15 Surprisingly Delicious Ways to Use Chocolate Chips

iStock.com/bhofack2
iStock.com/bhofack2

We all know about the chocolate chip cookie—it’s been a bake sale standard since the 1940s. But there’s more you can do with chocolate chips than dump them in a bowl of plain batter and let them bake for 10 minutes or until crispy. On National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15th), show your appreciation for the tasty morsels in one of these creative ways.

1. Add chocolate chips to your chili.

No one said chocolate chips have to be relegated to dessert. There are chili recipes that call for semisweet chips mixed with beef, spices, vegetables, and Mexican beer.

2. Spread it on your face.

Some face masks call for liquefied dark chocolate—easy enough to make by melting down chocolate chips in the microwave—and are sometimes mixed with olive oil and/or egg yolk. Others involve blending the chocolate with different fruits like apples, bananas, and watermelon. Once the mask is ready, apply it for 15-20 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.

3. Sprinkle them over apples.

For a sweet alternative to nachos, you can cover apple slices with peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella, caramel, or your other favorite sweet spread, then sprinkle them with almonds, chocolate chips, and/or coconut. It’s an easy, delicious dessert.

4. Spell out words on cakes.

If frosting isn’t your thing but you still want to write “Congratulations!” on a cake, use mini chocolate chips to form the letters. Placing each one may be a bit time consuming, but the results will be appreciated.

5. Use it as body paint.

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. Melt down chocolate chips then draw mustaches and beards on yourself and your friends. You’ll have the best selfies on the Internet. (Some recipes suggest adding a bit of alcohol.)

6. Make a natural hair treatment.

To make your hair extra silky, mix melted dark chocolate chips with water and apply it to your hair before showering. Rinse it off before you lather in the shampoo. For a fancier, fruitier version, mix melted dark chocolate chips, honey, and mashed banana. After letting it sit in your towel-wrapped hair for an hour, rinse it off and then wash your hair as you would normally.

7. Create a chocolate slide.

With enough melted chocolate chips, you can cover a giant tarp and make a super messy version of a water slide. It’ll need frequent refreshing, but on a hot enough day, you won’t have to worry about it cooling and getting crusty.

8. Include them in trail mix.

Any snack mix could benefit from the addition of a bit of chocolate chip sweetness. Add them to granola, dried fruit, and nuts and bag it to make an ideal on-the-go energy boost.

9. Kick your pudding pops up a notch.

Scoop a mix of cheesecake pudding, crushed wafer cookies, graham crackers, and chocolate chips into small paper bathroom cups. Then, stick a popsicle stick through the bottom and freeze until solid. Rip off the paper and enjoy!

10. Try chocolate kale cookies.

Kale and chocolate may not seem like an appetizing combination, but if the kale is hidden beneath the taste of cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sugar, vanilla, butter, and applesauce in thick cookie dough, even the kids won’t notice.

11. Blend into a smoothie.

Make a mouthwatering tropical smoothie with coconut milk, semisweet chocolate chips, yogurt, bananas, vanilla, and ice. All you have to do is throw them into the blender and let it spin until the texture’s to your liking.

12. Make matcha and white chocolate chip cookies.

Matcha (a powder derived from green tea leaves) meets its match in these white chocolate chip cookies. The batter is made from other easy to find ingredients like brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, baking soda, flour, unsalted butter, and salt, and has a total prep time of about 25 minutes.

13. Fondue everything!

To be extra fancy, melt down chocolate chips and pour the liquid into a chocolate fountain. Once that’s good and flowing, dip strawberries, bananas, pretzels, graham crackers, pineapple, and marshmallows into the chocolate. Just make sure you have napkins at the ready—it gets very drippy.

14. Use them as eyes on a snowman.

Tiny snowmen (or women) need tiny eyes. When pieces of coal or buttons just won’t cut it, use chocolate chips to decorate your chilly creature. Be prepared to replace them frequently—chocolate doesn’t last long in the wild. (For a tastier version, make your snowmen out of cupcakes or cookies!)

15. Bake bacon and chocolate chip cookies.

If you’re looking to get more protein from your cookies, consider adding some candied bacon. Make the batter from flour, baking soda, butter, white and brown sugar, vanilla extract, egg, and semisweet chocolate chips. Add in the candied bacon and bake for around 15 minutes.

The Great Tryptophan Lie: Eating Turkey Does Not Make You Tired

H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images

While you’re battling your cousins for the best napping spot after Thanksgiving dinner, feel free to use this as a diversion tactic: It’s a myth that eating turkey makes you tired.

It’s true that turkey contains L-Tryptophan, an amino acid involved in sleep. Your body uses it to produce a B vitamin called niacin, which generates the neurotransmitter serotonin, which yields the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your sleeping patterns. However, plenty of other common foods contain comparable levels of tryptophan, including other poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs.

Furthermore, in order for tryptophan to produce serotonin in your brain, it first has to make it across the blood-brain barrier, which many other amino acids are also trying to do. To give tryptophan a leg up in the competition, it needs the help of carbohydrates. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer tells WebMD that the best way to boost serotonin is to eat a small, all-carbohydrate snack a little while after you’ve eaten something that contains tryptophan, and the carbs will help ferry the tryptophan from your bloodstream to your brain.

But Thanksgiving isn’t exactly about eating small, well-timed snacks. It’s more about heaps of potatoes, mountains of stuffing, and generous globs of gravy—and that, along with alcohol, is more likely the reason you collapse into a spectacular food coma after your meal. Overeating (especially of foods high in fat) means your body has to work extra hard to digest everything. To get the job done, it redirects blood to the digestive system, leaving little energy for anything else. And since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it also slows down your brain and other organs.

In short, you can still hold turkey responsible for your Thanksgiving exhaustion, but you should make sure it knows it can share the blame with the homestyle mac and cheese, spiked apple cider, and second piece of pumpkin pie.

[h/t WebMD]

How Mammoth Poop Gave Us Pumpkin Pie

MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images
MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images

When it’s time to express gratitude for the many privileges bestowed upon your family this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be grateful for mammoth poop. The excrement of this long-extinct species is a big reason why holiday desserts taste so good.

Why? Because, as Smithsonian Insider reports, tens of thousands of years ago, mammoths, elephants, and mastodons had an affinity for wild gourds, the ancestors of squashes and pumpkin. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Smithsonian researcher and colleagues found that wild gourds—which were much smaller than our modern-day butternuts—carried a bitter-tasting toxin in their flesh that acted as a deterrent to some animals. While small rodents would avoid eating the gourds, the huge mammals would not. Their taste buds wouldn't pick up the bitter flavor and the toxin had no effect on them. Mammoths would eat the gourds and pass the indigestible seeds out in their feces. The seeds would then be plopped into whatever habitat range the mammoth was roaming in, complete with fertilizer.

When the mammoths went extinct as recently as 4000 years ago, the gourds faced the same fate—until humans began to domesticate the plants, allowing for the rise of pumpkins. But had it not been for the dispersal of the seeds via mammoth crap, the gourd might not have survived long enough to arrive at our dinner tables.

So as you dig into your pumpkin pie this year, be sure to think of the heaping piles of dung that made the delicious treat possible.

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