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Published February 26, 2013, 06:26 PM

Halgrimson: Chocolate, oatmeal mix for great cake

In the past few years, there has been a lot of news about the health benefits of chocolate – dark chocolate, always appended with the caveat “in moderation.”

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

In the past few years, there has been a lot of news about the health benefits of chocolate – dark chocolate, always appended with the caveat “in moderation.”

I’ve culled a few headlines from The Forum archive: “Eating dark chocolate may boost brain health,” “Dark chocolate might reduce blood pressure,” “Chocolate may help relieve coughs,” “Chocolate consumption also reduces stroke risk for men,” “Chocolate craving may be healthy,” “Chocolate-filled Valentine’s Day can be good for you,” “Eating chocolate does have some health benefits,” “Chocolate holds health potential.” And while “Zinc may help reduce risk of common cold,” dark chocolate is a food high in zinc.

I especially liked the fact that dark chocolate was included in a story early this year, “Top 15 Superfoods for people over 50.” That would be me, and I’ve been eating dark chocolate every day since I was 40, which was a while ago.

The entry on dark chocolate from the Superfoods story says, “Dark chocolate’s antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols, may help prevent heart attacks by protecting arteries from becoming clogged. Some studies indicate that consuming small amounts of dark (at least 70 percent cacao) chocolate on a regular basis can lower blood pressure and decrease the rate of stroke in women by 20 percent.”

The best chocolate that I can find locally is Ghirardelli, but I often order my favorites on-line at:

Valrhona –www.valrhona-chocolate.


Callebaut –www.


The Superfoods entry lists oatmeal, too: “Oatmeal’s top benefit comes from its high soluble-fiber content, which helps lower cholesterol. Oatmeal is low-fat, high in protein and loaded with iron and other minerals. One cup of cooked oatmeal is only 166 calories. But adding sugar or using instant oatmeal with sugar increases the calorie count.”

So the following recipe offers a double whammy to the state of one’s health. It comes from my friend Traci Nathans-Kelly who now lives in Ithaca, N.Y.

She writes, “My mom, being the perfect mom, probably cut the recipe out of Good Housekeeping or something. When I was about 11, I decided that this was my favorite cake, and that was that. It’s been my birthday cake ever since. Now that I’m a grown-up, I have to make it for myself. It’s not as good just for that reason (it’s always better when someone else cooks), but it’s still pretty darn good.

“It may seem odd to add oatmeal, but it disappears and only leaves a cake that is so moist that people ask for this recipe constantly.”

Traci’s Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

1¾ cup boiling water

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 stick butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cocoa

1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Pour water over oatmeal, let stand 10 minutes. Add sugars, butter, and stir until butter is melted. Add eggs and mix. Mix dry ingredients to oatmeal mixture. Add half of chips and stir in. Pour into greased 9-by-13 glass pan. Sprinkle with remaining chips. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Do not over-bake. (In fact, I often go to 25-28 minutes and check it – a little under-baking makes it even more wonderful.)

This column was written exclusively for The Forum.

Readers can reach Forum Food Columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson

at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com.