A couple of weeks ago I asked, “What do you crave?” Across the vast interconnected web of planetary health-wizards and cultural creatives came the resounding answer, “Chocolate!”
Why, of course. Chocolate is a stimulant, so it is not surprising in this hyper-active world of ours that we look for an easy, edible pick-me-up. Plus, combined as it usually is with sugar and fat, it can be undeniably delicious.
Perhaps more than the stimulant, for some of us it is that sweetness that is craved: a little comfort, relief from the stresses of every day life, a bit of soothing reassurance. Of course, too much of that and instead of a lift, you get a false high and then a deep, enduring bottom.
In fact, studies show that people who snack on chocolate regularly are more depressed than those who only eat it now and again. Ayurvedic Practitioner Alex Duncan wrote a great article about that on his blog, Ayurveda & Life.
But did you know that chocolate can be good for you?
The source of chocolate, Cocoa beans are chock full of heart-healthy anti-oxidants, anti-depressants such as serotonin and dopamine, brain enhancing neurotransmitters, and the “love” chemical phenylethylamine. The Ayurvedic taste of pure chocolate is Bitter which means it has a cleansing, dilating and therefore cooling, anti-inflammatory action, almost like an air-conditioner to the inner body. It is usually craved by Pitta’s – people who run hot and benefit from the heat-reducing qualities of chocolate.
Another delicious benefit is that bitter (cocoa) unites with sweet to help alleviate pain. In Ayurveda, we understand that the sweet taste provides a feeling of contentment or pleasure to the body and comfort to the sense organs. It is no wonder we sometimes consider chocolate like a medicine.
Combining dark chocolate with whole, fresh foods like banana, almonds, or avocado (yes, really!) gives you a great snack to satisfy cravings ~ in moderation, of course. As long as you use pure 100% cocoa (nibs or powder) with healthy ingredients, a little now and then can help you remember that life, as with food, is a love story!
This Chocolate Pudding has been a favorite around our house, and neighborhood, all summer ~
“No Cook” Chocolate Pudding
2 tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Cardamom, Turmeric
Dash of Himalayan Salt
Maple Syrup to Taste
Blend the ingredients together until it is a smooth consistency. Spoon into bowls and dive in!
The original recipe for “No-Cook” Chocolate Pudding came from Whole Living, but their recipe calls for Honey which has a heating action on the body. For Summer, Maple Syrup is recommended by Ayurveda. Coconut sugar is another option. Careful though – this doesn’t need much!
I also like to add Cardamom for a little digestive boost, not to mention that exotic peppery note. Turmeric will help keep the tissues clean and the channels clear after any heavy food, as this is.
For extra medicinal goodness, I add a spoonful of my Maha Shakti Detox Protein Powder, one of my Ayurvedic Specialty Foods now carried at the recently opened Urban Food & Gourmet in San Diego.
Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying the last days of August, especially the juicy bounty of late summer’s colorful harvest!