Love Your Heart!
Valentine’s Day is a great time to celebrate love, but also can be a reminder to make healthy heart choices as part of your everyday life! An intricate part of this romantic holiday is, of course, chocolate. The Aztecs were among the first to use chocolate as gifts and believed it to be a source of spiritual wisdom, energy and to heighten sexual prowess. Richard Cadbury, whose famed British family manufactured chocolate, was the marketing genius who first packaged chocolate treats into the heart-shaped boxes in the 1860’s – the rest is history! Dark chocolate, which contains 70% cocoa mass, supplies the body with important amounts of polyphenols that are potentially capable of having beneficial effects on chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In a single leaf of tea, one third of it’s weight is comprised of flavonoids, which are released when the leaves come in contact with hot water. Flavonoids in foods have positive health effects that can help reduce the risk of heart disease through high antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Tea and chocolate pairings
“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.” – John Q. Tullius
Ever since the introduction of the British afternoon tea tradition, tea has been considered a beverage that is best accompanied by an assortment of delicate sandwiches and pastries. What may not be well known to many people is that chocolate and tea are absolutely made for each other! Here are some suggestions for pairing teas with various types of chocolate to create your very own tea tasting:
Host a heart-healthy tea party
If you are hosting an afternoon tea party, you can create a health conscience menu by replacing some of the foods or ingredients that are high in fat and sugar. The Tea Association of Canada’s dietitian Lucia Weiler has a few suggestions for a healthful and delicious tea time! This Valentine’s Day, enjoy a heart-healthy tea party with these menu tips.
Heart-healthy tea party menu tips:
Tier 1 – Tea Sandwiches:
- Egg Salad with watercress (Vegetarian)
- Hummus and alfalfa sprouts (Vegetarian)
- Cucumber and radish with a light cream cheese (Vegetarian)
- Smoked salmon with minced fresh dill, light cream cheese and cucumber
- Beef and horseradish (www.tea.ca) with a jar of roasted red pepper
- Cheese (cheddar) with apple slices (leave on apple skin for colour and fibre)
Try cherry tomatoes for garnish.
Use different soft breads (look for whole grains with at least 2 grams fibre in each slice). Cut sandwiches in different shapes (square, finger, circle, moon – try cookie cutters).
Tier 2 – Sweets:
- Grapes, berries and dried apricots
- Biscotti or other lower calorie cookies (Skip the scones, cream, jam and rich pastries.)
- Chocolate (a selection of fine thin slices of dark chocolate)
Serve in pots. Use your favourite set or mix and match a variety of tea pots and cups.
Best Brewing tips:
- Green and Oolong – brew for 3 minutes in 80C degree water.
- Black tea – brew for 5 minutes in boiling water (100C).
On the side:
- Lemon slices
- Sugar (brown and white)
Just a reminder: tea without milk or sugar is a zero calorie beverage!
Enjoy the month of February!