Category Archives: Health and nutrition

Regrained Chocolate Stout SuperGrain Bar – “EAT BEER”

Regrained edit IMG_9667

From beer comes food

The crew over at Regrained has done something unexpected and amazing:  up-cycling brewery grains to make snack bars.  Right.  They run off with the grains that are left after brewing beer and use them as a base for food.  It works like this: fermentation of beer consumes most of the sugars in the mash, but leaves behind plenty of good stuff like protein, fiber and micro-nutrients.  Regrained’s patent-pending process uses what’s left to make satisfying snack bars.

Great story, but how do they taste?  They make three flavors now and I’ve honed in on the Chocolate Coffee Stout bar for obvious reasons.  This review won’t follow the usual format exactly since these are not solid chocolate bars.  Still, I thought you guys should know about this food innovation.

AROMA: There’s a lot going on here.  Peel open the end of the package and sniff.  Wow.  It’s like having a picnic in tall grass with a friend drinking sangria, another else having squash soup and another person smoking a cigarette off in the field.  Never had a picnic like that?  That’s the point – these are not like any common snack bar from the supermarket.  Notes: malt, tomato, strawberry, beer, pumpkin, tobacco, brandy.

MIDDLE TASTE: More chocolate and coffee than stout, but you get this sudden

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There’s a multitude of flavors in these little bars

brewery taste about three-fourths of the way through.  It’s a really interesting mix of flavors with just enough sugar to balance out the slight bitterness of coffee and grain.

FINISH:  Finally you arrive at breakfast cereal, my go-to comfort food.

TEXTURE:  It’s chewy, but in a satisfying way.  You don’t need to work so hard that your jaw aches because the bars are thin.  Even better, they don’t fall apart and sprinkle crumbs into your lap.  I take these bars when I travel because I usually can’t make it to the food service on long-haul flights before I get hungry.  What I hate is a bar that crumbles all over my shirt so I walk off the plane looking like I’ve been swimming in a box of Cracker Jacks.  The Regrained bars don’t have such messy problems.

LAST BITE:  Thumbs up.  I eat a ton of snack bars – two to three per day – because I have a hyperactive metabolism and need to even out my blood sugar so I can do important stuff like, um,  thinking.   This is not the only bar I eat, but it allows me to add some variety into the mix along with the bars I buy from Trader Joe’s.  I like that they taste completely different than the other more sugar-heavy bars and that they are more compact and portable.  I also like that they are up-cycling good food, using sustainable packaging and are members of 1% for the Planet.  Regrained SuperGrain Bars are available online at the Regrained website and limited retailers around the US.

Notes:

[1] Disclosure – I hold a tiny equity stake in this company.

[2] Cracker Jack is a trademark of Frito-Lay North American, Inc.

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How Much Caffeine is in Chocolate?

Coffee and Chocolate

Chocolate or coffee, which has more caffeine?

Chocolate contains hundreds of chemical compounds including polyphenols, powerful antioxidants thought to stave off cancer and heart disease, as well as psychoactive compounds such as theobromine, theophylline,  and caffeine.  Theobromine and theophyliline are mild stimulants that are also partly responsible for that familiar and welcome chocolate buzz.  We all know caffeine as the stimulant found in coffee that brings us clarity and energy in the morning, but how much caffeine is in chocolate compared to drinks like coffee, tea or cola?

Let’s cut to the chase right now – chocolate doesn’t contain much caffeine.  Of course, the actual amount of caffeine you get depends upon factors such as the percent cacao (cocoa), where the beans were grown, how they were processed after harvest and how much you consume as a “typical” serving.  What’s a typical serving of chocolate? That’s up to you, but for high quality dark chocolate, you need much less to feel satisfied, so I’d say 20 grams at most which is a little less than half a small bar or 1/4 of a large one.  With that in mind, here are a few facts about caffeine in chocolate:

CHOCOLATE CAFFEINE PER SERVING SERVING SIZE
Milk Chocolate (junk) 4 mg 20 g
Milk Chocolate 45% Cacao 16 mg 20 g
Dark Chocolate 60% Cacao 24 mg 20 g
Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao 28 mg 20 g
Hot Chocolate (typical) 9 mg 8 oz.
Hot Chocolate – Rich 24 mg 8 oz. (made with 15g of 80% cocoa)

Unless you are monitoring your daily caffeine intake for medical reasons, there is no reason to get too caught up in the numbers.  The numbers don’t say much unless you compare them to something familiar, so here are some facts for common beverages:

BEVERAGE CAFFEINE PER SERVING SERVING SIZE
Brewed Coffee 140 mg 8 oz.
Single Shot Espresso 63 mg 1 oz.
Decaf Coffee 9 mg 8 oz.
Black Tea 65 mg 6 oz.
Green Tea 28mg 6 oz.
Coke Classic 35 mg 12 oz.
Red Bull 78 mg 250 mL

You may be surprised to see that a shot of espresso has less caffeine than a cup of brewed coffee despite its reputation as a sort of rocket fuel for the weary.  Actually, because the water is in contact with the espresso beans for only a short time, it does not fully extract the caffeine, but pulls out all the best coffee flavors and aromas into your cup.  So where does chocolate stand next to that little cup of espresso?  To get as much caffeine as a single shot of espresso, you would need to eat about three servings of 60% dark chocolate or 4 servings of quality milk chocolate.  On the other hand, to match the caffeine kick of a cup of coffee, you’d need to down 2 entire dark chocolate bars, 3 milk chocolate bars or 6 cups of hot cocoa.

Most people shouldn’t worry one bit about the small about of caffeine in chocolate.  If you’re worried that eating chocolate at night is going to keep you awake, don’t.  Don’t worry, that is.  Like most other good things in life, chocolate is best enjoyed in moderation and moderate amounts of chocolate are not going to affect most people.  But don’t come away from this thinking that milk chocolate is the best choice since it has less caffeine!  Eat milk chocolate if that’s what you like most, but generally speaking, dark chocolate will have more of all the healthy compounds that we seek from plant-based super foods like blueberries and grape juice, not to mention, more satisfying chocolate flavor.  So, rest well knowing you are choosing a healthy artisan food.

References and Notes:

[1] The data are averages from multiple sources.

[2] Goldberger BA, Lessig MC, McCusker RR, Cone EJ, Gold MS. Evaluation of Current Caffeine Content of Coffee Beverages: Recommendations for Clinicians Regarding Caffeine Exposure. Society of Biological Psychiatry’s Annual Convention and Scientific Program 2003. San Francisco, California.

[3] Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211

[4] Wikipedia on Caffeine

[5] Center for Science in the Public Interest

[6] Amano Chocolate Blog

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