Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can Chocolate Help Save The Planet?

Ethical, organic dark chocolate...benefits that can save the world.

Here's yet another wonderful podcast from the fabulous NPR - How Chocolate Can Save the Planet! Check out this podcast and article by Joanne Silberner, full of fascinating details. Here's an excerpt from the written article:

"...How could chocolate help with global climate change?

The answer is found in a little piece of paradise, a patch of rainforest in eastern Brazil. Everywhere you look, something is growing. Orchids nestle in the crooks of trees. There are hundreds of shades of green, and the forest is loud with birds and insects.

Photo: Anna Vigran, NPR

Some areas have been thinned out and planted with cacao trees — the source of chocolate. The pods contain the magical beans that Aztecs counted like gold. The cultivated cacao trees grow just a bit higher than a man can reach, and rainforest trees tower over them like something out of Dr. Seuss — some round like lollipops, some flat like a plate.
And here's the climate connection. Rainforest trees and plants store massive amounts of carbon — keeping it from getting into the air as carbon dioxide."

You can read the rest of this wonderfully vivid article here as well as download the podcast.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dark Chocolate....How it Promotes Heart Health!

Grab those dark chocolate truffles! Are you curious to know more about all of the marvelous benefits that dark chocolate has to offer?

In this article on, we find out more delicious details about how flavenoid-rich dark chocolate promotes optimal heart health!

Have a look:

"....Flavonoids provide important protective benefits to plants, such as in repairing damage and shielding from environmental toxins. When we consume plant-based foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power. Antioxidants are believed to help the body's cells resist damage caused by free radicals, formed by normal bodily processes such as breathing or environmental contaminants like cigarette smoke. When the body lacks adequate levels of antioxidants, free radical damage ensues, leading to increases in LDL-cholesterol oxidation and plaque formation on arterial walls."

Makes your heart happy, doesn't it? Find out more here on

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Dalai Lama and The Doctor Within

The benefits of finding your inner doctor!

From the wonderful blog on the New York Times, "Happy Days - The Pursuit of What Matters in Toubled Times", comes this inspiring article by Pico Iyer. In this article, he takes us with him on a recent visit to meet the Dalai Lama at New York's Town's an excerpt in his own words:

".....We can’t change the world except insofar as we change the way we look at the world — and, in fact, any one of us can make that change, in any direction, at any moment. The point of life, in the view of the Dalai Lama, is happiness, and that lies within our grasp, our untapped potential, with every breath.

Easy for him to say, you might scoff. He’s a monk, he meditates for four hours as soon as he wakes up and he’s believed by his flock to be an incarnation of a god.* Yet when you think back on his circumstances, you recall that he was made ruler of a large and fractious nation when he was only 4 years old. He was facing a civil war of sorts in Lhasa when he was just 11, and when he was 15, he was made full political leader and had to start protecting his country against Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, leaders of the world’s largest (and sometimes least tractable) nation."

".....The Buddha generally presented himself as more physician than metaphysician: if an arrow is sticking out of your side, he famously said, don’t argue about where it came from or who made it; just pull it out. You make your way to happiness not by fretting about it or trafficking in New Age affirmations, but simply by finding the cause of your suffering, and then attending to it, as any doctor (of mind or body) might do.

The first words the Dalai Lama said when he came into exile, I learned not long ago, were “Now we are free.” He had just lost his homeland, his seeming destiny, contact with the people he had been chosen to rule; he had been forced to undergo a harrowing flight for 14 days across the highest mountains in the world. But his first instinct — the result of training and teaching, no doubt, as much as of temperament — was to look at what he could do better. Now."

Read the rest of Pico Iyer's intriguing article here (speaking of the Dalai Lama, we all know his taste in chocolate is quite exquisite!).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Healthy, Delicious Way to Boost Brain Power- Chocolate!

Dark, kosher chocolate can boost the brain and increase vitality!

What luscious news for those of us looking to boost brain power! According to this intriguing article on, "eating chocolate could help to sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills".

