What makes chocolate chip cookies so addictive?

(CNN)When I reflect on my childhood baking memories, one that stands out is a tray of warm chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven. It was so tempting to eat the raw dough while making them — talk about a lesson in delayed gratification — but in 20 or so minutes, delicious buttery, sugary cookies dotted with chocolate chips would be ready to enjoy.

Never mind fancy desserts; chocolate chip cookies have always been one of my favorite treats. And if you are like me and find them irresistible, you probably can’t stop after a few bites.
“Even today, after eating and living with them for 40 years, I still can’t stop eating them,” said Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton, New York, and creator of the top-rated chocolate chip cookie according to Consumer Reports. “I am either eating no cookies, or I am eating several. I can’t have one.”
    But what exactly makes chocolate chip cookies so universally craved in the first place?

    The emotional attachment to chocolate chip cookies

    “I think a lot of it has to do with the connection to our past, whether it was a grandmother, a mother, a place visited, a summer home or family time. It’s also usually the first cookie every child learned how to make, and so I think there’s a tremendous emotional attachment and remembrance with the chocolate chip cookie,” King said. “Lifestyles are changing, but that connection is still hanging on.”
    Eating chocolate chip cookies can be associated with a range of emotions. “If I’m celebrating, I can have a couple of cookies, but if I’m sad, I want 10 cookies,” she said. “While the cookie is in your mouth, that moment is happiness — and then it’s gone, and you’re sad again, and you have another one.”
    The happiness that comes from sharing homemade chocolate chip cookies cannot be underestimated. King, who started baking chocolate chip cookies and selling them when she was 11 years old, said her biggest motivator for baking them was the joy they brought other people. “That really made me happy — and probably, a lot of people that bake will say the same thing: Sharing [chocolate chip cookies] makes people happy.”

    Addictive ingredients

    Aside from the emotional comfort that chocolate chip cookies may provide, there may be scientific explanations for why we salivate for them. Some research suggests that ingredients in chocolate chip cookies may have additive properties. Take sugar: Evidence in humans shows that sugar and sweetness can induce rewards and cravings comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs, including cocaine.
    A traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for ¾ cup of granulated sugar and ¾ cup of brown sugar, yielding 10 grams, or 2.5 teaspoons, of sugar per cookie.
    Then there’s the chocolate, which, in addition to sugar, contains small amounts of a compound known as anandamide. Interestingly, anandamide is also a brain chemical that targets the same cell receptors as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for its mood-altering effects. That’s not to say chocolate will produce the same “high” as marijuana, but there may be a chemical basis for the pleasure we get from eating chocolate.
    According to Gary Wenk, director of neuroscience undergraduate programs at the Ohio State University and author of “Your Brain on Food,” high-fat, sugar-rich cookies will raise the level of anandamide in our brains independent of what’s in the cookie, because it’s our body’s response to eating such a tasty item. “The fat and sugar combine to induce our addiction as much as does the anandamide,” Wenk said. “It’s a triple play of delight.”

