Research On Health Impact of High Cocoa Chocolate

Fifty-eight million pounds! That’s how much chocolate is purchased during the week of Valentine’s Day. We definitely have a love affair with this confection. The question is…does it love us back?

Well, the latest nutritional research has some very good news: Yes, chocolate totally loves us back. Just bear in mind that our true feelings are for the cocoa itself (specifically, its antioxidant catechins and epicatechins) and not for the artificial chocolate flavorings and candies that have little-to-no cocoa. So, if you’ve ever been concerned that your love affair with chocolate is one-sided—don’t worry. Here are the top four reasons chocolate loves you as much as you love it:

1. Chocolate will rev up your metabolism.

The consumption of cocoa encourages blood vessels to branch into cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue, which brings an influx of oxygen and nutrients. This increases the metabolism because it creates more (and more effective) mitochondria in the muscles, producing extra energy for you.

According to this study, cocoa epicatechins alone produce a 30 percent increase in fatigue resistance and a 30 percent increase in new blood supply. Even better, the increase in energy that you get from combining it with exercise amounts to a 50 percent energy boost.

So how long will it take for these changes to occur? It took two weeks for experimental animals to see a 30 percent increase in fatigue resistance. In a separate study, it took four weeks to see an increase of capillaries and mitochondria appear in the muscle tissue. So remember that consistent cocoa consumption is key, and chocolate can be your vehicle for that intake.

 

I doubt it surprises anyone that chocolate can light up your brain’s pleasure centers like a Christmas tree. But in addition to the short-term spritz of mood-boosting dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, the psychoactive pleasure-palooza you get from cocoa can reduce measures of stress and anxiety. This 2010 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that daily consumption of cocoa polyphenols for 30 days produced a 10 percent reduction in anxiety and a 10 percent improvement in measures of calmness. Given this, it’s not surprising that the subjects also reported less depression.

It’s important to note that improvements in emotional state only occur from sustained moderate levels of cocoa. You (unfortunately) can’t shortcut this by eating a lot all at once, because cocoa volume is not as important as consistency.

3. Your heart will thank you for your chocolate addiction.

It may be surprising to hear that high-cocoa chocolate is heart healthy because of its saturated fat content. But it turns out that like many evil villains, it’s just misunderstood. One-third of the cocoa-derived fats are composed of stearic acid, which doesn’t raise your bad cholesterol at all. Moreover, your liver converts it into heart-healthy oleic acid.

The consumption of cocoa fats can, in fact, raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). Even better, the antioxidants in cocoa help fight the chronic vascular inflammation that often leads to atherosclerosis. All this may be why researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that people who ate more high-cocoa chocolate have fewer incidents of heart disease. Another meta-analysis of 114,009 participants showed that the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in strokes.

This Australian study argues that eating 100 grams of dark chocolate per day is a more cost-effective solution than traditional medication and could save people’s lives. How popular would doctors be if they prescribed dark chocolate?

4. Chocolate will make your arteries happy.

So cocoa increases blood supply to your heart, increases good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol, and it also has an impact on the arteries that carry blood through the body, which determine your blood pressure.

A study of randomized control trials found that ingesting cocoa epicatechins (about 50 grams of 70 percent cocoa chocolate daily) reduces blood pressure by approximately 4.6 points for systolic and 2.1 points for diastolic. Why? It’s likely because consistent cocoa consumption increases the flexibility of your blood vessels. It makes them more elastic, so they can stretch (and not break) in response to high blood pressure spikes.

Again, the more consistently it is consumed, the greater the effect. After three days, the arterial elasticity was improved by approximately 40 percent. By day five, it was up to 65 percent. After one week, it had improved by 70 percent! This kind of high cocoa infusion is reversible, however. When it was withdrawn for a week, the arteries’ stretchiness started returning back to baseline.

From your heart to your head, from your muscles to your metabolism—your love of chocolate is totally returned. And by choosing high-cocoa chocolates and consistently having some every day, you can nurture this loving relationship. Win-win!

Parmesan Polenta

Polenta is served in various parts of the Mediterranean. Some great things about this recipe are that it does not take a lot of ingredients and the ingredients are very basic. They come together to form quite a spectacular  dish! Enjoy.

You’ll Need

  • 9 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

  • Bring chicken broth to boil in heavy large saucepan.
  • Reduce heat to medium.
  • Gradually whisk in corn meal. Cook until cornmeal is very soft and mixture is thick and creamy, whisking occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese, onion powder and butter.
  • Season polenta to taste with salt and pepper.

