
- Wood Pellet grills
- Electric grills
- Propane grills
- Raw Hardwood grills
- Natural Gas grills
- Lump Coal
The most efficient way to cook your food
While all these grills are favorite among there users, whether charcoal or propane. Remember, the truth is, you get one use out of a twenty pound bag of charcoal, and one cook out of 20 lbs wood or lump coal as well. Now, out of propane you get six cooks out of one standard tank. On the other hand, where you use Wood Pellets, you can get up to 20 hours of cook time. With Wood Pellets, when you are done with each cook session you have a thimble full of ash.
One of the best flavors you could get in your food
Wow! Can you think of a better flavor then natural wood smoke cooked? One of the best things about cooking with Wood Pellets is this…..Wood Pellet grills are all indirect cooking. As a result, you have less burning and flare ups.
The easiest way to impress your friends with your cooking ability
Now this is the fun part about Wood Pellet grilling……impressing your friends! You go out to your grill, turn it on, and it reaches the temp you like within 7 to 10 min. At 350 you can sear a Steak. In a day of smoking one brisket your friends with hail you as their new grill master buddy.
With coaching in technique, you can do way more on a wood pellet grill
- Slow smoke days at a time
Anyone can produce a seven coarse meal in a couple of hours. I used to do a three hour demo and in three hours I could cook 60 pieces of chicken, 2 pork loins, a basket of 9 swordfish steaks, 2 turkeys at 24 lbs each, veggies, hot rolls, 50 jalapeño poppers, 4 liquor cakes, and 8 dozen chocolate chip cookies.
Hope you find this article enlightening as I try to find things I can do on a wood pellet grill, everyday.
Chef William “Billy” Lundergan
Owner operator Billy’s Backyard BBQ
Owner operator Uncle Mush’s
PO Box 2942 Costa Mesa Ca. 92626
by Marty Uribe | Owner, Chocolate Bar-B-Que
Yes, I write “Adventure” because that’s exactly how it’s been since I created this company armed with a Chocolate Fountain and flat top BBQ Grill. Serving any number of guests, me and my Chefs put out your catering fires. Even your last minute event planning is welcome. I have thrown many parties and I know what it’s like to want to make the memories of a community gathering last and last. Yes, my guests remember the venue, but more importantly, they remember the food. Food becomes the center of future conversations. “Remember those Ribs! I wish I could make those!” “I can’t believe they served Quinoa salad” “Those Stuffed Jalapenos!!!”
The Food Pyramid is definitely one to climb, and with each level comes a different experience in cooking. Every one of my clients has a different palate, from Snow Crab Artichoke Dip served in Newport Coast, to the fresh ground Hamburgers served on the beach in Huntington. The expanding difference of palates invites us to create new menu items, we’d be proud to serve. My Chefs bring their own flare and cooking style to the table. Chef David brings his 15 years restaurant management, and, general contracting experience; Chef Louis brings his Kitchen Academy education and catering ownership with him. I am currently carving my own BBQ niche. Just last month I made my first Coffee Cured Bacon, then, I moved on to Slow Smoked Beef Ribs. Next will be Tri Tip, and so on. In short, I now offer more menu items than the brochure can hold.
Chocolate Bar-B-Que has also served a few fundraisers such as Weinerfest, benefitting the works of Sunny Oasis Rescue, and, the Someone Care Soup Kitchen’s Annual Fundraiser, to help keep their pot full, as more local families seem to be filling up their tables. We recently participated in the Taste of Huntington Beach, benefitting Friends of the Children’s Library, and a first at getting my Slow Smoked Pulled Pork judged. No finger biting here, ‘cause my Grill Master Mentor, Billy Lundergan, guides me as my BBQ niche sharpens. Nothing more satisfying than introducing you to Chocolate Bar-B-Que, all the while, we enjoy making a difference for others.
Bar-B-Que catering is a great business to be in and I gotta say, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Marty Uribe | Owner, Chocolate Bar-B-Que | (714) 292-3576
By CHEF LOUIE
If you’re like most Americans, the Fourth is a great way to get your family and friends together for tossing the ol’ pigskin and watching the fireworks (and setting them off too, depending on where you live). But for most of us, we remember Fourth of July for the food. What a great time to fire up the grill for some steaks, burgers, hot dogs, fruit, vegetables, and other great American classic comfort food in the warm July weather!
Although I do enjoy a “nice” frozen beef patty burger, the Fourth is NOT the time to gorge in preserved, frozen stuff. Take the time this holiday to do something special for your friends and family by creating a “Red White & Blue” themed buffet. Follow these tips below:
1) PATRIOTIC POTATO SALAD: turn any boring potato salad into a ‘red white and blue’ potato salad by replacing the regular Russet Potato with an equal mix of Red Potato, White Rose Potato, and Blue (or Purple) Potato. Follow your secret potato salad recipe afterwards. Just remember that the red and blue potatoes cook and crumble faster, so it may probably be a good idea to split the potatoes in different pots just to be safe.
2) ‘MELON IT UP!: The watermelon is the perfect summertime food. They’re cheap this time of year, plentiful, and at their peak of sweetness. Do something different with your watermelon by chopping it up in large cubes and drizzling a balsamic reduction over it (balsamic vinegar and brown sugar simmered to a syrupy consistency). Or, for the Adults Only version, soak up those watermelon cubes in Malibu coconut rum overnight. The watermelon will have a sweet flavor that will kick you in the face if you’re not careful (who needs the beer, right?)
3) SOMETHING DIFFERENT…: Wanna be daring? Try this ‘Red, White & Blue Grilled Cheese’. Use strawberry jam on one side of the sandwich, the other use blueberry jam (or boysenberry jam if you can find it). In the middle of that, use white cheddar, mozzarella, brie, or any type or white cheese. Grill in your favorite skillet and slice in half or in quarters to serve. Kids will love it for the sweetness, and adults will love it too because, hey, it’s different!
4) THE PERFECT BURGER BAR: Now, as you know, each person has their own way of making their own burger, so having a lot of choices available to them will give you a lot of brownie points. To spice it up a little bit, try these tips:
- Mix ketchup and Sriracha (a Vietnamese hot sauce – you can use Tabasco as a second option if you prefer) together to give it a little bit of a kick!
- Find some beefsteak tomatoes and slice them ¼ inch thick. They’re the perfect size for your burger! For the true chefs, line up the sliced tomatoes in a pan, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until it’s lightly toasted.
- Slice some white onions and either serve them raw, or make some caramelized onions – in a skillet, for every one onion (use either white or brown onions), cook the sliced onion with some oil, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Cook until onions are browned. A perfect addition to any burger!
- Get good lettuce. No brown spots.
- Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and relish. All mandatory.
- BUY GOOD MEAT: Always pick either Choice cut or Prime cut. Prime will set you back a bit, but your palate will thank you for it’s perfect marbling and even distribution of fat. As for burger patties, always buy patties that are never frozen!! They taste better and actually lock in more of the nutrients from the red meat making it a little more digestible than it’s frozen, preserved counterpart. For the more daring, make your own patties! They’re a lot of fun and you can ask your local butcher for their recommendations. If you plan to make your own burgers, use Choice cuts.
There are many more ideas that I can throw to turn your Fourth of July buffet into a patriotic extravaganza. If you have any additional ideas that you’d like to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
- CHEF LOUIE
Chef Louis is currently the Founder/Managing Partner for 4Top – Restaurant Consulting and Design Firm, Executive Chef/Co-Owner of Three Guys Walk Into A Party… Catering and Event Planning, Event Manager for Ace High Casino Rentals, and Chef Consultant for Chocolate BBQ. Contact him at: 909-967-4002.