Is Chocolate sexy? by @TaylorLeeWrites

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
Charles M. Schulz

Chocolate Candy

In answer to the question above, the answer is ‘Heck Yes!” Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but if you’re a Romantic Suspense writer like I am, love and romance is a 365-day-a-year adventure. While science and romance may seem to be at odds, I love it when science studies issues critical to those of us who write (and love) Romantic Suspense. The scientific study below (reported by Diana Herrington @DancinginLife) asks: Which is a more powerful sexual turn on – a piece of chocolate or a kiss from the person you love most? Think you know the answer? Read on.

A Study of Chocolate

“According to a study at Mind Lab chocolate stimulated the brain more intensely than a kiss with a partner. They had 6 couples in their 20s wear heart and brain monitors. Each person in the study placed a piece of dark chocolate on their tongue and let it melt without chewing. Later, the couples kissed in the way they normally would. What the study found was that when the chocolate melted in the mouth, all areas of the brain were stimulated far more intensely. Their hearts even beat faster for longer after the chocolate than the intimate embrace.

Chocolate is famous for containing a ‘Love Drug’ because it triggers feelings of attraction, euphoria and excitement, mimicking the brain chemistry of a person in love. Dr. David Lewis, one of the researchers at Mind Lab, said: “There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz. A buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.”

Chocolate Boosts Mood, Eases Depression

Chocolate contains approximately 380 known chemicals, some of which promote serotonin production which boosts our mood and eases depression. They give a hormone rush that is similar to the rush of love-making as the pleasure center of the brain is triggered somewhat similarly to the peaks during an orgasm.

Chocolate has had a reputation as being an aphrodisiac throughout history. This dates back to the Mayan period from about 250 AD to 900 AD. The Mayans were chocoholics and highly valued the cacao bean. A man could hire a prostitute for eight to ten cacao beans. Rumor has it that the Aztec emperor Montezuma known for being a hot lover, drank 50 cups of cacao a day before heading off to his harem.

Nonetheless, the actual truth is cacao has never been fully proven to be an aphrodisiac. It does have the chemical composition, but in quantities so small you would need to consume as much as the emperor Montezuma did (which is not recommended).

A Feel Good Food

Without question, chocolate has been proven to be a “Feel good food.” Research proves that its ingredients help relax us mentally and physically and brings a sense of wellbeing which can promote sexual interest. Since chocolate improves mood, it can improve sex, but it does not need to strictly be an aphrodisiac.”

Back to the question: “Which is more powerful —a yummy piece of chocolate or a kiss from the person you love the most?”  My answer:  Why choose?  Double your odds.  Have them both!

Here is a tasty decadent chocolate recipe full of healthy ingredients using dark chocolate:

Cherry Pecan Dark Chocolate Bar

Ingredients:

  • 4 squares (approx. 112 gm) unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 Tbsp organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid light stevia
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1/4 cup pecans, roasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cherries, chopped in half

Directions:

  1. Dry roast pecans in a toaster oven or in frying pan (stir frequently so they do not burn).
  2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or very carefully in a saucepan.
  3. Use coconut oil to oil a small pan of approximately 8 inches square.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the cherries and pecans in the pan.
  5. When the chocolate is melted; remove from heat.
  6. Mix in the coconut oil and stevia.
  7. Then mix in honey.
  8. Pour melted chocolate mixture over the cherries and pecans.
  9. Let cool in refrigerator or freezer.
  10. Once set, then cut into squares. Store in covered container in refrigerator or freezer, if desired.

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As you are nibbling on your chocolate and having found a great person to share it with, grab: 

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JORDEN

Book 3: The Justice Brothers Series By Taylor Lee

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  • An Assistant US Attorney fights the legal battle of his life. This time Jorden’s on the defense and his children are at stake. 
  • An evil woman isn’t about to let her children and former husband go without a fight. And this woman fights dirty! 
  • A family drama that calls for the best and the worst of the two passionate lovers. Unfortunately, Jorden and McKenna discover that Justice—like Love– isn’t always fair or

WARNING: Romance so HOT it singes the pages.  HOT, tough, explicit. Not for the faint at heart.  Definitely bring a fan!

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Flourless Chocolate Cake #Recipe for #Foodies

I follow King Arthur Baking Co. on Facebook because I enjoy the recipes they share online. They also offer lots of tricks and tips for baking and cooking. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to bake and cook and try out new recipes. King Arthur Baking posted this recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake just a few days ago. Wow! Talk about rich and decadent!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Ingredients –

Cake:

  • 1 cup (170g) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (43g) Dutch-process cocoa

Glaze:

  • 1 cup (170g) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (113g) heavy cream
Directions –
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a metal 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan. See “tips,” below.
  2. To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
  4. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
  7. Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
  8. Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
  9. To make the glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it’s not quite at a simmer, but showing fine bubbles around the edge. Pour the cream over the chocolate and then stir very briefly to combine. let rest for 5 minutes. Stir again — at first slowly, then more vigorously — until the chocolate is completely melted and the glaze is smooth. If any bits of chocolate remain, reheat briefly in the microwave or over a burner, then stir until smooth.
  10. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.

Sugar Problems

From Dr. L. Lambert: Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you still need to be vigilant about the amount of sugar you consume every day. It’s not so much what you sprinkle on your morning cereal as what you eat when you’re noshing on processed foods. From sweetened beverages like fancy store-bought coffee to pasta sauces to breads — and of course, desserts — sugar is in lots of foods we eat.

