Five Foods You Don't Need to Give Up for Lent

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1. Chocolate
Two words: Flavonoids. Antioxidants. Dark chocolate, more than 70 percent cocoa, has both of them, and they destroy evil free radicals, lower blood pressure, and balance hormones. The folks at Galler Chocolate, a candymaker from Belgium, will be happy to consult with you about the optimal mix for good health and a sin-free soul. Check out their tin of 70 percent cat's tongues or a tube of truffles. Give up instead: Both diet and regular soda, which contributes to obesity and shortens your life span.

Galler Chocolate, 920 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Also: There's not a good reason on Earth to give up the chocolate raspberry or French chocolate cupcakes, made with artisinal ingredients, at Lola's Cupcakery:
Lola's Cupcakery
1523 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

2. Lobster
It may taste like a decadent luxury, but lobster is good for you. And this year, the prices on Maine lobster have come down significantly enough that you needn't suffer a moment's guilt eating it -- some reports put the price per pound at the equivalent of sliced turkey. Lobster is full of omega 3s, it's high in protein and low in fat, and it's low on the food chain, so it doesn't contain more than trace amounts of mercury. Best of all, lobster trapping is very easy on the environment. Give up instead: Tuna, which is severely overfished.
Where to get it:
Two 1 1/4 pound Maine lobsters are on sale for $51.95 (a $20 savings) at lobstergram.com. I've also had good luck ordering live lobsters from Legalseafoods.com. Patriot Lobster sells 1-pound "culls" that have lost one claw for a bargain rate of $9 each not including shipping.
Pop's Fish Market in Deerfield Beach has Florida lobster tails for $28.99 a pound and live Maine lobsters for $11.99 for a 1 1/4 lb. lobster, $13.99 for anything above that. Call them at 954-427-3331.

3. Caviar
No need to ever suffer another sleepless night over the endangered Russian sturgeon -- farmed sturgeon caviar is now widely available, and there's also a color palette of nonsturgeon caviar that's nearly as silky, salty, and luxurious as the real thing. Check out the caviar menu at Marky's in Miami: They've got farmed osetra from France, Italy, Uruguay and the U.S. from about $55 an ounce. Give up instead: Russian wild beluga. Nasty.

4. Bacon
That most misunderstood of foods, bacon, it turns out, is even better for you than eating vegetables. Just kidding. But anybody who'd even think of going 40 days bacon-free is a total masochist. The good news is that now you can buy bacon from humanely raised heritage breeds that is not only miles better than the old grocery-store Oscar Meyer but also helps preserve rare breeds from extinction -- and just generally makes the world a jollier, more delicious place in which to unravel our mortal coil. At Heritage Foods USA, six pounds of Edwards Heritage Berkshire Bacon will set you back $85, but that's enough to last even a serious baconophile until well after the Lenten period ends. The Pig Next Door also has a heritage-bacon-of-the-month club: a pound a month plus tasting notes for six months is $149 plus shipping. Give up instead: One meal at a mediocre restaurant.

5. Foie Gras
Probably the most controversial food in the world, despised by PETA, beloved of chefs and gourmets. But New York chef Dan Barber went to visit the Spanish Farm Pateria de Sousa and learned that it's indeed possible to produce foie gras "naturally" by letting geese gorge the way they always have in the wild, seasonally. Farming this way eliminates the need for gavage (force feeding). Judging from Barber's video, these fowl live in a birdly paradise so wonderful that geese flying over readily land and join them, increasing the flock naturally. The Spanish foie gras isn't available locally yet, but if you love the stuff, lobby your favorite chef to see if he or she can source it. Give up instead: foie gras produced by gavage until the humane version becomes available.

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