OK…I admit it…I’m typically American. I’m addicted to certain snack foods which seem to bring me comfort at certain times of the day or year. I love chocolate and can’t resist See’s Chocolates (a West Coast tradition). Every time I return to California it’s one of the first places I visit. I literally binge on their chocolate and eat vast amounts during the holidays and especially at Easter time.

I love to sit in front of the TV and watch an old movie while munching on popcorn (I tend to eat more with action movies…). I like to bake cakes and cookies and give them to my friends and see the smiles on their faces. Chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies are the first recipes that children learn how to make in the United States and I was no exception…kind of a way to pass on time-honored traditions and build memories. So the question remains…how can we indulge in our favorite snacks without feeling guilty? In California when I was a student, I worked in a health food store (actually owned by my parents). My family had always favored “organic” foods over processed, ready-made products and that’s how I was brought up…believing that ‘whole foods’ and ‘homemade foods’ were better for you.  When in California I do most of my shopping at “Whole Foods”, an exclusive grocery store that specializes in health food products and organic produce.

I also subscribe to a few health newsletters which help me decide which snack foods are the best and which ones I should avoid. So in order to continue binging on my favorite snack foods, here’s what the health experts are saying:

  • Chocolate is actually good for you. Even though it’s considered a high-calorie snack, its metabolic effects far outweigh its fat content. Chocolate can improve your heart, your cholesterol levels and can help control your glucose and blood pressure (sounds very clinical doesn’t it? Our health insurance policies should cover this!). According to nutritionists, chocolate can lower your Body Mass Index (level of fat per muscle) because of its antioxidants (also contained in wine) which also protect us from certain kinds of cancer. So where did you put that chocolate…!
  • Popcorn is good for you too as it contains a lot of fiber which is good for our intestines. Popcorn is also loaded with polyphenols too which are a type of antioxidant which can neutralize cancer-causing free radicals. Popcorn contains about 1.5% polyphenols which is more than what’s found in similar quantities of fruits and vegetables which are mostly made up of water. Joe Vinson, PhD said at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society being held this week in San Diego, California: “Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called “whole grain,” this simply means that over 51 percent of the weight of the product is whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way.” You’ll have to leave out the butter and salt though (and sugar for some Europeans) because they can cause high blood pressure and weight gain!
  • Carbohydrates (slow sugars found in baked goods and pasta) can also be good for you if you go easy on the sugar (see Medical Alert below…)  and fats and choose whole grain flours. You should also add lots of other ingredients to your baked goods such as: chocolate, nuts (full of omega-3 fats which are not synthesized by our bodies from other oils and which are essential for normal metabolism),  honey (which contains contains many vitamins like B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc), whole grains such as oatmeal and wheat germ, fruits and vegetables (have you ever tried carrot cake?), eggs (One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids; people who eat eggs every day lower their risk of developing cataracts, also because of the lutein and zeaxanthin and one Harvard study suggests regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, breast cancer, stroke and heart attacks due to the chemical Choline) and dairy products (great for your calcium intake).
  • See’s Chocolates: they combine nuts and chocolate for all of the above benefits. And you get a free sample every time you go into the store! Here’s a box for you for Easter:

Boy…I hope that makes you feel much better and rids you of some of the guilt you feel when you eat snack foods. After all…American habits are not that bad when you think about all of the health benefits you derive from them…if you make healthy choices and consume in moderation! (ATTENTION!! See Medical Alert on Debby’s Corner…Some doctors think that sugar is harmful to your health!!!…Just when we thought we were ok…!)…

While I think about it…here’s a young student from 667 videos who invites you into his kitchen for a little demonstration on how to make popcorn (homemade that is….):

So…what’s on TV tonight? (crunch, crunch, crunch)

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