Enjoy some chocolate, but practice moderation

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Our National Extension Association of Family Consumer Sciences conference was held recently in Hershey, Pa. One of the workshops was about the health benefits of chocolate. Chocolate contains certain compounds that act as antioxidants that reduce free radicals, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dark chocolate is higher in these compounds, where white chocolate is very low in these antioxidant compounds.

Another component that is in chocolate in significant amounts is magnesium, which helps reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. However, most people overindulge in chocolate and consume too many calories which lead to weight gain.

In fact, according to published data, chocolate is the most craved food in North America. So, when and if you want to have some chocolate, our recommendation is to have some dark chocolate because it is the only type of chocolate that has the correct content to lower blood pressure and produce health benefits.

The major factor to remember when consuming dark chocolate is that it should be consumed in moderation, and a moderate amount is considered to be one ounce. It does not seem like a large amount but it is recommended to consume dark chocolate at least once a week, as long as you do so in moderation. So, on Oct. 28, which is National Chocolate Day, celebrate with a little bit of chocolate.

Try the following recipe courtesy of Dinner Tonight website from Texas A&M at https://dinnertonight.tamu.edu/recipe. For more information on Food for Thought programs, visit http://facebook.com/persongranvillefcs or email jennifer_grable@ncsu.edu

Cheesy Chicken Spinach Noodle Casserole

Serves 8

1lb. chicken breast skinless, boneless

10 3/4 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup, 98 percent reduced fat

1 cup water

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 Tbsp dry chives

1/2 Tbsp dry thyme

1/2 Tbsp dry parsley

16 oz. dry egg noodles, cooked

3 cups baby spinach, rinsed and chopped

1 cup cheddar cheese shredded, reduced fat

Wash hands and clean preparation area. Place chicken breast in the bottom of a slow cooker. In a small bowl combine cream of mushroom soup, water, garlic powder, onion powder, chives, thyme, and parsley. Pour seasoned soup mixture over chicken breast. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours until chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. Remove chicken breast from slow cooker and shred into fine pieces. Add shredded chicken back into the slow cooker and stir in hot cooked egg noodles, baby spinach, and shredded cheese. Replace lid and allow to heat through for 15-20 minutes until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information: 350 calories, 7g fat, 290mg sodium, 2g fiber, 26g protein

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