When it comes to Christmas everyone gets excited by chocolate. But why does that chocolate have to cost us our health and our waistlines? Well it doesn’t. When I was in Bury the other day I stopped by some people who were protesting, they had pictures of conventional chocolate and some horrible pictures of the worst of the dairy industry and also of baby lambs going off to the slaughter. There are now so many alternatives that don’t have to hurt any living creature that taste great. Why not give them a go this year or even make your own chocolate from the recipe below.
I love chocolate just as much as the next person if not more and 10 years ago I went to a workshop that changed my life. I learnt how to make my own healthy chocolate, free from refined sugar and dairy and in its raw form. Now one of my favourite workshops to run are the raw chocolate ones.
So what are the benefits of raw chocolate and how do you make it?
Chocolate comes from a tree called the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). This tree grows in equatorial regions, especially in places such as South America, Africa and Indonesia.
When the beans are roasted they turn into what we know as cocoa, but the raw beans are known as cacao.
The Cacao bean has long been revered for its medicinal qualities as well as its aphrodisiac effects. So why is this? Raw Chocolate contains approximately 380 known chemicals, making it one of the most complex food substances on Earth! One of the amazing things found in chocolate is a neurotransmitter called Anandamide (n-arachidonoylethanolamine), which has been found in to have a good effect on the brain . Anandamide is a cannabinoid naturally found in the human brain. Anandamide is a lipid (fat) known as "the bliss chemical" because it is released while we are feeling great.
When we consumed cacao it allows more serotonin and other neurotransmitters such as anandamide, dopamine, etc. to circulate in the brain. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, cacao facilitates youthening and rejuvenation.
Another chemical found in Cacao is PEA. It has been shown to increase the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in parts of the brain that control our ability to pay attention and stay alert. Elevated PEA levels occur when we are captivated by a good book, movie, or project; this happens specifically during those moments when we are so focused that we lose all tracks of time, food, and the outside world. PEA is noticeably abundant in the brains of happy people and young people. One of the things that separates children from adults is the level of neurotransmitters in the blood and bodies of children. Generally, as one gets older the level of neurotransmitters decreases. This creates physical rigidity, less creativity, less joy, and more aging! Cacao keeps plenty of neurotransmitters in circulation and thus stops this phenomenon from ever occurring. All this makes cacao a natural Prozac!
According to research cited in The New York Times, fresh cacao beans are super-rich in antioxidant flavonols. Cacao beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) per 100 grams of flavonol antioxidants. This is a whopping 10% antioxidant concentration level! This makes cacao one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food. Compare the cacao bean to processed cocoa powder (defatted, roasted cacao treated with potassium carbonate) and chocolates which range in flavonol content from the more common concentration of 500 milligrams per 100 grams in normal chocolate bars to 5,000 milligrams in Mars Corporation's special Cocoapro cocoa powder.
Research has demonstrated that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to human metabolism. Cornell University food scientists found that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times what is found in green tea.
What better reason to go out and enjoy some lovely healthy raw chocolate and here is how you can make your own.
If you would like to join me on one of my upcoming workshops I will be in Leigh On Sea on the 23rd Nov at Anahata Yoga Centre https://anahatayogacentre.com/cacao-workshop-with-juliette/
50g cacao butter
2 tbs cacao powder
2 tbs coconut sugar
1 tsp of super green mix (optional)
3 drops of wild orange essential oil (food grade)or grated orange zest
1-teaspoon cinnamon (helps lower blood sugar)
Makes 10-12 chocolates
Place your cacao butter into a bowl over a pan of water, simmer the water until the cacao butter has melted. Take off the heat and then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and pour into silicone chocolate moulds. Place in the fridge to set until firm. Store in the fridge or freezer. Best eaten within a week of making if kept in the fridge. If placed in the freezer they will keep for 3 months.