    Texture and flavor: Key to a cookie’s addictive characteristics

    All of this science may sound intriguing, but the simplest explanation for why chocolate chip cookies are so delectable may have to do with the mix of ingredients that combine in a way that appeals to our senses.
    “A chocolate chip cookie is a brilliant contrast among the flavors and among the textures,” said Gail Vance Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm that helps companies learn how sensory cues drive consumer perceptions of products.
    The flavor of chocolate chip cookies, according to Civille, is “a beautiful amalgam of caramelized butter and sugar,” the result of the browning of butter and caramelizing of sugar while it bakes. The combination of the toasted grain with the browned butter, caramelized sugar, vanilla and chocolate are “the beautiful rich flavors that blend together in a chocolate chip cookie,” she said. And as the chocolate melts, it becomes more aromatic and punches up the flavor.
    It sounds counterintuitive, but salt is important too, even in sweet treats. “It is what adds interest to food, even if it’s a sweet food, because it makes the sugar and other ingredients taste better and come together better,” Civille said. “A pinch of salt in cookies really makes a difference, and it enhances sweetness a little bit.”
    King noted that “with Tate’s, we were the first to do the thin and crisp, which is kind of an addictive mouthfeel, and we were also the first to do a little bit heaver on the salt. People don’t even put salt in cookies, but [without salt], it tastes flat.”
    Other secrets to making delicious chocolate chip cookies include using butter instead of shortening or margarine; brown sugar, which has a molasses-like quality to it; and pure vanilla, according to King. A high-quality flour and a really good chocolate chip are also important.
    The texture of chocolate chip cookies also plays a big role in their appeal. “Just on the texture side, [the chocolate chip cookie] has a lot going for it,” Civille said.
    “Every bite will be interesting. … You will hit the cookie, which has crispness due to air pockets in the cookie crumb, and then the chocolate, which is dense and uniform when you bite through it. It’s like a symphony orchestra playing together. … It’s very harmonious,” she said.
    One of the simplest ways to test whether the flavor and texture of chocolate chip cookies are “addictive enough” is to observe people eating them.
    “When I would create any product, if I put it out as a sample to my staff and if I didn’t watch them unconsciously go back and take some more, then I felt it wasn’t good enough. There’s a lot of good, but I didn’t want good. I wanted that addictive thing,” King said.

    Personal preferences

    Although there are some universally appealing qualities of chocolate chip cookies that make them so addictive, specific preferences may vary from person to person. One may crave chocolate chip cookies that are soft and gooey; another may long for crispy, crunchy cookies.
    Most people prefer semisweet chips, which have a soft melting quality that can lend itself to a more addictive mouthfeel with the crunchy caramelized cookie, according to King. But some may opt for milk chocolate, and others may like the taste of bittersweet chocolate in their cookies.
    The optimal ratio of chocolate chips to cookie is also a personal preference. “I’ll put a bag on the table, and my husband will turn them over and look for the least amount of chips, but I’ll look for the most,” King said.

    A happy indulgence

    Whatever one’s individual chocolate chip cookie preference — or “addiction” — it’s fair to say that these beloved cookies can have a place in a balanced diet, as long as you are willing to keep portions in check.

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    “The main thing is not to think of food as good food and bad food. It’s all good. It’s how much you eat of it,” King said. “I used to be overweight, and I had that in my mind, if I ate a cookie, that was bad and now the day is ruined, instead of just, ‘that’s cool.’ “
    So whether it feels like a true “addiction” or not, indulging in a chocolate chip cookie or two should be a happy experience.

    This Magical Headband Could Help You Sleep Through The Night

    When it comes to quality sleep, it’s not just the hours we spend in bed that count. It’s also about the time we spend in the stages of sleep that actually restore and energize our bodies. 

    The most critical stage, deep sleep, is the one that leaves us feeling refreshed when we wake up. It also helps rebuilds muscle, improves mental reaction time and makes workouts more effective. But for insomniacs, this essential sleep can be elusive

    That’s what the makers of a new sleep gadget, the Sleep Shepherd Blue, hope to address. While other sleep trackers record how much you slept or wake you up at a specific stage of your sleep cycle, they don’t directly intervene to support better sleep. But the Sleep Shepherd Blue uses brain-training sounds to help people get an extremely deep night’s sleep. 

    Sleep Shepherd Blue
    Sleep Shepherd Blue

    Michael Larson, an entrepreneur and mechanical engineer, began working on the Sleep Shepherd after his 17-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a sleep disorder. When the only recommendations for treatment she was given involved pharmaceuticals, he decided to develop an effective tool that was drug-free. First came a Sleep Shepherd hat, and now the sleeker, smaller headband version called Sleep Shepherd Blue.

    The Sleep Shepherd Blue plays sounds call binaural beats. These subtle humming noises — one playing in each ear of the headband — are said to lull the brain into a meditative sort of state and lower it slowly, slooowly into deep sleep. 

    “(The beats) are like a hammock for your brain,” Larson told The Huffington Post. “They help your brain slow down, which is the very definition of sleeping.”