Here's more about the study led by Professor Ian Macdonald at The University of Nottingham:

"...Increased blood flow to these areas of the brain may help to increase performance in specific tasks and boost general alertness over a short period.
The findings, unveiled at one of the biggest scientific conferences in America, also raise the prospect of ingredients in chocolate being used to treat vascular impairment, including dementia and strokes, and thus for maintaining cardiovascular health.
The study also suggests that the cocoa flavanols found in chocolate could be useful in enhancing brain function for people fighting fatigue, sleep deprivation, and even the effects of ageing."

We feel smarter already! Read more about yet another wonderful benefit of enjoying a bit of dark chocolate here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Days and Meditation...

If dark, gourmet chocolate makes you smile, read about the benefits of meditation!

It's all about happiness! By Daniel Goleman of the New York Times, here's a fascinating article with the Tibetan lama, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche about the benefits of meditiation - does it include greater happiness?

Here's more from the New York Times:

"...But when it comes to his own pursuit of happiness, Buddhist theory and practice are Rinpoche’s chosen tools. He has done several years-long meditation retreats, under the tutelage of some of the most renowned Tibetan masters. Of course, what we mean by “happiness” can be elusive, what with the myriad varieties of good feeling running from ecstasy to equanimity. One flavor of happiness at which Rinpoche seems to excel has been well-studied by scientists specializing in how emotions operate in our brains.

Richard Davidson, who heads the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, has found one distinct brain profile for happiness. As Davidson’s laboratory has reported, when we are in distress, the brain shows high activation levels in the right prefrontal area and the amygdala. But when we are in an upbeat mood, the right side quiets and the left prefrontal area stirs. When showing this brain pattern, people report feeling, as Davidson put it to me, “positively engaged, goal-directed, enthusiastic, and energetic.”

Image from

Mingyur Rinpoche came to Davidson’s lab as one of a dozen or so meditation adepts, each of whom had put in anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 lifetime hours of meditation. Research on expertise in any skill shows that world-class champs have put in at least 10,000 hours of practice; these were Olympic-level meditators."

Enjoy the entire article here on the New York Times.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Hope and Intentionality" by New Guest Blogger, Patrice Naparstek !

A beneficial new blogger!

Given the power of hope to change the world and given that we have to ability to personally create hope…. we thought a series of guest blogs on the subject of hope and intentionality might be fun. To kick it off we asked Patrice Naparstek to gives us her thoughts on the subject.

Patrice taught Dance and PE for over twenty years at the University of Wisconsin. She also worked as a somatic therapist (Rolfing - Structural Integration and Cranial-Sacral Therapy) for over 15 years.

She is passionate about many things but her top priorities are truth in relationship, knowledge of self and learning to sit still long enough to recognize both. She is currently working on classes designed to support anatomy in embodied movement.

We hope you enjoy her blog and hope it is the start of a conversation that feeds the soul.

Hope and Intentionality, by Patrice Naparstek :

The feeling of hope is often like a loosely woven shawl draped around me with no beginning and no end often accompanied by teary eyes and goose bumps. It also sometimes feels that I have little power how hope manifests. If I want to find hope it often seems that I have to look outside of myself by talking about, thinking about or connecting to something other than myself.

On the other hand – have you ever made an intention – the fully committed without a doubt throwing of yourself into a direction? Maybe you decided to follow a passion of yours, quit a job and throw your hat into the ring of your passion. Your phone rings and an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while asks, “Are you still interested in carousel horses”, or “Would you like to be in a new play I’ve written?” Suddenly the world around you supports your decision, gives you access, shows you the way.

When I’ve set an intention I’ve found that it often resides in my body as an energetic presence. Not always in the same place but actual, sensate and real. Knowing where it is helps me to find my back to it as life and the habits of mind distract me from my intention.

Try this. Sit up and either set an intention for yourself, “I’m going to call my mother”, or “I’m going to finish that sweater I started”, or remember a time when you felt the strength of your own intention. Now, where does your intention live in your body? It might be in one of the chakra regions or somewhere in an organ, like your heart or lungs, or even in the bottoms of your feet. Take a moment to really feel where it is, what is the tone of your intention, its weight, its color, its shape. Give your self time to really feel where and what it is. By doing this you create an internal road map to your intention which in turn allows you to recommit your energies, to find the source of your commitment. The practice of setting an intention has become commonplace in our Western lives. To deepen that practice we might realize that body and mind are really one – we can’t separate them and the more we recognize that link the more clear becomes our way to realization of our intentions.

