Chocolate has long since been associated with magical, medicinal and mythical properties. In fact, the Aztecs and the Mayans used cacao as a form of currency and were known to use chocolate in baptisms and marriage ceremonies. Mayan emperors were also often buried with jars of chocolate by their side.
The Latin name for cacao trees is Theobroma Cacao, or “food of the gods.”
Current research suggests that dark chocolate can boost memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. It has also been shown to promote lower blood pressure and have positive effects on cholesterol levels, platelet function, and insulin sensitivity.
I always knew there were many good reasons behind my love of chocolate!!
However, it has to be stated that these are the findings associate with dark chocolate with 70% cacao or above. Milk chocolate, which is nearly all sugar has none of the health benefits associated with dark chocolate.
Instead of buying, you can simply make your own chocolate from cacao butter and cacao powder. It has all the health benefits and is a great way to stop sweet cravings dead in their tracks.
After many years of working with people on their fat loss and nutrition goals, I find many people, mostly women, get sweet cravings when they sit down in the evening. Assuming they have followed the basic rules of nutrition for fatloss, this is a great way to satisfy the urge to snack on something off plan.
There is something cathartic about the process of making your own chocolate. I use all organic ingredients and add different, food grade, essential oils to change the flavour. Peppermint chocolate is my all time favourite, but I am very partial to chocolate ginger in the winter and citrus flavours in the summer.
The recipe I use is really quick and easy to make, it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes from the start to pouring into the chocolate moulds.
Prep time 5 mins, cooking time 10 mins
100g Organic Cacao Butter
1/2 cup Organic Cacao Powder
1/3 cup (40g) Organic Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
2-3 Drops Essential Oil (I use 2 drops peppermint 1 drop Lavender)
A Pinch of Himalayan Salt (optional)
Place the cacao butter in bowl and melt it by placing it over a pan of simmering water. Stir gently. (Be very careful not to burn yourself on either the pan or the steam)
Remove the bowl from the heat and add the cacao powder, vanilla essence and maple syrup. Stir gently until all the powder has dissolved and you have a nice chocolatey liquid.
Then carefully add your essential oil of choice and stir again. (I use Doterra because it is a very high grade oil many of which can be taken internally. Do not use cheap oils many of which have synthetic fragrances added and are harmful if taken internally.)
Once you have done this, pour into moulds and place in the re-fridgerator to set. If you don't have any moulds you can pour it into a dish lined with baking paper.