 

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Spiced up Grits

A perfect side dish to complement a variety of meals

You’ll Need

  • ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, sliced
  • 2 Serrano chilies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup white hominy quick grits
  • 1 ½ cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

Directions

  • In a skillet melt butter and saute the bell pepper, onions, and chilies until the pepper is tender.
  • In a large saucepan heat the milk, water, salt and pepper to boiling.
  • Gradually add the grits, stirring constantly, and reduce the heat when they have all been added.
  • Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until thick, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the bell pepper mixture and cheese.

Haley’s Comet Is Making My Cat Creaky, and Other Observations

When health pieces come out that seem too weird to be right, they probably are.

The article (pulled in below for your reading pleasure) makes the point, and I’ll chat about it in this video. 

 

ARTICLE FROM WP:

Trying to lose weight? The colder months might be the perfect time.

Freezing temps are no excuse to give up on fitness. As it turns out, you might stand a better chance of losing weight when it’s cold.
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that people actively trying to shed pounds had the best results when the temperature dropped. The more inhospitable the weather, the more conscientious people became about keeping track of their meals and calories.“Climate-related factors can directly change a person’s behavior, and these factors can have a certain impact on intentional efforts to lose weight,” said Sang Youl Rhee, who led the research team at Kyung Hee University Medical Center in Seoul. “In addition, various climatic factors can lead to a significant change in the level of energy expenditure in the body.”

Researchers tracked the weight loss of 3,274 people under 42 throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia with Noom Coach, a fitness app that can pinpoint the location of users. They then used a meteorology service, called Weather Underground API, to monitor conditions, and discovered that colder temperatures and lower dew points as well as higher wind speed and precipitation were all linked to the app users’ weight loss.

On average, people logged into Noom 110 days during the year-long study, or roughly every three days. Men tended to use the app more frequently than women and were more likely to lose weight. People who logged their meals regularly, especially dinner, lost the most weight.

 “During the weight-loss journey, it’s important to focus on changing the underlying behaviors that lead to obesity,” said Rhee, an endocrinologist. “Those who continue logging food and have an awareness around what they are eating will be most successful in losing weight.”

Chronicling meals, physical activity and weight have been proven in previous studies to be effective ways to lose weight. A Kaiser Permanente study of 1,700 people found that those who kept a daily account of what they ate lost twice as much weight as those who kept no record.

Noom, which launched in 2012, lets users choose from a variety of courses, ranging from 16 to 22 weeks, designed to prevent or manage chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Courses are created by physicians and come with a coach to guide users through the process. One week might be dedicated to understanding triggers to unhealthy foods you’re eating while another focuses on getting you to try a variety of veggies.

“It’s a cognitive behavior-based program, meaning you’re trying to understand what makes you have certain habits and behaviors and change your thinking around those behaviors and habits,” said Artem Petakov, president and co-founder of Noom. “There are different exercises to make you more mindful and more likely to problem-solve around those areas.”

Petakov said Noom has worked with other researchers, including a team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, on wellness studies. In this case, the team at Kyung Hee approached the company, which has 45 million users worldwide, to get a diverse collection of anonymous data.

The study did not take exercise into account, but Petakov said that’s not necessarily a shortcoming.

“The popular notion is that physical activity is the key to achieving weight loss, but the truth is it’s more about nutrition,” Petakov said. “When it’s colder, you have more time to focus on the nutrition aspects, cooking more for example, and just have more time to dedicate to it without as many distractions as far as going outside.”

 

Zucchini Pancakes


Eat like a Mediterranean and start off with these being your first course.

You’ll Need

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Olive oil 

 

Directions

 

  • In a bowl mix all ingredients except olive oil together.
  • In a frying pan, on medium, heat enough oil to cover bottom of pan. Once oil is heated add tablespoons of batter to pan. Brown on both sides.

 

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About those e-cigs

Choice between cigarette and e-cigarette

Don’t be misled by article just came out this morning in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Study of cancer-causing toxins finds e-cigarettes much safer than smoking

This can lead one to think that e-cigs are a healthy alternative. And at first, it’s a bit of a no brainer. Let’s say you stop breathing in tar and benzine and formaldehyde and all the other Acme Jr Chemistry set of tobacco toxicity into your body.

