When I have chosen to or had to taper off on my running miles for one reason or another, my chocolate cravings increase as do my cravings for jalapeños. I am not a nutritionist, just a lover of food, but I am guessing that both of those foods elicit some sort of chemical reaction within my brain that either simulate or release endorphins. Incidentally, I also eat more of these two foods while my husband is deployed. Someone needs to start a spicy chocolate running club through MWR one of these days. I guarantee it would be a success.
God bless my parents for feeding us and teaching us how to cook for ourselves, but we ate a lot of mild foods growing up. All of my siblings are pretty good cooks and definitely have a love of food, but my folks were not spicy food eaters. Just picture many whole and delicious Norwegian and Irish foods. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as chocolate mixed with cayenne pepper or cinnamon until about five years ago, when I had my first taste of the magical Spicy Maya Chocolate Bar from Chuao Chocolatier. Huh. The Mayans, who knew? Soon after, I introduced my mouth to the Lindt Cherry and Chili Chocolate Bar and the Dagoba Xocolatl Bar. I am now on the hunt for some good spicy chocolate recipes, aside from just putting cayenne pepper in brownies. I have found but have yet to try these chocolate chili almond truffles. However, the fact that the recipe uses corn syrup has me a little hesitant because I spend so much time avoiding corn-based products entirely.
As far as the tried and true go, The Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet, published for Sur la table, was a wonderful gift given to me years ago by the Curly Blonde. While it does not list any recipes that involve peppers, it is definitely the bible of baking with chocolate, and I highly recommend anyone who is serious about baking in general take a peek. One of my favorite bloggers, Kate Percy of Go Faster Foods, is a nutritionist and marathoner. She posted this AMAZING chocolate cake recipe last year, and while she does not typically post too many treats, I love her balanced approach to food and life (and chocolate) from an endurance athlete's perspective.
This week, aside from experimenting with chocolate chili almond truffles and dreaming of a future trip to the Mayan ruins, I am designing a new cross-training regime involving a tad more yoga, a few dashes of extra squats and lunges, and the rarest ingredient of all, bench pushups (more than 5). Tapering off on running miles can be a time for building both physical and mental strength and energy reserves for future goals. Endorphins, in the mean time, come in the form of risks and spicy chocolate.