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Browsing articles by " Monica Erskine"
Dec
5

Hot Chocolate Bar

Life kind of slows down when you sip hot chocolate. It’s almost like the cup you hold in your hand creates a barrier to noise, interruptions, and worries. You become mellow and in love with the world. What’s that? You don’t experience this when you drink hot chocolate? Hmmm… maybe that’s because you haven’t tried this recipe.

It’s rich. It’s decadent. It’s life changing. Set your cell on silent, light every candle in your house and get yourself to the kitchen. It’s time you experienced Hot Chocolate Bar bliss!

HOT CHOCOLATE BAR

1 smooth milk or dark 3oz. Endangered Species Chocolate bar, chopped
1oz. water, room temperature
1 tablespoon hot water
1 1/2 cup hot milk

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In a double boiler over low heat, combine chocolate and 1oz. room temperature water until melted. Stir until smooth.

Remove from heat. Whisk in 1 tablespoon hot water. Stir in milk (you may wish to use less milk than the recipe calls for. Experiment.) Pour into 2 demitasse cups. Smell, sip, savor. Sweeten to taste if needed.

Creates 2 servings.

Question: To garnish or not to garnish? Comment below on how you top off your cup of hot chocolate.

Oct
15

Chocolate Bar Costumes

Some Endangered Species Chocolate Bars (like the Wolf, Bat, and Panther) already have a Halloween vibe about them…featuring creatures that prowl in the night. But other flavors (think Otter, Chimp, Sea Turtle) aren’t exactly the type of treat you’d give to a friend on Halloween…UNLESS you gave it a costume!  Here are two simple ways to dress up your chocolate bars for Halloween.

THE BAT BAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll need:

  • Black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • 3oz. Endangered Species Chocolate Bar
  • Glue
  • Goggly eyes (or draw your own!)

Cut your black construction paper in a bat shape using this template (or freehand it if using a chocolate bar that is a different size).

Lightly glue chocolate bar into the center of the bat shape.

Affix googly eyes to the head of the bat with glue.

Finally, fold the wings in over the chocolate bar and spot glue them into place.

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Mummified Chocolate Bar

Now that you’ve mastered the Bat Wrap, give this mummy chocolate bar costume a try! Instructions can be found at The Idea Room, a great place to get all sorts of fun, crafty inspiration!

Helpful Mummy Tip: cut crepe paper in half lengthwise to make a skinnier “bandage” – makes it much easier to wrap around the chocolate bar.

We’d love to see your costumed creations! Share them with us on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

Jul
30

The Bitter the Better!

Recently, chocolate has gone from sinner to savior as an onslaught of chocolate-centric research reveals that there are benefits to scored with each sweet bite. But not all chocolates are created equal. Different chocolates contain different amounts of the magic ingredient, flavanols (aka antioxidants that gobble up destructive molecules). As a general rule, the more bitter (the chocolate) the better (for our bodies). Here’s how the sweet stuff stacks up…

MILK CHOCOLATE

With fewer flavanols than dark, milk chocolate isn’t a top choice if your indulgence goal is to reap healthful antioxidants. You can pump up the health factor by selecting milk chocolate that has a high cocoa content (aim for 40+%) and fruit or nut inclusions to boost the good-for-you ingredients.

Try: Endangered Species Milk Chocolate with Cherries ($2.99 for 3oz). This bar boasts a 48% cocoa content and the cherries add an extra little dose of antioxidants.

WHITE CHOCOLATE

Sigh. Sorry. This confection doesn’t contain any cacao at all! But chocolate is really all about pleasure, right? So smile and indulge (in moderation, of course).

Try: Divine White Chocolate with Strawberries. The strawberries, dried at the peak of ripeness, will add a dose of antioxidants to your sweet treat.

DARK CHOCOLATE

The good news – you should probably be eating dark chocolate on a regular basis because this stuff is pretty darn good for you! The bad news? It only takes a little bit of dark chocolate per day to reap the benefits, so indulge in moderation. Since my official title is Chocolate Goddess, not Chocolate M.D., leap to these links to get solid info on how dark chocolate can protect you from UV damage, boost your cardiovascular health, and even lower your blood pressure.

Try: Endangered Species Chocolate 88% Dark Chocolate. ($2.99 for 3oz). It’s our highest cocoa content chocolate bar…remember, the bitter the better!

May
18

The ES Act Works

The Endangered Species Act is one of the most successful environmental laws in U.S. history and is America’s primary tool for protecting biodiversity. Its purpose is to prevent the extinction of our most at-risk plants and animals, increase their numbers, and restore them to a full recovery. Currently, the Act protects more than 1,900 species.

