An Ode to Chocolate

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We’re almost halfway through the month already!!  I have wanted to write several times thus far this month, but having been on call every other day for over a week now, I just simply didn’t have the energy or time!  This past week, one of my pregnant chief residents had a check-up, which revealed she had a premature rupture of membranes.  She is going to have to be admitted to the hospital until the baby is delivered, and she was only about 6 months along.  They are hoping for the baby to not be born for at least 2 weeks, and even when the baby is born, that poor baby will have to be in the NICU until February!

As if all of that isn’t sad enough, the rest of us have had to absorb her calls, which hasn’t been an easy task.  The brunt of it is of course aimed at me and my other 2nd year co-resident; we’ve been just completely exhausted from all the call this week.  The chief gave us most of the extra calls because we’re lowest on the totem pole, but our senior has only a handful of calls and hasn’t really picked up any extra shifts.  I just feel like in a time where there aren’t very many of us attempting to cover so many shifts, it seems like it would be better to spread the shifts out a tad more.  In fact, they had scheduled me for this weekend, as well, but I have worked the last 4 weekends (3 saturdays and a Friday, which doesn’t really count as a weekend, but you’re still working until Saturday morning), and haven’t had a totally free weekend since our anniversary, October 10th.  I am already scheduled for next weekend, but if I had to work this weekend, it would have made 6 weeks without a single weekend free.  Plus, after having to be on call every other day this past week, I was just exhausted at the very thought of no time off.  I have worked every single day since I returned from my last Georgia trip.  So, I requested to have it changed to someone else (preferably someone who only had one other weekend to work), but they gave it to the other 2nd year, who is also exhausted.  I just don’t think it’s right to force us to take all the extra call- I understand we have more than our seniors (because that’s a perk of being senior), but I just don’t see why in this time of need, it had to be so blatantly uneven.  Just another mark in my frustration with the way it’s being done.

On a different note, as of this week, hubby and I have joined a gym and started taking classes!!  We have taken a couple of yoga classes (sooo awesome) and a body combat class (sooo exhausting).  On the days we didn’t take classes (and weren’t on call), we hopped on ellipticals for half hour or so.  It’s been really eye-opening taking the classes- I haven’t taken classes at a gym before.  We also found that it’s a great way to hold each other accountable- we have to go to the gym, because we our class starts in 20 minutes.

I have also discovered that they are carrying greek yogurt at work!  Since then, I haven’t touched not one of those 2 dozen cookies they put out in the resident’s lounge daily!

But what I really wanted to write about was this: The American Academy of Neurology recently ran an article that Chocolate, in conjunction with a Mediterranean Diet and Red Wine, may cut stroke risk by 60-ish%!!  The article suggests eating 1/2 a regular sized bar of very dark chocolate per week is enough to significantly reduce your risk!  So, let’s talk about chocolate!!!  Very dark chocolate contains more of the antioxidants and flavanoids which are so beneficial, while containing less added sugar and fat.  The darker the better.  Why?  Because antioxidants (also found in blueberries, blackberries, other dark fruits and veggies) fight harmful oxygen free radicals.  As we age, more free radicals build up in our bodies, leading to breakdown of the integrity of all types of tissues: skin, blood vessels, etc.  Things with antioxidants rid our body of free radicals, literally keeping us younger!  Maintain the integrity of the skin, and you have fewer wrinkles.  Likewise, maintain the integrity of your blood vessels, and have fewer strokes (among other things!).  The fountain of youth is literally made of antioxidants!

A few words about the history of chocolate.  It is grown in central america, and yes, chocolate grows on trees.  The Mayan Native Americans were the first to use it, and called it Choclatl.  They made a greasy drink of cocao beans, vanilla, and pepper (almost like a spicy hot chocolate!) and drank that at celebrations, ceremonies, etc.  They used it also for medicinal purposes.  And now, we have discovered we can do something similar- help to prevent strokes/dementias/heart problems!  Read more about the history of chocolate: World Cocoa Foundation. or Wiki Chocolate.

I have read somewhere to try to eat 70% cacao and above, but sometimes that results in a chalky or brittle bar.  Now, Ghirardelli makes a great bar of dark chocolate.  There are some delicious smaller-name brands, like Chocolove, that also make a nice bar of chocolate.  I have tried Dagoba organic chocolate bars and like them, too.  Oddly enough, for simple eating purposes, I don’t really like Hershey’s, and Hershey’s dark chocolate is only like 55% cacao.  It’s got a more alkaline recipe, and translates almost to a sour flavor, which lots of people recognize as the Hershey’s signature flavor (but it’s not may favorite).  My favorite dark chocolate bar is by Green & Blacks, it’s organic, and they add a little more cocoa butter to their recipe, and it results in a luxuriously smooth chocolate bar.

Of course, you could make bark out of a melted bar of chocolate- adding a little chopped pistachios or almonds and sprinkling some sea salt could sure dress it up a tad!

One thing is abosolutely for sure: I’m gonna really enjoy preventing those strokes.  Glass of red wine in one hand and bite of dark chocolate in the other- I’m pretty sure I could get used to this!

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