Quick sweet dessert with raw cacao

Having given up sugar (well, almost), there are those times when I need to satisfy a craving for something powerfully tasty and sweet. Usually it’s post-dinner that I get that feeling that a little something sweet would be satisfying. And my favorite sweets are those that contain chocolate.

So once every couple of weeks when that craving hits, I add these ingredients (all organic if available):

  • raw cacao
  • coconut oil
  • maple syrup

into a small bowl, stirring to mix. Continue reading

Lead and cadmium in chocolate? Oh, my!

This just in! Have you heard? Some (mostly dark) chocolate bars contain small amounts of lead and cadmium. CNN reports:

As You Sow, a California-based consumer advocacy group, believes that some chocolate has more lead than necessary. An updated survey released by the group this week found levels of lead in chocolate at nine times the daily amount that California considers safe to avoid reproductive harm. In addition, the group also found cadmium up to seven times the state’s maximum daily exposure.

The group had multiple samples of 50 different cocoa products analyzed by an independent lab and found more than half contained lead and cadmium levels above the state’s limits, which are more strict than federal guidelines. As You Sow won’t disclose the exact amounts of metals found in the products, in hopes of working directly with the manufacturers to help target sources of these metals, it said. [my emphasis]

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6 variations on the chocolate breakfast smoothie

 

For months, I indulged daily in eating pieces of chocolate bars with 70 percent or more cacao. It was intensely deep dark chocolate. On good days, I could eat just one small square, and my tastebuds felt gratified and satisfied.

On bad days, half the bar – or the whole dang thing.

I’m not sure if it was the wee bit of sugar or the chocolate that led me to overindulge like that. Chocolate contains magnesium, a mineral most of us are low in, and stress depletes magnesium. Hence chocolate relieves stress. (Bet you knew that already! Yep, that’s the ticket! Stress made me overindulge!)

Sugar is plainly addictive (read more here). Instead of relieving stress, it adds to the body’s stress load and plays a role in obesity, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, diabetes, cancer, tooth decay, malnutrition, heart disease, etc.).

Yes, sometimes a little bit of sugar sneaks into my food (usually in small amounts in a condiment like ketchup or fish sauce), and very occasionally I satisfy a desire for a package of peanut M&Ms. Usually, however, if sugary sweetness is the main point, I forgo it, eating at most 1 teaspoon a day, far below the 32 teaspoons per day the average American consumes.

My tastebuds have changed so that I notice and enjoy the natural sweetness of foods like carrots, liver, caramelized onions, roasted veggies. When I ate sugar regularly, there was no such thing as “too sweet”. Now there definitely is. If you are moving away from sugar, wait for this to happen!

But what to do about cravings for something sweet, without sugar, and chocolate-y?

Make chocolate breakfast smoothies to start each day well!

If you’re concerned about lead and cadmium in chocolate, you can learn more here.

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Empty glass, Buddha Board

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Raspberry chocolate super-smoothie bliss

I’ve made this smoothie twice now, and it’s definitely worth sharing. Raspberries and chocolate complement each other very, very well, and this smooth is loaded with nutrients from superfoods, keeping you hydrated and giving you energy.

I added measurements this time! Last time I just threw things together in the blender. Except for the first two packaged ingredients, these are not exact, just indicators. Use your own judgment.

  • 1 14-oz bottle Zico coconut water
  • 1 6-oz container of organic raspberries
  • 2 T dried goji berries
  • 1 T Cortas pomegranate molasses
  • 2 T Artisana organic coconut butter
  • 2 T organic raw cacao nibs
  • 1 T cacao powder
  • 1 T maca powder
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 1 T ground flax seed meal
  • 1 T flax seed oil
  • peeled ginger root equal to about 1 T

I put everything in the blender and let it run on a high setting for a couple of minutes to pulverize the cacao nibs. It makes about 3 servings.

Coconut butter is a fairly new product on the shelves of health-oriented grocery stores. It uses both the coconut flesh and the oil, so you get fiber from the coconut, and not just the oil. You could even make it yourself. You can use it as a spread (like butter!). Apparently it makes a great match with maca powder.

That’s an area of food research where I’d love to see more work done — what food combinations boost each other. I’ve read that green tea and lemon work really well together too.

The chia seeds soak up liquid and expand, so the smoothie will gel after blending to a nice thick texture, very filling. Chia seeds are another recently “discovered” superfood from Mexico. They boost energy and keep you hydrated through the fluid they absorb. Long-distance runners often use them. They also provide calcium, boost brain functioning, contain anti-oxidants and omega-3s, lower bad cholesterol and raise the good, control high blood pressure, and do many other good things for the human biological machine.

Maca powder is made from a South American root with these properties:

Maca is a nutritionally dense super-food that contains high amounts of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential amino acids. Maca root is rich in B-vitamins, which are the energy vitamins, and maca is a vegetarian source of B-12. To boot, maca has high levels of bioavailable calcium and magnesium and is great for remineralization.

Maca root helps balance our hormones and due to an over abundance of environmental estrogens, most people’s hormones are a bit out of whack. Maca stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which are the “master glands” of the body. These glands actually regulate the other glands, so when in balance they can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.

Instead of providing hormones to the body, maca works as an adaptogen which means that it responds to different bodies’ needs individually. If you’re producing too much of a particular hormone, maca will regulate the production downward. However, if you’re producing too little, it’ll regulate the production upward.

You can google each of these ingredients to learn the health benefits, but this smoothie feels and tastes like an explosion of well-being from your tastebuds down to the cellular and energetic levels.

You could use frozen organic raspberries or any other kind of berry, but please do not use non-organic berries as their skins are thin, and pesticides are easily absorbed into the flesh. (That may not be scientific, but it makes sense to me.)

No particular reason for using both flax seed meal and flax seed oil except that I had both on hand!