S6 L46 – The Health Benefits of Chocolate

          In today’s lesson I learned about the cocoa plant, from which the actually very healthy chocolate is made.  Oh, and I’m not taking about the regular everyday milk chocolate – I’m talking about dark chocolate, unprocessed pure dark chocolate.  This stuff may be a bit bitter but you get used to it after a while.  Anyways, this drug can apparently decrease risk of heart and brain problems, protect the brain from strokes, and relieve anxiety, and none of this would have been found had the ancient Aztecs invented the first chocolate – Xocolatl.  When you pronounce it right it sounds something like chocolate. 

          The powerful properties contained by the chocolate can be received by eating about 7 grams of chocolate a day for two weeks.  The first of the properties is the decreasing of risk of heart disease or brain problems.  This is activated by the proteins and good acid in the chocolate, eating the bad stuff.  The second is the protection of the brain.  The chemicals in the chocolate are many, but one of them, called epicatechin, simulates a neurological pathway in your brain, which the brain sees as a signal to get ready for some type of attack on the brain, and therefore saving a lot of sadness on the part of the victim’s family. And no one really knows how chocolate relieves stress.

          But that’s the three powerful health benefits of eating dark chocolate. See you in the next post!

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S6 L45­ – Greens Salad

            All you need is a can of spinach, a small box of cherry tomatoes, and two fistfuls of baby greens (your choice of greens), a cutting knife (I used a 5” Santoku), a cutting board, and four bowls to feed four people with this delicious recipe. First, take handfuls of the spinach and cut in strips one way, then turn it perpendicular to the first cuts and cut strips that way.  This will give you small squares of spinach.  Then take the tomatoes and slice them each in half parallel with the top and bottom.  Then, with the baby greens, cut perpendicular to the direction they’re arranged, in my case it was left-right so I cut front-back.  Now you’ll have little cuttings of baby greens.  After that take even scoops of each ingredient and evenly disperse them throughout the four bowls and mix.  The salad is done & I hope you enjoy it!

(Not Really) Sweet Cinnamon Tea – Science Lesson 32

Huh….. I don’t know whether I liked it or not.  It was kind of bitter, and it had a cinnamony taste to it.. but it was bitter.  Very bitter.  It was terrible at the bottom- I spit it out, it was so disgusting!  With the original recipe, Mom called that cinnamon water, so she added to it.  What the original recipe was is to put a half cup of cinnamon chips into a strainer and place the strainer in a cup of boiling water and leave it for five minutes and then drink it.  What she added was 1 package of earl grey tea flavoring, honey (enough to cover the bottom of the cup), and a little less cinnamon (1/8 teaspoon- the ground stuff).  It turned out bitter, but I’m guessing that the original recipe would have tasted terrible, so I’m lucky that mom caught that (That would be why Daniel Dignan doesn’t taste them during the lesson!), otherwise it would be yucky.

Herbs & Spices Overview – Science Lesson 31

Today I learned about Herbs and Spices.  I’ll start off talking about the herbs, than I’ll move on to the spices, and after that I’ll talk about some relating character traits connecting the two.

To start off, the lesson listed a good handful of herbs, some of which I had not known about, including  Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Bergamot, Lavender, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Angelica, Celery, Coriander leaf, Dill, Fennel, Pili-Pili, and Eucalyptus.  The main definition of an herb is that it is a fresh or dried leafy part of a plant that is used for its flavoring, perfume, or its medicinal qualities.   Herbs can be from a(n) annual, biennial, or perennial, and it’s supposed to be used in small bits.

Now I’ll talk about spice, and these are a couple spices that he listed in the video: Cinnamon, Allspice, Chili Peppers, Vanilla, Chocolate, Curry, Paprika, Saffron, Pimento, Cannelle, Dill, Tumeric, and Ginger.  The definition of a spice is a dried seed, bark, or root used for flavoring, coloring, or preserving food, and it has a medicinal value.

Then there’s the nutritional benefits and culinary uses.  The health benefits are Phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant properties, the Terpene compounds, which decrease the production of “free radicals” or harmful cells in the body, therefore it gives them anti-cancer properties, the anti-inflammatory properties, the vitamins and minerals, and they support and influence the metabolism (the system that sends out antibodies when you get sick) positively, keeping you healthy.  And there’s the culinary uses, which are being served fresh, chopped (use a sharp knife for this, or it will leave a brown/black discoloration on the herb/spice), crumbled if dried, heated in oil to extract the flavor, ground into coarse or fine particles, or turned into a flavor extract that will quickly permeate that dish.  Herbs and spices are quite an interesting subject!

Green Goblin Smoothie – Science Lesson 30 – Yet Another Failure

Green Goblin Smoothie – more like Bad Blue Smoothie!  I did everything correct……… what went wrong?  I don’t know.  Well, I know I need a little more practice in the smoothie section.  I was supposed to put in some raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, 1  frozen banana, one lettuce leaf, two teaspoons acai or something like acai,  two cups nut or seed milk (I used almond), and of course the blender and friend (unless it turns out like this!).  As always, stuff it all in the blender and blend it.  If it turns out like this, throw it away.  It tasted terrible!

Three Annoying Smoothies – Science lesson 29 – Another Set of Failures

The troublesome trio of smoothies – Berry Blue Smoothie, Blueberry Mint Smoothie, and Strawberry Daydream Smoothie.  In the making of each one, I made at least one mistake.  For the Berry Blue, I was supposed to put in  1 cup blueberries or purple grapes, 2 Tbsp. acai or blackcurrant powder (or blackberries), 800 ml (27 fl. oz.) of nut or seed milk (example: almond milk), 1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional), 2 semi-frozen bananas, 1/2 avocado, and the seeds of one vanilla pod.  I accidentally put in too much blackberries and it turned out too blackberry-tasting, and I then didn’t like it, so our guests drank it, and they liked it.  For the Blueberry Mint smoothie I put in too much mint, and I was supposed to put in 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 frozen banana (peeled before frozen), 1 cup spinach, 1 cup apple juice, ½ cup pineapple chunks, and ¼ cup fresh mint.  That one was too minty, and again, our guests liked and drank them.  When I made the Strawberry Daydream, they were not there (thank goodness they weren’t!), and I accidentally forgot to cap the strawberries, simply dropped the strawberries in the blender, and blended the ingredients, which were  2 cups strawberries, 2 nectarines, 1 mango, 1 banana, ½ cup fresh lemon balm or basil, and 1 cup water.  While I did that, mom asked me if I’d capped the strawberries, and I said, “Whoops.  I forgot to do that.”  It was then that I noticed that I’d forgotten the caps.  And mom started laughing so hard she was crying, and I nearly burst into tears because I thought that she was laughing at me.  Later on, however, she said that she thought that I was cute when I said the line. She said that she understood that since we had been putting so many leaves in that I forgot about the strawberry leaves (when it happened I was actually thinking about the spinach leaves that I had put in the Blueberry Mint Smoothie the day before) and put them in.  These three smoothies were super annoying!