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Q: Do you have any ideas for helping me de-stress over the holidays other than “sticking to” my exercise routine?

Posted December 17, 2014 in Advice Column, Ankeny


A. Believe it or not, indulging in your chocolate craving can actually be good for you and help de-stress during the holidays.  Choosing your chocolate wisely could mean decreasing stress and increasing endorphin production, the “feel-good” chemicals in the body shown to improve mood.  The higher the cacao content percentage represented on the package, the more benefits.  Avoid highly processed or high-sugar-content products.  Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain the most flavonoids, antioxidants known to relax blood vessel and reduce blood pressure.  Dark chocolate may also reduce LDL, or bad, cholesterol. Chocolate is a much weaker stimulant than most people think.  In fact, a typical 1.4-ounce chocolate bar contains the stimulant equivalent of a cup of decaf coffee. Sip a cup of cocoa and know you are doing something good for yourself while enjoying the reason for the season!  Add some spice to your cocoa as these comforting aromas are also known to provide a sense of calmness.  The sweet taste of cinnamon provides a cheering, comforting and nurturing aroma.  Cloves’ spicy aroma has a calming energy.  The earthy aroma of ginger produces a warming sensation.  Peppermint has a minty aroma, offering a cool and refreshing sensation.

Thick and Rich Hot Cocoa 

All you need:  2-1/4 cups nonfat milk, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 cup sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

All you do:  Combine milk, cocoa, sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking often.  Once steaming, cook until it comes to a boil, then remove from the heat. Serves 6 (1/3 cup each)  

Nutrition facts per serving: 98 calories, 2g fat, 50 mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (8g added sugar), 2g fiber, 5g protein.   Source: Eating

Contact your Ankeny Hy-Vee dietitians for further questions, 515-964-0900 (410 N. Ankeny Blvd.) or 515-963-3130 (2510 S.W. State St.).

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