I really like chocolate.
Now, I'm by no means saying I eat that way. I'm just saying that if I have a dream where I'm wallowing like a beached whale in a sea of chocolate, I don't wake up guilty... just wistful. Reality is a whole lot of egg-whites, vegetables, boneless skinless chicken breasts, and so on. With a dash of chocolate.
I'm also pretty darn specific with my chocolate. I do NOT like any candles or lotions or what have you that supposedly smell like chocolate. They don't. It's gross. It's an insult to chocolate everywhere. I wish they could get the smell right, but what's out there makes me ill. I'm pretty specific on taste too. Cheap chocolate has its place (why, hello Easter! Aren't you just next weekend? I'm sure there's a chocolate caramel egg in my basket this year, and I'll be looking forward to that. Maybe not the extra three miles I'll have to walk to eat it, but it'll be worth it.) But really good chocolate is just something else. I've tried different chocolatier's chocolates. I've had pricey chocolate from Europe, as well as the local stuff. I can tell you the differences in minute detail (but I won't. You're welcome.)
So, with that in mind you'll understand my perspective about chocolate. I pay attention to all of it. I want most of it. I don't get to actually have a lot of it. It's a tragedy, but there you have it.
In my life, I have also had a rather forced affair with coffee. I hated it while growing up. I loved the smell, but the stuff was just vile. I hid under a table at Easter with a bunch of other kids and we all tried to make it taste good so we could figure out why the grown-ups liked it so much, but wouldn't let us have any. After adding enough sugar and creamer that the stir-stick stood up straight in the cup, we gave up. We just couldn't make coffee taste good. I tried off and on over the years, but the result was the same. Coffee smelled fabulous and tasted awful. It was baffling.
When I went to college the second time around, this time with a two hour drive and two young children at home, I gave coffee another go out of sheer desperation. I needed to stay awake. Somehow. I started experimenting with flavors and creamers and sweeteners, and I finally found something that was tolerable.
I can't say that I fell in love with coffee, because I didn't. Instead, I fell in love with looking forward to having a morning cup (a HUGE one) with some chocolate flavoring and sweetness, and that warm sip-sip-sipping moment in the quiet when it was just me. And the energy kick, because I have always struggled with fatigue.
I don't know if it's because I never really fully committed to loving coffee that it turned on me, but it did. It stopped giving me energy, and instead gave me panic attacks. The weird thing was, it wasn't even the caffeine (although that didn't help.) I tried out decaf a few times and still had that weird reaction, so I gave it up altogether. I can't say I really missed it, although I missed the process of the brewing and the lovely smell it would spread through the house. I missed the time with a cup of something to look forward to. So... I switched to hot chocolate.
I make a killer cup of hot chocolate. I have a frother that makes skim milk thick, I add baking cocoa and monks fruit sweetener and some sugar free french vanilla creamer, and it's beyond lovely. Even though it's low-calorie, it still clocks in at around 200 calories for a big-BIG mug of it. But it's been worth it. It's my thing to look forward to. My indulgence.
Recently however, a friend suggested something new to me. Roasted cocoa beans. JUST cocoa beans, ground up like how coffee is, and you brew a drink with it just like coffee. Crio Bru. (Apparently, they're not the only company doing this, but this is the one I went with.) Cocoa beans brewed just like coffee? The idea that I could get my morning ritual back and cut out some calories (and play with their claims like more energy, etc) was very appealing. Although, my friend read some reviews and said that apparently the paper filters can get a bit clogged because the oils are different than what you would find in coffee or something. She suggested a french press, if I was going to try it like she was.
I hemmed and hawed over it for a while since the bag is about $12, but I had some birthday money left and it turns out they sell on amazon too... so I ordered their basic flavor, and an extremely cheap french press ($10... and it kind of leaks. *sigh* But the bag of the cocoa beans was almost twice what I ever even paid for gourmet coffee back when I drank it, so I could only splurge so much.)
|My bag... after I got done shoving my nose in it for the better part of the afternoon.|
The first thing I have to mention is that the smell is unbelievable. It smells like the best gourmet chocolate. That alone almost killed off my chocolate cravings. Almost. It smelled so good that my daughter ate a little bit of the grounds. As there is no sugar or creams added, you can imagine her disappointment (the face she made cracked me up.)
I've made it a few times now. I have decided that I like it. Although to be fair, the first time I tried it I was disappointed. I think it just smelled so wonderful, and I do love hot chocolate, that I expected a thick and creamy sort of drink. It was fine, but...
I realized I had to get in the mindset of approaching this like a coffee or tea. If I had been drinking that in the morning instead of my hot chocolate, I would have had a very different experience. So, I got my head on straight and tried again. This time I went with the expectation of the watery coffee/tea experience, and I found I really liked it. I added some creamer to it (but not a lot) and with the heavy chocolate flavor, it was very rich and satisfying (for 45 calories with the creamer, so a nice cut.) Satisfying as in killing my need to go have actual chocolate! That's saying something for someone like me, believe me.
Now, the thing that really bothered me is that this stuff is a bit pricey... and it's pure cocoa beans. It kind of seems sacrilegious to throw out the grounds. It bugged me until I googled keeping the grounds for something, anything, and I found the actual company website has a whole recipe section for the grounds - they don't think they should be thrown out either! *whew*
|My sad, slightly leaky, yet new French Press with the grounds in it.|
Of course, anything listed for baking so far kind of undermines the whole purpose in finding something lower calorie. So, I'm still working on that part of it. I'll figure something out. There is definitely some experimenting in my future! I haven't done anything with the grounds yet, but I am keeping them in the fridge in a container until I do.
I'm only talking about this stuff because I like it (the company hasn't contacted me, or anything like that. Although, I'd love it if they did!) I also needed a way to kill off my cravings. This DOES do that. It's a bit on the pricey side, which is probably why I'm even more concerned about tossing out the grounds when they're usable (and it's weird to think of them that way considering how awful coffee grounds actually are.)
As far as all their claims?
Energy boost? Not anything I've really noticed, but I'm pretty exhausted almost all of the time. Maybe I'm not the best judge.
Appetite suppressant? Maybe. Although, maybe it's just more about me not getting into something I'm not supposed to. A richly smelling very chocolaty tasting drink does help with that! So, for me it seems to be more of an appetite avoidance tactic than a suppressant.
The rest of the claims are all about the antioxidants and stuff that no one can really measure on a personal level. That's OK, though. I'm more interested in the other stuff anyway.
My friend tried hers as well, and liked it (she added milk and honey to hers.) She also got their chocolate covered cocoa beans and said they were wonderful. I admit, I'm curious about that and their other flavors. We'll see though.
Anyway, I thought there might be other chocoholics that might be interested, and I thought I would share!