    A number of apps and online streaming systems also play binaural beats to help you sleep, though unlike the Sleep Shepherd Blue, they don’t necessarily play the beats directly into your ears. Studies suggest these beats improve perceived sleep quality, though more research is needed to see if they actually cause you to fall asleep.   

    The Sleep Shepherd headband measures your brain waves as well. If it senses them speeding up toward wakefulness, it will play beats designed to guide you back to sleep for the night.

    It’s an all-natural route for anyone who wants to avoid sleep medicines, Larson said. The headband connects to an app that tracks your hours of sleep each night and shows you how long you spent in each stage, kind of like a revved-up FitBit

    The Sleep Shepherd Blue is currently only available on Kickstarter for introductory prices of $119 to $199, depending on when you get in on the deal. Headbands will be ship out next month, Larson told HuffPost.

    Sleep Shepherd Blue

    We’re encouraged to see a drug-free sleep aid for those who can’t or prefer not to take medication. Now THAT’S a win all around. 

    Anne Hathaway Is a Blonde Now

    This weekend, probably in a desperate attempt to seem fun, Anne Hathaway dyed her hair blonde. So far, the only picture of her new strands is a selfie that she posted on Instagram, and the hair would look fine if she wasnt wearing a fedora over it. This blonde is definitely an improvement over her bleached hair at the 2013 Met Gala, when she was still growing out her hair from getting a fugly boy haircut during Les Mis. Were not sure whether she dyed it for a role or just for fun, but most likely shes just bored while pregnant and sitting at home 24/7. Ditch the fedora Anne, then maybe you can sit with us.

    Be honest. Did I unwittingly dress like a fashion scarecrow this morning?

    A photo posted by Anne Hathaway (@annehathaway) on

    This State’s New Abortion Bill Is So Restrictive It Might As Well Be A Ban

    Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Mississippi’s New Abortion Law Is Wildly Restrictive

    By Mehak Anwar

    The latest news when it comes to abortion access is not reassuring. On Thursday, March 21, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill that bans abortions in the state once the fetus’s heartbeat can be heard. The bill, which is poised to be one of the strictest abortion bans in the country, could ban abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, around the time early traces of fetal heartbeat can be perceived. Elite Daily reached out to Bryant’s office for comment on the bill and his remarks, but did not immediately hear back. Mississippi’s new abortion law is wildly restrictive, and reproductive rights activists and organizations are preparing to fight back.

    Mississippi’s abortion bill, SB 2116, which is slated to take effect on July 1, 2019, not only prohibits abortions of “an unborn human individual with detectable fetal heartbeat,” but it also penalizes physicians who perform the abortions. The bill states:

    A physician performing an abortion on a pregnant woman after determining that the unborn human individual has a detectable fetal heartbeat is subject to license revocation or disciplinary action.

    At the signing ceremony, Bryant celebrated the bill, calling a heartbeat “the universal hallmark of life since man’s very beginning.” Elite Daily reached out to Bryant’s office for comment on the bill and his remarks, but did not immediately hear back.

    For further insight on the bill’s impact, Elite Daily reached out to Dr. Natalie Hinchcliffe, a family medicine provider in Ohio and Fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. Dr. Hinchcliffe tells Elite Daily that Bryant’s definition of a heartbeat is not a medical definition, but the governor’s personal one. Hinchcliffe added, “The attempt to politically define when life begins is a direct attempt to control women and pregnant peoples’ bodies by applying the personal beliefs of some politicians onto everyone.” Elite Daily reached out to Gov. Bryant’s office for comment on Dr. Hinchcliffe’s statement, but did not hear back at the time of publication.

    Mississippi, which only has one clinic offering abortion services in the entire state, will join a list of states like Louisiana, Indiana, Missouri, and Texas, that have recently introduced or passed extremely restrictive abortion bills, including six-week bills in states like Iowa, which a state judge declared unconstitutional.

