By Becky Cook

For most of my life I couldn’t have cared less about chocolate of any kind. I guess I didn’t miss it because there simply wasn’t much candy available in my childhood home. Later, in my own home, I baked the annual German chocolate cake requested by one of our sons for his birthday. OR, I also enjoyed   sipping a cozy cup of hot cocoa when curled up with a good book on a winter evening. But, from what I know now, those are pale versions of what it means to have a real encounter with the robust flavor of dark chocolate.

All during Dave Leestma’s (Mountain Breeze editor )tenure as Music Director at Fairfield Mountains Chapel he tried countless creative ways to extract desired musical sounds from the choir. The choir members possessed a variegated collection of musical talents and singing skills, including the ability (or NOT) to read music! One of Dave’s “tricks” to try to get the rich, full, heady sound he had in mind was to ask us to turn our thoughts to rich, dark chocolate and to think how a bite of it might make us feel. . . . i.e. “MMMMMM” or mmMMMmm”. This included taking a deep breath, proper positioning of our mouths, and raising our eyebrows. It sounded doable, though at the time I had so little chocolate sense, my efforts to produce what he wanted were pretty much wasted. I can only say that my curiosity was piqued and I was ready to discover the way this magic fix could help.

I truly had no recollection of tasting this delectable confection before. Until one day when I was shopping with my daughter-in-law in a Florida mall, and she took me in to a See’s
Chocolate Shop. My eyes opened wide with the first bite! OH MY GOODNESS!!! The honeymoon was on. It was the beginning of a forever love affair with this fabulous sweet morsel. Even a single small piece created a sensation which might indeed elicit the musical sound Dave wanted the singers in choir to produce. Had I arrived at the “aha moment” ! ?

Well YES! The curiosity is that just about the same time I made the discovery of dark chocolate as a sweet distraction, I also learned that there are other benefits we can receive by having (dark) chocolate in our diets. It’s been linked with helping to lower blood pressure, helping improve cholesterol levels, and it can help insulin function. Further, it’s considered effective in lowering risk of heart disease. There’s more! If you want to get really technical you can size up the different benefits based on how dark your particular chocolate really is. Darker is better because of greater strength of the antioxidant phenols in the cocoa used to make it. HAD ENOUGH!?

A warning! Having the motto “more is better” does not apply here. Moderation is the key. Not more than 3.5 ounces a day. And don’t let the chocolate you eat replace healthy foods in your diet. Research continues on the health benefits of daily chocolate intake. I’m trying to figure out how to become a “subject” in one of those studies! I allow myself one small piece of dark chocolate a day. While I’m not likely to hear Lyn Weaver (current Chapel Music Director) ask current choir members to sing with dark chocolate feeling, I don’t think she’ll complain if we remember what that is and how we reproduce it!