Monday, June 1, 2009

Chocolate for breakfast … You got a problem with that?

Some of us can get a little defensive about our chocolate love. Other’s just go with the flow. “Chocolate for Breakfast” will take bean lovers to new levels.
Barbara Passino’s new book is as decadent as its title offering goodies such as: Margarita Tapioca served in a cocoa-rimmed glass; Harry’s Grilled Salmon with Zucchini Curry Sauce; and Chocolate-Filled Toast Pillows topped with lemon and lime zest.
She’s got tips and tricks: For a centerpiece, try firecracker sausage bundles: Tie a bundle of cooked sausages with a leek green or ribbon and stick a sparkler in it. Dynamite.
She’s got a passion she wants to share with eager readers of like mind. Every page and picture brings a sigh and a promise of something amazing. Here’s an unexpected chocolate quickie:

Watermelon and Feta Salad
3 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large shallot, finely chopped
Juice from 1 lime
2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon powdered chocolate
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the watermelon chunks in a beautiful bowl. Lightly toss the shallot, lime juice and feta together and then toss them with the watermelon. Sprinkle the cayenne, chocolate and salt over the top and toss lightly. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and chill it for at least half an hour up to 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Drink up your summer
It’s new and I like it. Santa Cruz Organic’s Mango Lemonade can go into this mocktail:
Fruity Arnold Palmer
• Combine equal parts iced tea (perhaps Santa Cruz Organic Lemon Tea) and Santa Cruz Organic Mango Lemonade
• Pour into a tall glass over ice
• Sip slowly and melt into summertime
Strawberry and raspberry combos are also in this line. You can find these at Whole Foods markets, one of my favorite Houston stops.
TeaZer — Thank Santa Cruz for that organic goodness in these 12-ounce bottles of passion fruit, pear, lemon, etc. They’re sparkling, have zing and make your summer salad or sandwich lunch fizz.
TeaZazz — Rex Lee from “Entourage” and actor Judd Nelson are zazzing up their lives with TeaZazz, and I’m right behind them. Two women started this sparking tea business and I love the flavor, the bubbles and the antioxidants and the notion that there are relatively few calories in this good stuff.

Cody on the desk will try anything, and I appreciate that in a person. I told him Organic Green Stevia looked like file, but you put it in your drinks for sweetness. He tried a spoonful and pronounced it tasted like “Dragonfly.”
I asked if that was some energy drink.
No. He rides motorcycles, and said it tastes like a fresh dragonfly hitting you in the mouth.
Those of us who adjusting to more healthy foods may be able to relate, but I’m not in a hurry for this one. For those who must sweeten their drinks, the Navitas Naturals bag of stevia is a good, low-calorie option. The South American sweetener has long been celebrated by the Guarani and Mato Grosso Indians, but it’s still new to many North Americans.
Natives call it the white flowered herb, indigenous to Paraguay, the “Honey Leaf.”
In addition to the new Organic Green Stevia, Navitas Naturals offers a plethora of organic superfoods and sweeteners, including raw cacao, mesquite, lucuma, acai, yacon, mulberries, maca, camu camu, palm sugar … the list goes on. I tried some on a grilled banana and it was exotic. Navitas has a trendy metal drink bottle to shake up your goodies.

No need for naked popcorn
I’m relatively popcorn obsessed. Even though I sometimes make popcorn a meal, I’d never heard of Kernel Season’s, apparently the nation’s No. 1 brand of popcorn seasoning. The Kernel promotes “No more naked popcorn” and has a new all-natural butter-flavored, zero calorie popcorn spritzer that’s an amazing burst of flavor on the chewy, fluffy Premium Raw Kernel Popping Corn kernels. They pop up crazy big. The spritzer has canola, sunflower and corn oils and makes it movie-theater good with zero fat credit for a serving. I’m now a fan of the Kernel’s seasoning shakers in White Cheddar or Nacho Cheddar, Ranch, Jalapeno, etc. The corn itself is dubbed as the highest quality popcorn available and nearly hull-less. I can’t imagine anyone not loving it.

Granola like no other
Five Star Bar has a back story. Dark chocolate became a “high priority” in the development. Lake Champlain Chocolates of Vermont made these gold-wrapped chunks that look like gold bars and loaded them with maple granola, roasted almonds, oats and tart dried cranberries. Somehow they’re crunchy, and suspended in chocolate and almond paste that melts in your happy mouth.
Lake Champlain Chocolates are preservative-free and Kosher-certified and crafted in small batches. Could it be time for a road trip to Vermont?

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