But anything you do is healthier than that. It’s really hard to image the conditions that would not be better for your body. So yes, e-cigs are within the infinite set of things that are also better for you than the cancer delivery device of cigarettes.

By the way, the report wasn’t just about e-cigs, but also showing that if you applied the patch or chewed the nicotine gum you’d also have less of the toxins that you’re no longer breathing in. Again, no kidding.

In essence, they made the conclusions out to be a bit different than they warrant. Are e-cigs better than breathing in terrible chemicals into your body every day? Yeah, but so is the gum and the patch and buttermilk cornbread.

It’s like doing a study to conclude that “Reading a book is better for your brain than banging your head against a brick wall until unconscious.” The issue about the book is neither here nor there. Everything is better for you than banging your head against a wall until unconscious.

So here’s the point. This article will make many think that it’s healthy. But it’s not a healthy alternative at all, just a healthier alternative. Words matter.

February is the Month For Heart Health

Below is an excellent review by the Harvard School of Public Health for how to reduce your risk of heart problems.

When heart experts talk about prevention, they usually refer to one of three types: secondary, primary and primordial prevention. [1] All three have similar elements, but different starting times and different effects.

  1. Secondary prevention. These efforts are started after someone has a heart attack or stroke, undergoes angioplasty or bypass surgery, or develops some other form of heart disease. It involves taking medications like aspirin and/or a cholesterol-lowering statin, quitting smoking and losing weight if needed, exercising more, and following a healthy diet. Although secondary prevention may sound like “closing the barn door after the horse has gone,” it isn’t. These steps can prevent a second heart attack or stroke, halt the progression of heart disease, and prevent early death. It may be obvious, but the number one killer of individuals who survive a first heart attack is a second heart attack.
  2. Primary prevention. Primary prevention aims to keep an individual at risk of heart disease from having a first heart attack or stroke, needing angioplasty or surgery, or developing some other form of heart disease. Primary prevention is usually aimed at people who already have developed cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. As with secondary prevention, primary prevention focuses on controlling these risk factors by making healthy lifestyle changes and, if needed, taking medications. That said, the appearance of worrisome cardiovascular risk factors means that inflammation, atherosclerosis, and/or endothelial dysfunction are already at work and, in most cases, aren’t reversible.
  3. Primordial prevention. The word “primordial” means existing from the beginning. Primordial prevention involves working to prevent inflammation, atherosclerosis, and endothelial dysfunction from taking hold, and thus prevent risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight, and ultimately cardiovascular events. Once rarely discussed, primordial prevention is now the cornerstone of the American Heart Association’s definition of ideal heart health and efforts to help people achieve it. [1] As its name implies, the sooner you can start practicing primordial prevention—ideally from childhood on—the more likely you are to achieve it and protect yourself from heart disease.

Steps for the primordial prevention of heart disease

Four key choices can dramatically reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular risk factors and ultimately heart disease. All four are important. Below, each choice is listed in order of significance to heart health, along with ways to put each into practice.

1. Not smoking

breaking the cigarette to represent quitting smokingOne of the best things you can do for your health is to not use tobacco in any form. Tobacco use is a hard-to-break habit that can slow you down, make you sick, and shorten your life. One way it does this is by contributing to heart disease.

In fact, researchers examining the relationship between cigarette smoking and smoking cessation on mortality during a decades-long perspective study of over 100,000 women found that approximately 64% of deaths among current smokers and 28% of deaths among former smokers were attributable to cigarette smoking. [2]

  • This study also reported that much of the excess risk due to smoking may be drastically lowered after quitting. Additionally, the excess risk for all-cause mortality—that is, death from any cause—decreases to the level of a “never-smoker” 20 years after quitting.

The nicotine that tobacco products deliver is one of the most addictive substances around. That makes tobacco use one of the toughest unhealthy habits to break. But don’t get discouraged; many smokers do quit! In fact, in the United States today there are more ex-smokers than smokers. [3] Learn more about the hazards of smoking, the benefits of quitting, and tips for quitting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. Maintaining a healthy weight

body weight scaleExcess weight and an extra-large waist size both contribute to heart disease, as well as a host of other health problems. [4-6]

In a study of over one million women, body-mass index (BMI) was a strong risk factor for coronary heart disease. The incidence of coronary heart disease increases progressively with BMI. [7]

In the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, middle-aged women and men who gained 11 to 22 pounds after age 20 were up to three times more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and gallstones than those who gained five pounds or fewer.