STRENGHT OF THE ACT

Very few species have gone extinct once granted protection under the Act.

The longer a species is listed under the Act, the more likely it is to be recovering.

Species with “critical habitat” designation under the Act are twice as likely to recover than those without this designation.

SUCCESSES

Bald Eagle – increased from 416 to 9,789 pairs between 1963 and 2006

Whooping Crane – increased from 54 to 513 birds between 1967 and 2006

Kirtland’s Warbler – increased from 210 to 1,415 pairs between 1981 and 2005

Peregrine Falcon – increased from 324 to 1,700 pairs between 1975 and 2000

Gray Whale - increased from 13,000 to 26,635 whales between 1968 and 1998

Grizzly Bear – increased from 224 to 500+ bears between 1975 and 2005

Source: Center for Biological Diversity

May 18th is Endangered Species Day. What endangered species are you most passionate about saving?

Apr
30

Choosing an Eco-Charity

We just wrapped up an Earth Day sweepstakes on Facebook, Win a Feel Good Moment, where we offered a chance to win $1000 for the non-profit of the winner’s choice. Choosing an eco-charity to support is a difficult one – there are so many great ones out there! We know this firsthand. To fulfill our 10% GiveBack Promise, we scour stacks of applications and dig deep into each organization. Here are shortcuts we’ve learned along the way to help you narrow down your choices and match up with the perfect conservation org:

1. PINPOINT YOUR CAUSE. Whether you’re interested in wildlife preservation, land conservation or climate change, there are resources to help you find an environmental org that supports your interests. Spend some time with a search engine to get a sense of the organizations out there that share your environmental concerns.

2. CHECK THEIR PERFORMANCE. Once you have a handful of organizations that speak to your eco concerns, Charity Navigator (for larger charities) and Better Business Bureau Giving Alliance (for local giving) are great places to dig deeper. These sites offer free tools to evaluate the financials, accountability and transparency of non-profits. With a few simple clicks, you’ll know which charities are trustworthy.

3. GET TO KNOW THEM, THEN JOIN THEM. Now that you’ve honed in on groups that mesh with your ideals, visit their websites. Sign up for their newsletters. Follow them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc). You’ll quickly gain an understanding of the scope of their work and involvement with their members. A good match will make you feel good, excited and involved in making an impact.

What advice would you give to someone who’s looking for a charity to support? Comment below and share your experiences.

 

Apr
2

A Dose of Dark

March is national Nutrition Month; a great opportunity to assess your diet and get reacquainted with sound eating habits. So as you prep your plate with leafy greens and bright red fruits. don’t forget to add a touch of brown – chocolate brown, that is! We all have a need for something sweet and dark chocolate is a healthful way to indulge that desire.  Scientific research shows that dark chocolate in small amounts can promote heart health, help cells resist damage from free radicals, and even help you better cope with stress.

Want to reap the maximum benefits from chocolate? Keep these 3 things in mind when selecting chocolate:

1. Aim for chocolate that has a 70% cocoa content or higher.

2. Make sure the first ingredient listed is chocolate liquor or cocoa (not sugar).

3. Choose natural and organic chocolate for a healthier planet and healthier you!

Cocoa contents of our dark chocolate at Endangered Species Chocolate range from 70-88%, chocolate liquor is the first ingredient listed on the nutritonal panel, and we offer natural and certified organic chocolate selections. Healthful never tasted so good!

What’s your preferred cocoa content?

 

 

 

Feb
29

Cookie Bars

This recipe is one of my favorites! It’s easy, quick and most likely you already have all these ingredients on hand. These cookie bars travel well – a great way to pack a bit of homemade love on your next hike, picnic or packed lunch.

Oatmeal and Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 bar (3oz.) Endangered Species Chocolate Dark Chocolate with Almonds & Cranberries, coarsely chopped into 1/4″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F.

CREAM together butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla. Add flour, salt and oats. Stir in chocolate and almonds.

SPRAY an 8″ square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour mixture into baking dish and spread evenly.

BAKE for 35-40 minutes, until top is slightly browned. Let cool. Cut into twelve 2″ squares or 24 bars.

Want another on-the-go homemade chocolate snack? You’ll use three 3oz Endangered Species Chocolate bars in this recipe, Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark with Sea Salt.

What is your favorite dessert to take on outdoor adventures? Share by commenting below.

 

 

Nov
1

S’more Technique

 

Over the years, I’ve managed to alienate boyfriends, good friends, my husband and (for shame) my 5-year old son with my die hard S’more beliefs. So be forewarned, I fear I may come off a tad pretentious in this post.

