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  1. Cocoa Beans - chocolate timeline

    Here at Cocoa and Heart, we’re fascinated by all things chocolate. And chocolate itself and how it was first cultivated in Central America as a bitter drink and then brought over to Europe and gradually developed into a chocolate bar for eating, has a fascinating history all of its own. Here are some of the key dates in the History of Chocolate Timeline.

    1,500 BC: The people of Central America begin to drink chocolate. The cacao tree may have been cultivated earlier than people first thought. Linguistic links to the words cacao and chocolate can be traced back to the Olmec peoples which pre-dates Maya and Atzec civilisation by several hundred years.

    900 AD: Maya Civilisation: Pottery cups found in the tombs of Maya nobility contain symbols for cacoa and images for its preparation.     

  2. licorice-2543337_1920

    Who loves a bit of Liquorice? As a kid, did you chew on a stick and then rush to the mirror with your mates, to see your tongue and gums turn a sticky shade of black?

    Liquorice, in all its sorts, is a staple of many a candy goody bag and no pick n mix collection would be complete without a gooey stick of black – or Spanish as it’s traditionally referred to either side of the Pennines.

    So what is liquorice, where does it come from, and what is it used for - besides vying for our attention at supermarket checkout tills and cinema ticket queues.

  3. food-2597169_1920

    How could I possibly ask whether chocolate bad for me, when I'm sure you've already heard this: Chocolate is the new wonder food!

    Chocolate is full of minerals such as magnesium, iron and zinc. Chocolate helps release endorphins which are mood enhancers, making us feel good about ourselves. Eating chocolate can combat heart disease. Chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants which help to open up the blood vessels to the heart.

    The list seems endless. A multitude of research reports the hidden benefits of chocolate.  Scientific studies point to its many health qualities. Suddenly, there doesn’t seem to be anything that chocolate can’t do.  Goddamit – as the Americans might say – it even tastes good to most of us!

  4. Hot chocolate drink

    In the long dark winter evenings many of us will reach for a cup of hot chocolate or cocoa to make us feel better. At least temporarily. But, do you know what? If you drink good quality, low fat, unsweetened dark chocolate, you just might be doing yourself more than just a flavour favour.

    Is hot chocolate good for you? Well, chocolate was first originally drunk rather than eaten. The Mayans and later the Aztecs civilisations of Central & South America used chocolate as a bitter frothy drink, flavoured with chilis. In modern day Spain, it is served thick and dark as a dipped accompaniment to churros – a doughnut type based spiral shaped sugar laden sweet, often eaten at breakfast.

  5. chocolate bar with almonds

    Can dark chocolate benefits weight loss? It’s a comment that’s often made and repeated with a question mark at the end of the sentence – either as a definitive statement in itself, or as a hope or wish. After all, wouldn’t it be great if some form of chocolate was good for us. A bit like all those studies that say a glass of red wine a day will help us live longer.

    In its raw form, cocoa is very high in a raw plant nutrient called flavonols. Now, research tests seem to point to the flavonol content found in dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity in healthy people. What’s insulin? Well, it’s a complex hormone found in numerous biochemical reactions in the body. One of its role is in helping to process whether food is either absorbed into the body or stored as fat.