Posts Tagged 'chocolate'

Summer Cookout Series: Chocolate Pretzel Bars

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Photo via Julie Craig

Well, would you look at that. We are already at the last week of July! Since this month is coming to an end, I want to share with you my favorite way to end any meal – dessert. And since we are still talking about summer cookouts, I dug up one of my favorite picnic desserts and tweaked it just a tad to make it a little bit healthier.

This gooey, chocolatey, pretzel-filled dessert has all the ingredients to appease any kind of cookout guest. Take on a sweet tooth with the melty chocolate and satisfy the salt-lover with the chunks of pretzels bursting from every bite. These pleasing pretzel bars are the perfect way to end the party.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups of whole grain wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
1 cup of light brown sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
One 12-ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of crushed cocoa nibs
1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped mini quinoa pretzels
2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with parchment or wax paper, allowing overhang on the edges of the pan.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a larger bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light, so only beat it for about 1 minute. Then add  in the eggs and vanilla and beat again. At a lower speed,  now beat in the dry ingredients. After, stir in the chips, nibs and pretzels by hand.
  3. Spread this concoction in the pan and dust the top with the mini chocolate sprinkles. Bake for a half an hour until golden and the center should still be still be a little gooey. Let cool completely. Just pull on the parchment paper to get the bars out of the pan. Cut them up and enjoy!

The difference between dieting and disorder

Since this past week marked the beginning of the Lenten season, many of us have either been thinking about or hearing a lot about people around us giving up certain pleasures of life as an act of self-discipline. For many people, their observation comes in the form of cutting out certain foods, avoiding staples ranging from brownies to bread. While hearing about people’s new 40-day diets, though, I cannot help but be a bit concerned that these individuals are still taking care of their bodies effectively.

For me, it all started from stress-induced stomach ulcers in high school. I was put on a strict diet and had to avoid eating all the good stuff that you and I love these days, like excessive sugar, coffee, greasy foods, dairy and, wait for it… CHOCOLATE (jaw drop**). Let me tell you, the first few weeks, it was tough and rice never tasted so bland in my life, but after I saw the effects it had on my body, I began to not mind so much. With my stomach to blame, eating nearly nothing became an easy habit to get into and a terrifying one to break. By avoiding so many foods that I felt were “not good for me,” I began to seriously lack nutrients that I needed to live regularly.

Now, the remainder of this story I will supply another day, but for now I just want it to serve as evidence that I understand first hand what it can be like to suddenly obsess over avoiding the consumption of foods that can generally be seen as bad for you. The point is, giving up specific foods for Lent or dieting is admirable, but being safe and healthy while doing so is where the real value lies.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, nearly 10 million Americans have an eating disorder. Education, though, can be an excellent method of prevention. By understanding how your body works and the importance of even sugars and fats, you are less likely to diet in a way that hurts your body and more likely to effectively maintain healthier food habits. It isn’t about eating less; it is about eating smarter.

Everyone’s body needs a certain amount of energy in order to function correctly daily. So if you’ve decided to give up carbs or meat for Lent or if your new diet consists of drinking only juice, think about how your body will take in the nutrients it needs to work how it needs to. Finding alternative healthy calorie options to replace those that you have cut out is important. Even if you are trying to lose weight, your body still needs the energy, the nutrients and the vitamins only found in food.

Ok, so fear not. This story has a happy ending. I’m doing great, and if you were to be looking for me, you would probably find me at a buffet at this moment. Many people struggle with eating disorders still, though. If you are unsure about healthy diet methods, or even if you are really damaging your body through your Easter-season fasting, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor. The Marquette Employee Counseling Center has many resources for those suffering from eating disorders, as well. Also, if you or any loved ones show signs of an eating disorder, don’t be afraid to contact the National Eating Disorder helpline.

By raising awareness of healthy dieting habits, we can diminish the prevalence of these debilitating eating disorders.

Being your own Valentine

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Photo via botcommunications.com

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and we’re all scrambling to get our loved ones mementos to show them our love. One thing that we should not forget this season of love, though, is to show some love to the most important person in our lives – ourselves!

Self-love is one of the most challenging goals to reach but with small steps, its totally achievable. And what better time to take care of yourself than Valentine’s Day, the day of love? Here’s some quick ways to reinforce the self-love this week.

Accept your flaws. – Everyday each of us messes up. That’s alright, we are only human. Go ahead and give yourself some love by being forgiving of yourself when you mess up. Instead of taking a negative position on the matter, encourage yourself to do better next time.

Take a bath. – Or an extra long shower or just sit in the sauna at the gym. You deserve to relax, especially after all the hard work you put in at work and at home every day. Taking the time to pamper yourself can really improve your mood and view of yourself.

Chocolate (in moderation). – Not just chocolate, but any kind of small savory treat is alright every once in a while. As long as it is in moderation, treating yourself is always a great way to reward yourself for being exactly the way you are.

Spend quality time with your loved ones. – Surrounding yourself with positive people and people you care about a lot is a great way to build up your own self-respect and self-worth. Hanging out with your family or other loved ones not only allows you to positively influence their lives, but they can positively influence yours too.

Dress up. – Dressing for success is a real thing. When you take the time to wear your favorite shirt with a pair of shoes you like or do your hair the way you think is best, it helps build your self-confidence. Feeling like you look good on a daily basis can help you keep you chin up and ultimately boost your self-esteem.


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