    The Center for Reproductive Rights released a statement on Tuesday, March 19 vowing to sue to block the new bill. In the statement, CRR notes the bill “would ban abortion before many women know they’re pregnant,” which CCR calls “blatantly unconstitutional.” Elite Daily reached out to Gov. Bryant’s office for comment on CRR calling the bill “unconstitutional,” but did not hear back at the time of publication. After the Supreme Court case affirmed the right to an abortion nationally in 1973, the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in further upheld the right for pregnant people to decide to have an abortion before the fetus is viable, usually around 24 weeks. The case also affirmed that while states could regulate the procedure, they could not put an “undue burden” on individuals attempting to access abortion — leaving the debate about what kinds of burdens are “undue” ongoing.

    Dr. Hinchcliffe says that Mississippi’s strict abortion timeline constitutes an “undue burden” because it bans abortion before most people know they are pregnant. “This is beyond an undue burden. This is an impossible burden.” Elite Daily reached out to Gov. Bryant’s office for comment on Dr. Hinchcliffe asserting the bill is an “undue burden,” but did not hear back at the time of publication.

    Dr. Daniel Grossman, an abortion provider and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), explains the implications of the bill:

    A heartbeat is not usually detectable before [six] weeks of pregnancy, which is about [two] weeks after a missed period. So that means a patient would have [two] weeks to recognize they’re pregnant, finalize their decision, find a facility with an available appointment, get time off work or from school, get the needed money together, and arrange transportation.

    Dr. Grossman adds, “This burden is so extreme that it essentially makes abortion impossible to access for the vast majority of patients.” Elite Daily reached out to Gov. Bryant’s office for comment on Dr. Grossman’s statement, but did not hear back at the time of publication.

    Reproductive rights advocates are already pushing back against the bill. In an email to Elite Daily, Deputy National Communications Director at NARAL Pro-Choice America calls the law “unconstitutional,” saying:

    It would make it harder for healthcare providers to operate in Mississippi — a state already facing a crisis when it comes to medical care for women and families — by penalizing doctors who perform abortion services and creating a nightmare scenario as medical professionals flee the state and clinics are forced to close that are the primary source of heath care for many women. Further, this bill would make no exception for women who are survivors of rape or incest, meaning survivors would be forced to carry their pregnancy to term.

    Elite Daily reached out to Gov. Bryant’s office for comment on NARAL Pro-Choice America’s statement on the bill, but did not hear back at the time of publication.

    On its website, NARAL Pro-Choice America notes that “91 percent of Mississippi women live in counties with no abortion clinic,” calling abortion policies in the state “severely restrictive.”

    Dr. Hinchcliffe notes that this law, like all abortion care restrictions, will disproportionately impact people of low income, people of color, and LGBTQIA people, adding, “Abortion is health care. Doctors know this; patients know this; it’s time for politicians to understand this.”

    Though the heartbeat bill has been signed by the Republican governor, the state can expect legal action from CCR that may block the law or strike it down.

    Read more: https://www.elitedaily.com/p/mississippis-new-abortion-law-is-wildly-restrictive-16977396

    Why does this new Pokmon look exactly like Donald Trump?

    Even though Nintendo should have stopped announcing new Pokmon after the sad, dismal failure that was Popplio, it seems they’re determined to lower the bar even more. As of today, there’s a Pokmon that looks like Republican presidential candidate and wrinkly-smirk emoji Donald Trump.

    Meet Yungoos, a loitering-type Pokmon that, like The Donald, is basically a weasel in a hairpiece. Also like Trump, Yungoos has a strong jaw and tiny little hands. Sad!

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    We’ll probably never learn what Trump himself thinks of Yungoos, because although he’s happy to offer strong opinions on every subject from immigration to Diet Coke to the RPatz-KStew breakup, he refuses to answer America’s burning questions about Pocket Monsters.

    Can we be expected to elect a leader who doesn’t have the guts to openly declare that America can catch ’em all?

    Only 146 more days left in this nightmarish horse race.

    Naturally, Gwyneth Paltrow is covered in goop on Goop’s first magazine cover

    Image: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Fast Company

    Goop has officially leapt beyond your screen and has headed towards newsstands this month with a new magazine featuring Gwyneth Paltrow right on the cover, naked and covered in goop, of course.