  • Those who gained more than 22 pounds had an even greater risk of developing these diseases. [4,8-11]

Weight and height go hand-in-hand. The taller you are, the more you weigh. That’s why researchers have devised several measures that account for both weight and height. The one most commonly used is BMI.

  • You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared (kg/m2). You can also use an online BMI calculator or BMI table.
  • A healthy BMI is under 25 kg/m2. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/m2, and obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 kg/m2
  • Waist size matters, too. In people who are not overweight, waist size may be an even more telling warning sign of increased health risks than BMI. [12] An expert panel convened by the National Institutes of Health identified these useful benchmarks: Men should aim for a waist size below 40 inches (102 cm) and women should aim for a waist size below 35 inches (88 cm). [13]

3. Exercising

Exercise and physical activity are excellent ways to prevent heart disease and many other diseases and conditions, [14-16] but many of us get less activity as we get older.

  • Getting regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. It lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, and it can also help control stress, improve sleep, boost mood, keep weight in check, and reduce the risk of falling and improve cognitive function in older adults.
  • It doesn’t take marathon training to see real health gains. A 30-minute brisk walk five days of the week will provide important benefits for most people. Getting any amount of exercise is better than none.
  • Exercise and physical activity benefit the body, while a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite—increasing the chances of becoming overweight and developing a number of chronic diseases.
  • Research shows that people who spend more time each day watching television, sitting, or riding in cars have a greater chance of dying early than people who are more active. [17-19] A 2013 study showed that, among women ages 50-79 with no cardiovascular disease at the start of study, prolonged sitting time was associated with increased heart disease risk regardless of the amount of time spent in leisure-time physical activity. [16]

4. Following a healthy diet

Harvard Healthy Eating PlateFor years, research into connections between diet and heart disease focused on individual nutrients like cholesterol, types of fats, and specific vitamins and minerals. This work has been revealing, but it has also generated some dead ends, along with myths and confusion about what constitutes a heart-healthy diet. That’s because people eat food, not nutrients.

  • The best diet for preventing heart disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils; includes alcohol in moderation, if at all; and goes easy on red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium, and foods with trans fat.
  • People with diets consistent with this dietary pattern had a 31% lower risk of heart disease, a 33% lower risk of diabetes, and a 20% lower risk of stroke. [20]
  • A randomized controlled trial found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, both rich sources of unsaturated fat, reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events amongst patients with cardiovascular disease over a 4.8-year follow-up period.
    • This study highlighted that low-fat diets are not beneficial to heart health, and that incorporating healthy fats – such as those included in the Mediterranean diet –  can improve heart health and weight loss.
    • There isn’t one exact Mediterranean diet, as this eating style takes into account the different foods, eating patterns, and lifestyles in multiple countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. However, there are similarities that define a Mediterranean eating pattern, and as described by this study  the traditional Mediterranean diet includes:

– High intake of olive oil, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and cereals

– Moderate intake of fish and poultry

– Low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets

–  Wine in moderation, consumed with meals [26]

Putting it all together

You can help prevent heart disease by doing four key things and making them into habits:

  1. Don’t smoke (or quit if you do)
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Exercise; be active
  4. Follow a healthy diet

Strong studies make it possible to link reductions in risk to these habits. Following a healthy lifestyle may prevent over 80% of cases of coronary artery disease, [21,22] 50% of ischemic strokes, [23] 80% of sudden cardiac deaths, [24] and 72% of premature deaths related to heart disease. [25] In other words, a healthy lifestyle is a good investment in a longer, healthier life.