Why You Need to Worry About Sugar
By A. Klemes, DO, FACE

Of all the things we eat, nothing perhaps does more harm than foods that are awash in sugar. Cakes, cookies, sugar-sweetened beverages like gourmet coffee and sodas come to mind. But sugar is everywhere — in low-fat yogurt and barbecue sauces, in granola, protein bars and canned soup, in canned fruit, smoothies and even spaghetti sauce and ketchup.

Sugar is everywhere because food manufacturers know our bodies crave it. When we consume sweet foods, our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It also releases opioids, which are associated with addiction. Of course, there are legitimate reasons food manufacturers add sugar: It gives foods flavor, texture and color; sugar preserves some foods; and it balances the acidity of some foods like tomatoes, among other things. And it makes sweet foods sweet.

How Much Sugar Is Okay?
The federal government recommends that Americans 2 years and older limit their sugar intake to less than 10 percent of daily calories. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s only 200 calories from added sugar — or roughly 12 teaspoons. Another way to put it: there are roughly 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, so 48 grams of sugar is the limit on a 2,000-calorie diet. A 20-oz soda has roughly 65 grams of added sugar. This extra sugar consumption is fueling record levels of obesity and the diseases that come with it: heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

Health Consequences of Too Much Sugar: More than 70 percent of Americans are overweight (me included!) or obese. The AHA estimates that the average American consumes more than 60 pounds of added sugar every year. The extra weight is driving an increase in preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea and even depression, among other conditions. In particular, sugar may interfere with leptin, a hormone the body produces to regulate hunger. Studies show that sugar may lead to leptin resistance—which can trigger obesity.

Sugar by another name: When you do buy processed food, pay close attention to food labels. Sugar masquerades under many different names, some of which you’re probably familiar with: corn syrup, sucrose and fructose. But there are at least 61 different ways manufacturers indicate sugar on a label. Here are some examples: Corn Syrup, Sucrose; Fructose; Honey; Fruit Juice; High Fructose Corn Syrup; Evaporated Cane Juice; Dextrin; Dextrose; Maltodextrin; Refiner’s Syrup; Sweet Sorghum; Molasses; Maltose; Glucose; Corn Sweetener; Beet Sugar; Barley Malt.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid all added sugar, but if you keep an eye on food labels and prepare more of your own food, you can hit recommended intake targets and eat a healthier diet.

When Dr. Lambert warned me that I was borderline diabetic, I stopped nibbling on dried fruits, chocolate covered almonds, and other deliciously addictive snacks.

Are you seriously avoiding extra sugar?

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Bunnies, Colored Eggs, Peeps and Hunts – EASTER is Here!

A little history first….  The first formal Easter celebration dates back to the 2nd century. But it is believed that Easter celebrations began earlier than that. The Christian holiday is to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ who rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion 2,000 years ago.

Easter Bunny and Eggs

Bunny Rabbits and Easter Eggs

In the medieval era, Christians would decorate eggs and eat them on Easter to celebrate the end of the Lenten fast–eggs couldn’t be eaten during the Holy Week. The first instance of eggs being decorated dates to the 13th century. In Christian symbolism, eggs represent new life, paralleling the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Bunnies have been associated with Easter since around the 17th-18th century!

But that’s enough of history — let’s move on to the fun stuff!

Most American families start off with an Easter Egg hunt, that can be before or after church, if that is your tradition. Sometimes the fun filled egg hunt will take place at a park, or school ground, or church–where you will see lots of little munchkins running around like crazy, loving the excitement as much as their prized chocolates, I’m sure.

The Good Ol’ Days

I remember the good old days when my parents would take my sister and I to church in our pretty new dresses, and how proud I’d be. Years have gone by, but for me Easter holiday is a memory of hiding colorful blue, and pink Easter eggs, chocolates and bunnies and little surprises around the house for the children to discover. Not sure who enjoyed it more, the kids or us, the parents.  Those days are long gone too.

For grandmas like me, it’s become a wonderful family time, followed by a delicious brunch or Easter dinner. A spiral ham has become the traditional meat of choice, but also turkey or prime rib, better yet– my favorite roast or grilled lamb can make a delicious addition or a great substitute.

On that note — here is a recipe for a Butterflied Leg of Lamb.

Easter Butterflied Leg of Lamb

This recipe came from a great friend of mine and she is a wonderful cook. I’ve tried it several times, grilling not roasted, but it is so amazing!!  I’m sure it’ll be perfect either way, but the timing will be important. My mouth waters just thinking about it! So easy, too:

  1. 1 5-lb leg of lamb, deboned and butterflied (weight after deboning).
  2. 12 oz bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce, a 5.5 oz bottle of mint sauce (Crosse & Blackwell), 1/2 cup oil
  3. Look for a leg of lamb that is mostly flat with the least fat. Pound it good so it’s about an inch or two thick and I suggest slicing off the extra fat.
  4. Combine chili sauce, mint sauce, and oil in a glass bowl. Pour over the lamb and marinate up to two days, turning the meat every 12 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, remove lamb from the sauce and grill over hot coals, basting often with the marinade. For medium rare, total cooking time is around 25 minutes. If you don’t own a grill, then place the lamb in a pre-heated oven set to 325* F for around 90-120 minutes.
  6. Carve the lamb into thin slices and choose your favorite sides. This is one of my easiest and best dinners ever!

HAVE A WONDERFUL EASTER NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! ALSO, DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT AUTHORS’ BILLBOARD FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL. GRAB THOSE BARGAINS! LEARN MORE ABOUT ME BY CLICKING HERE.