    The new quarterly publication is a being made in collaboration with Condé Nast and will focus on topics like wellness, beauty, crystals, and bee-venom treatments—your typical Goop content. 

    On the cover, Paltrow looks comfortable being nearly nude and completely covered in mud. Thanks to a preview from Vogue, we know a bit of what the actress and health advocate will discuss in her first editor’s letter. 

    “I remember standing in a hippie health-food store in Greenwich Village,” she writes, according to Vogue. “And I saw a little paperback book describing a ‘master cleanse,’ and I was like, ‘What’s that?’ I remember the next day [after I finished the cleanse] I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I just did this cleanse, and I feel so much better. I can have a beer and a cigarette now, right?'”

    Riveting! According to the site, the issue will also delve into “a do-anywhere Tracy Anderson workout, fall fashion recap, and a how-to for having better orgasms.”

    Despite the recent shuttering of many print publications, Goop magazine is retailing for almost $15 and people have a lot of thoughts about the new project. 

    Can Goop singlehandedly revive print or will it eventually pivot to video? Stay tuned on Sept. 19, when the magazine is released on newsstands, to find out. 

    Welltory packs a lot of science into its app to measure your stress levels

    Theres a lot of talk about the quantified self, but one of the grey areas remains working out your levels of stress. Usually this requires hardware devices. Now a New York-based startup thinks its come up with an approach based on specially developed algorithms and machine learning using simple heartbeat readings taken with a smartphone app.

    Welltory (iOS, Android) has also now closed its second investment round, raising $1 million from business angels. This is being used to launch the next version of the app, which is aimed at cutting down your stress levels and boosting your productivity. Luckily the app is, in my opinion, a joy to use in terms of interface and over-all usability.

    Heres their idea: Google Analytics for humans, complete with AB-testing features and KPI goals. The idea is to work out the effect of how, for instance, morning meditation, working from home or a diet change might affect stress and energy levels. You then keep what works for you and discard what doesnt.

    While the main measurement comes through measuring your heartbeat, using the same PPG technology found in most pulse oximeters, it then applies variability algorithms to assess the state of the autonomic nervous system the bodys stress and recovery regulation center. Thats how they come up with stress and energy levels.

    In fact, this is the same technique used by professionals in sports. The Red Wings hockey team relies on HRV analysis to track training and recovery with Firstbeat. Similarly, NBA players like DeAndre Jordan and Matthew Dellavedova wear HRV-based WHOOPs during games.

    But Welltory is aiming to bring this kind of monitoring to the masses.

    Competitors in this space are usually hardware-based, such as the aforementioned WHOOP (which is a $500 device) and Firstbeat, which has several hardware partners.

    Welltory is free as a basic version, but the paid version of the Welltory app has a Quantified Self Dashboard, which lets users collect data about their lifestyles.

    It also can be synced with fitness trackers and Fitbits, Apple Health and Google Fit to collect data about sleep, nutrition and physical activity. It also supports RescueTime (a desktop-based productivity tracker), home weather stations that track your surroundings and more.

    Over time it generates charts for you to work out correlations between behaviors. So for instance, you can see if walking an extra mile a day helps stress levels, or see if meditation sessions are affected by the weather that day.

    Jane Smorodnikova, co-founder, says the Quantified Self remains a mystery to most, so bringing all the data together in one interface helps explain it. They can see how their activity influences their stress, how many hours of sleep they need to recover properly and what lifestyle habits influence their productivity at work. Stress and energy measurements is the key that connects the dots of your lifestyle data and makes it easy to get real insights.

    Welltory says it currently has 125,000 users and 650,000+ heart rate variability measurements. Its also got a healthy growth in paid users.

    Co-founders Alexander Lyskovsky, Jane Smorodnikova and Pavel Pravdin are all quantified self aficionados who come from engineering backgrounds who wanted an approach based on science and hard data. They were advised by Professor Roman Baevsky, a space medicine expert who is currently a consultant at NASA and the Mars 500 project, who applied heart rate variability to the space program in the 1960s.