Chocolate Traditions New and Old

Last Sunday's FIT+ Health and Fitness Festival in Harbor East was alive with music, movement, and many samples of delicious dark chocolate at the Institute for Integrative Health booth. The antioxidant-rich confections were prizes for taking our famed Chocolate Challenge, an interactive quiz on which kinds of chocolate are healthful (in reasonable amounts) and which are simply candy.


Baltimore's Sherry Crawford, who attended FIT+ with her family, delighted us with stories of her grandmother, who knew the health benefits of the cocoa bean and put it in nearly every dish she prepared. This remarkable woman was born in 1903, on a ship bound from India to the Caribbean, bearing indentured servants to work on the plantations of the West Indies.

Growing up in rural Trinidad, Sherry observed her grandmother removing the beans (seeds actually) from freshly harvested cocoa pods and processing them by hand: fermenting and laying them out in the sun to dry, roasting, and ultimately grinding them.


Sherry (above) went on to tell us about her grandmother’s knowledge of traditional Indian herbs and spices, which were used both for flavor and for health. Her family ate turmeric—now known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties—with every meal.

Sherry graciously shared with us her family’s traditional recipe for dal, a much loved, extremely healthy beverage. You may be familiar with dal as a side dish in Indian restaurants. Sherry describes this dal as having the consistency of a smoothie.

Sherry’s Grandmother’s Dal
1⁄4 pound yellow split peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. turmeric
salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Boil the split peas in water until soft. Stir. Add more liquid, if needed.

Many thanks to Sherry for the recipe and wonderful stories of her grandmother!

What healthful traditions does your family have?