Harley Pasternak: How to Avoid Packing on the Easter and Passover Pounds

04/16/2014 at 12:44 PM ET

Harley Pasternak
Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune/KRT/Getty; Fotosearch/Getty

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

Easter and Passover are here, and so are chocolate bunnies and chocolate-covered matzoh. But rest assured, a large, convincing body of scientific evidence should ease the guilt we feel after indulging in (but not gorging on) these cocoa delights.

A recent report in the ACS Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that one of the flavonols in cocoa (known as oligomeric procyanidins) made mice lose a significant amount of body fat when compared to a control group. Moreover, they also found improvements in glucose tolerance, which could reduce one’s risk for Type 2 diabetes.

So to celebrate the spirit of the upcoming holidays — and help you indulge without going overboard — here are two recipes to try this week. Cravings, satisfied!

Chocolate Pistachio Matzoh Bark
4 pieces salted matzoh
2 cups dark chocolate chips
⅓ cup chopped toasted pistachios

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange matzoh on baking sheet, leaving no gaps. Bake 10 minutes, or until toasted to a light golden brown.

2. Fresh out of the oven, sprinkle the hot matzoh with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes so the chips can melt (tip: leave them on the range on top of the still-warm oven to help them melt), then use a spatula to spread chocolate over matzoh. Sprinkle with the pistachios while the chocolate is still warm.

3. Place in refrigerator until set (about 20 minutes) and then break into bite-sized pieces and store in an airtight container, preferably refrigerated.

Note: This recipe works best with lightly salted, toasted pistachios. If you choose to roast the pistachios yourself, shell the raw pistachios and place on a baking sheet at 300ºF for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently. To peel the papery case off, throw them in a covered, hard-sided container and shake vigorously. The papers should come right off. Then chop by hand or in a food processor.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse
This mousse gets its decadent creaminess from the avocado, a surprising, but perfect spin on a classic.

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 very ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the best quality you can find)
½ cup agave light syrup (or honey works, too)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. sea salt
⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk
Mint sprigs or fresh raspberries, for garnish

1. Melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth, being careful not to scorch it.

2. Place the melted chocolate, avocado, cocoa powder, agave/honey, vanilla, salt and almond milk in a blender (on its slowest setting) or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides of the container. Spoon into crack-resistant dishes (like Pyrex or ice cream glasses) and refrigerate for at least 90 minutes. Garnish with mint sprigs or raspberries just prior to serving.

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Diane on

This article only needs to be one sentence long: Eat in moderation. Period.

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