References

  1. Lloyd-Jones DM, Hong Y, Labarthe D, et al. Defining and setting national goals for cardiovascular health promotion and disease reduction: the American Heart Association’s strategic Impact Goal through 2020 and beyond. Circulation. 2010;121:586-613.
  2. Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Rosner BA, Colditz GA. Smoking and smoking cessation in relation to mortality in women. JAMA. 2008;299:2037-47.
  3. Babb S, Malarcher A, Schauer G, Asman K, Jamal A. Quitting Smoking Among Adults – United States, 2000-2015. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. 2017;65:1457-64.
  4. Willett WC, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, et al. Weight, weight change, and coronary heart disease in women. Risk within the ‘normal’ weight range. JAMA1995;273:461-5.
  5. Bogers RP, Bemelmans WJ, Hoogenveen RT, et al. Association of overweight with increased risk of coronary heart disease partly independent of blood pressure and cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of 21 cohort studies including more than 300 000 persons. Archives of internal medicine. 2007;167:1720-8.
  6. Berrington de Gonzalez A, Hartge P, Cerhan JR, et al. Body-mass index and mortality among 1.46 million white adults. N Engl J Med. 2010;363:2211-9.
  7. Canoy D, Cairns BJ, Balkwill A, et al. Body mass index and incident coronary heart disease in women: a population-based prospective study. BMC Med. 2013;11:87.
  8. Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, et al. Body size and fat distribution as predictors of coronary heart disease among middle-aged and older US men. American journal of epidemiology. 1995;141:1117-27.
  9. Colditz GA, Willett WC, Rotnitzky A, Manson JE. Weight gain as a risk factor for clinical diabetes mellitus in women. Ann Intern Med. 1995;122:481-6.
  10. Huang Z, Willett WC, Manson JE, et al. Body weight, weight change, and risk for hypertension in women. Ann Intern Med. 1998;128:81-8.
  11. Maclure KM, Hayes KC, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Speizer FE, Willett WC. Weight, diet, and the risk of symptomatic gallstones in middle-aged women. N Engl J Med. 1989;321:563-9.
  12. Zhang C, Rexrode KM, van Dam RM, Li TY, Hu FB. Abdominal obesity and the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: sixteen years of follow-up in US women. Circulation. 2008;117:1658-67.
  13. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: the evidence report. Bethesda, MD; 1998.
  14. Ford ES, Caspersen CJ. Sedentary behaviour and cardiovascular disease: a review of prospective studies. International journal of epidemiology. 2012;41:1338-53.
  15. Matthews CE, George SM, Moore SC, et al. Amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors and cause-specific mortality in US adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2012;95:437-45.
  16. Chomistek AK, Manson JE, Stefanick ML, et al. Relationship of sedentary behavior and physical activity to incident cardiovascular disease: results from the Women’s Health Initiative. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2013;61:2346-54.
  17. Dunstan DW, Barr EL, Healy GN, et al. Television viewing time and mortality: the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation. 2010;121:384-91.
  18. Patel AV, Bernstein L, Deka A, et al. Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. American journal of epidemiology. 2010;172:419-29.
  19. Warren TY, Barry V, Hooker SP, Sui X, Church TS, Blair SN. Sedentary behaviors increase risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42:879-85.
  20. Chiuve SE, Fung TT, Rimm EB, et al. Alternative dietary indices both strongly predict risk of chronic disease. The Journal of nutrition. 2012;142:1009-18.
  21. Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Willett WC. Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med. 2000;343:16-22.
  22. Chiuve SE, McCullough ML, Sacks FM, Rimm EB. Healthy lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease among men: benefits among users and nonusers of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications. Circulation. 2006;114:160-7.
  23. Chiuve SE, Rexrode KM, D. S, Logroscino G, Manson JE, Rimm EB. Primary prevention of stroke by healthy lifestyle. Circulation. 2008;118:947-54.
  24. Chiuve SE, Fung TT, Rexrode KM, et al. Adherence to a low-risk, healthy lifestyle and risk of sudden cardiac death among women. JAMA2011;306:62-9.
  25. van Dam RM, Li T, Spiegelman D, Franco OH, Hu FB. Combined impact of lifestyle factors on mortality: prospective cohort study in US women. BMJ. 2008;337:a1440.
  26. Estruch, R., et al., Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Engl J Med, 2013. 368(14): p. 1279-90.

Tortellini Soup

This Mediterranean inspired recipe is so easy to make and will easily become a staple in your kitchen. It can easily be made in bulk so invite the friends and family over.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1, 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 29 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 14.5 ounce can of diced tomato or 1 fresh tomato, diced
  • 9 ounces of packaged of tortellini of choice
  • ½ Tablespoon dried basil
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Directions:

  • In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Slightly lower heat. Add crushed red pepper to your liking, the onion and garlic sauté until garlic is infused (approximately 5 minutes).
  • Next add the spinach, tomato and broth.
  • Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to low.
  • Stir in tortellini, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tortellini is cooked to desired tenderness.
  • Season with the basil, salt and pepper.
  • If you would like you can serve topped with some freshly grated Parmesan, or Romano cheese.

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