Hope is beautiful, necessary but often springs from a well outside of our selves. But intention – the fully committed, wholly present focus of our wills is what moves us to action. When we recognize that it resides in us, literally can be found in our own bodies it is like the world lines up with us to make manifest that intention. Then Hope shines from within us giving the feeling of self-reliance that we can co-create a better world.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

“Corkage and Commitment” by Guest Blogger, Nicholas Waerzeggers!

Take the intentional nature of food, its culture, restaurants, personalities, products, growers, producers & caretakers and their intentions, mix in wry commentary on how and why we collectively participate in the sacred sharing of food.....and you have the second installment in our newest blog series, “Corkage and Commitment” by Nicholas Waerzeggers.

Nic has a unique perspective to share, as Maitre D' and resident Dionysius of L’Etoile Restaurant (a personal favorite), he intentionally presides over and participates in nightly celebrations of food and wine. We hope you find Nic's contributions lively, informative and thought provoking.

Wine and chocolate share the duty of carrying intentions attached to celebrations. Wine, the drink of Europe and Chocolate, the drink of the Americas. Both ceremonial, both stepped in thousands of years of myth and legend and both informed by their own Gods. Gods who show us that the fruit of the earth is a true transformative agent. Join IC and Nic in celebrating life intentionally!!

Corkage and Commitment:

The other day I was trying to gauge just how sorry I should feel for Paul Giamatti’s character, Miles, at the end of the film Sideways. The particular scene I’m referring to is when Miles drinks his 1961 Cheval Blanc from a Styrofoam cup alongside a flattened hamburger and a pile of onion rings at the intentionally morose burger joint. When I recalled his head rocking slowly back and his eyes rolling to a close, I decided I wasn’t feeling too sorry.

Photo of "Sideways" from
Certainly, there was a whole lot more going on emotionally and artistically in that scene than commentary about drinking expensive wine alone in a vinyl booth under florescent lighting. The movie was, after all, largely about Pinot Noir (not Bordeaux) and drinking that most seductive of grapes with friends, lovers, and even enemies.

What I do know is that Miles, if nothing else, escaped paying a corkage fee.
It seems that nearly everyone these days is being exonerated from paying for this oft misunderstood privilege of bringing one’s own wine to a restaurant. Restaurants across the country, including those who’ve ‘won’ The Wine Spectator’s Grand Award, have either waived or drastically reduced the amount they charge clientele to bring in their own bottle of wine. This move has not been limited to the United States either. My belief is that both diner and restaurateur, provided each approach the subject tactfully and courteously, stand to benefit. It’s a fascinating topic, really. While it seems to go without saying that diners know not to bring their own food to a restaurant (although there are some egregious offenses in this regard) it appears that some diners don’t think twice about stopping off at the liquor store moments before their reservation and plopping down a brown paper bag on the host stand. Rather than assume, diners should educate themselves and always call ahead to check on a restaurant’s corkage policy. Better yet, they should take a moment to peruse the restaurant’s website to try to gain its philosophy on wine and the types of grapes or wines featured on its list. In the process, the diner should have found some material with which they can engage the server or wine steward once the wine begins to exchange hands at the restaurant. Most importantly, guests must acknowledge that bringing their own wine is an extension of courtesy on the part of the restaurant.

I suggest it’s a courtesy because the average restaurant will lose the equivalent of about 26 average-priced-bottles-of-wine-worth of breakage and chipped glasses in the course of a year, or the equivalent of about 125 glasses of wine. That’s in addition to compensating staff to wash and polish the glassware, which, not surprisingly, is the equivalent for servers of Miles being forced to drink Merlot.