S’mores are seriously delicious and should be approached with as much culinary mastery as you can muster in the woods. Making a stellar S’more comes down to perfecting two things:  your chocolate choice and marshmallow roasting technique.

Chocolate Choice 

Be it bitter sweet or true blue milk, the key is to find a quality chocolate that has the perfect thickness – or should I say thinness. The chocolate needs to be thin enough to be able to melt under the fleeting heat of a marshmallow. I swear by bite-sized chocolate squares(like these from Endangered Species Chocolate).

Marshmallow Roasting

Repeat after me, “coals are key.” Unlike flames, coals slowly heat the marshmallow from the inside out, producing a hot gooey center under a toasty brown crust. For the love of the great outdoors, do not set deliberately set your marshmallow ablaze over the flames of the fire! As kids, we all experienced this camping faux pas, blew out the flame and ate the evidence. People that claim to love the taste of charred marshmallow, in my opinion, are confusing good taste with childhood nostalgia.

See, told you I would come across a tad persnickety. But surely there are others out there that hold strong opinions (aka love) for the S’more. I implore you – comment below and share your S’more techniques. Show my husband and child that I am not the only one that can kill a campfire kum ba yah vibe when S’mores aren’t taken seriously!

For ideas on dressing up your S’mores, throwing a S’more party and more, visit Endangered Species Chocolate’s S’mores photo albumon Facebook.

Oct
10

Status Update

Hypnotizing isn’t he?  Meet the Siau Island tarsier, the newest animal species to be designated as critically endangered on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species.  Inhabiting a small Indonesian island, this saucer-eyed primate has to keep its eyes on two big threats – an active volcano that could wipe our its habitat at any moment and islanders that have a keen taste for tarsiers (locals regularly serve “tola-tola” as a popular snack).  The Siau Island tarsier’s critically endangered status sounds an alarm…calling attention to the possibility to its imminent demise.

The world’s most comprehensive inventory of plant and animal conservation status, the Red List classifies species into seven categories, ranging from “least concern” to “extinct.”  As you can imagine there is a plethora of scientific data that goes into carefully  defining these categories – we’re talking endless pages of graphs, charts and confusing jargon.  Here’s my simple, layman’s language interpretation* of IUCN’s species categories.

*my status descriptions are in no way endorsed or approved by the smart volunteer force at IUCN. IUCN’s categories and criteria specs can be read in detail here.

LEAST CONCERN (LC) | Species in this category are widespread and abundant.  Let’s continue to take good care of these guys, everyone!

NEAR THREATENED (NT) | Watch out! Plant and animals included in this category are close to qualifying for a threatened category in the near future.

VULNERABLE (VU) | An observed or suspected population reduction means this species needs extreme care and support to protect it from becoming endangered.  Being vulnerable isn’t a good feeling, is it?

ENDANGERED (EN) | Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.  It is time to muster up compassion and action RIGHT NOW to save these species!

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR) | A species’ numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations.

EXTINCT IN THE WILD (EW) | Sadly, these species can only be found in captivity or naturalized populations outside their natural range.

EXTINCT (EX) | No longer in existence.  Gone.  Forever.

Oct
3

Swap This Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner.  Time to start thinking about costumes!  Instead of buying, consider a more eek-o-minded approach.  Saturday, October 8th is National Costume Swap Day™ – a planet friendly way to get kids recycling in the funniest way possible – trading (reusing) princess gowns, witch’s hats and superhero capes!

Costume swaps or making your own costumes from materials you have on hand means less resources, less packaging and less waste.  Wrap your mind around this fact: swapping (aka reusing) just half the costumes kids wear at Halloween would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons!  It also means you can be original and decide exactly what you want to be for Halloween.  Imagine trying to find a tornado costume at a big box store!

DIY Tornado Costume

  • black t-shirt and pants
  • masking tape
  • assorted small tornado victims (leaves, toy tractor, barnyard animal figures)

Wrap masking tape up one pant leg (crinkle tape a bit for authentic tornado texture!). Repeat with t-shirt, wrapping tape in a spiral up to neck.  Tie assorted toys and figures to short bits of fishing line.  Tie fishing lined tornado victims to random spots on t-shirt and pants. Muss up child’s hair and brush a bit of dusty brown eyeshadow across face to complete the transformation!

Swaps can be as simple as getting together with a few neighbors or as large as a citywide event; check Costume Swap’s site to find local swaps you can attend.  No matter the size of your event, a costume swap is the perfect way to save the resources it takes to create new costumes.  Plus, trading costumes saves you money!  Check out this incredibly cute video; twin brothers, Tristin and Tyler, show you how it’s done.

Find more ways to green up your holiday at Green Halloween®.