Just as the guest acknowledges the restaurant’s courtesy, so must the restaurant carry through on that hospitality. This means that a diner should expect the same attentive level of wine service that they would have received had they selected something from the restaurant’s wine list. The moment a guest’s bottle is opened then has the potential for a beauty seldom matched during traditional wine service. A couple, in for their anniversary, shares the story behind their being gifted the wine while on their honeymoon in Columbia Valley. Meanwhile, the server contemplates what the wine means to the couple. Then, the couple gestures to the server to pour themselves a taste (which every restaurant worth its vertical or horizontal collections should allow and encourage). The server must not pour a token taste either. The amount should be at least an ounce, but ideally about two, giving the server and their colleagues a chance to share the wine and talk about it with guests in the future. The courtesy is completed once the server shares their thoughts about the wine with the guests and perhaps also a story about their own trip to Columbia Valley.

Certainly not all restaurants can go through this ritual, just as every couple dining out will not be celebrating an anniversary or any special occasion. Therefore, some of my favorite places to bring wine are pizza joints, small family-owned Mexican restaurants (I like Mexican food, though I don’t necessarily know how to spell certain Mexican dishes - tostadas) and supper clubs. Here, $3 corkage fees are not unheard of and the staff often shows the greatest appreciation for a taste of wine they wouldn’t otherwise have encountered.
So, check the restaurant’s policy about corkage. If you’re still uncertain as to whether your wine is appropriate, you should feel pretty confident about bringing it in if your wine meets one of these criteria:

-Your wine and its maker are not represented on the restaurant’s wine list.

-Your wine is made from a grape that is not represented on the restaurant’s wine list.

-Your wine is older than the restaurant (provided the restaurant is at least ten years old).

-Your wine predates the person who will ultimately be serving it.

And, if you haven’t come straight from the liquor store with your wine (no brown paper bag, no price sticker), buy a bottle of wine or at least a glass of bubbly from the restaurant during your dinner, share a portion of your wine with the staff, namely the chef,and don’t break any wine glasses…well, here’s the best seat in the house.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Intentional Chocolate's Dean Radin, Phd. Featured on NPR! Have a Listen...

Dark chocolate & the benefits of intentional foods...

It's a lovely summer afternoon, just ripe for relaxing and listening to a tasty podcast on the widely beloved NPR!

Here's a rather delicious podcast for you to check out featuring one of Intentional Chocolate's scientists, Dean Radin, PhD.

Here, he discusses intentional foods on the NPR podcast hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table.

You can listen to the entire podcast here or forward to the segment featuring Mr. Radin here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Delicious Listening - Jim Walsh Interviewed on KCRW's "Good Food"!

All about Good Food (and dark, gourmet organic chocolate, of course!)!

Below is the link to the utterly lovely KCRW's succulent podcast, "Good Food". In this episode,Intentional Chocolate's founder, Jim Walsh, chats with host Evan Kleiman about all things chocolate! Here's more about the podcast:

"...Jonathan Gold feasts on a seven-course beef dinner at Vietnam, while chef José Andréssavors flavors "Made in Spain." Ted Haigh mixes up Valentine cocktails and Jim Walsh offers blessed chocolates. Nutritionist Carol Simontacchi fights against crazy-making additives and food scientist Harold McGee has tips on using heat effectively in the kitchen and David McIntyre celebrates Chinese New Year in Las Vegas and Laura Avery finds what's in season in the Market Report."

Follow this link to hear the podcast - Happy listening!

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Spark Than Ever - "8 Inspirational Older People" !

Vitality abounding!

We recently found this marvelous post on entitled "8 Inspirational Older People". It tells the stories of 8 people ranging in age from 56 to 108 (yes, 108!) who have managed to keep their lives and accomplishments not only ultra - progressive, but truly inspiring!

Here's an excerpt from the post about Olive Riley, the who was "the world's oldest blogger":

"....Believed to have been the world's oldest blogger, Australian woman Olive Riley began her blog The Life of Riley in February 2007 at the age of 107 and made her final post on 26 June 2008 from a nursing home in Woy Woy, New South Wales, complaining of a cough about two weeks before she died at the age of 108. She had posted over 70 entries, as well as several video posts on YouTube. Her blog (or "blob" as she called it) was inspired by her experience with documentary filmmaker Michael Rubbo who, in 2005, made a documentary about her titled All About Olive."

Photo of Olive Riley from

Read more here on about these wonderful people that, like a marvelous wine, improve through the years.