From fasting to feasting!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the significant health benefits of intermittent fasting in my last post. There are so many health benefits related to fasting beyond simply losing weight. Lots of great research supporting it as an amazing lifestyle intervention.
You’ll definitely be hearing more about fasting due to the growing body of research showing how it positively impacts so many health conditions.
Now I want to spend just a bit more time on the need to feast as well! Feasting was also mentioned in my last post. It is important we cut ourselves some slack and enjoy the occasional temptations… and bonding opportunities.
Nothing like time spent chatting with great friends over a lovely meal (and yes, that can include the infrequent chocolate dessert and glass of wine!).
Today I’ll be talking about the health – and joyful feasting – benefits of two of my favorite treats!
Quality dark chocolate and maca! Yum! (see the recipes at the end, my two treats combined…delicious!)
Would you believe chocolate makes us happier and a bit friskier? It contains compounds that have mood enhancing effects. It may also give us a jolt of much-needed energy.
And according to my good friend and heart health expert, Dr. Steven Masley, chocolate is a “smart fat” and everyone needs an ounce of quality (72% or more) chocolate in their life, each day! Permission from a heart expert, love it!
Yes, it’s true…chocolate helps our mood, energy and has some heart health effects.
First, let’s define the “chocolate” I am talking about!
I’m talking about quality chocolate.
What’s quality chocolate?
Well, it isn’t the chocolate “candy” that you often find at the grocery store checkout counter! That candy is likely loaded with a lot of artificial ingredients, refined sugars, and preservatives. If you need a refresher about what high-quality chocolate is, it only contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, lecithin, and natural inclusions like fruit or nuts or spices. That’s it.
You can read some fun articles by my brother, Robert Cabeca, who is a chef and an expert in all things chocolate (read his blog at http://thechocolatechef.cooking/whats-sugar-chocolate/ ); these recent articles are about the ingredients that are found in quality chocolate (and what is not), and how much sugar or sweeteners are contained in the various chocolate you can buy.
You’ll quickly see from reading material by both Dr. Masley and my brother that the issue with chocolate, in terms of whether it is good for you, is the quality (aka the amount of sugar) and also the quantity of chocolate you eat! Too much sugar is bad for us, no matter what the source.
There’s an actual science to the use of sugar in making chocolate. Some Artisan Chocolate Makers will use organic sugar or modern sugar substitutes like Stevia (one of my favorite healthy sugar substitutes), crystallized maple syrup or crystalized honey. Others may use substitutes more appropriate for products serving people with sensitivities to sugar products, such as diabetics. For those consumers, there are sugar substitutes in chocolates such as fructose, mannitol, sorbitol, and others. You can read Robert’s articles at the above link for more information.
You can also watch a video (at the same page as Robert’s articles) on the making of white table sugar, which will leave you wanting none of that in your chocolate (or anything else!)!
So you want quality chocolate without a lot of sugar or other additives. I also recommend organic chocolate, as I otherwise worry about possible pesticide contamination.
And again, either a very small amount a la Dr. Masley’s advice…or as an occasional treat.
Dr. Masley refers to dark chocolate as a smart fat, which has shown to have benefits for overall heart health, brain health, blood pressure…and libido! The flavanols in cocoa have been found to lower blood pressure, which has been linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks.
Chocolate also contains a variety of mood-enhancing ingredients, such as tryptophan. Tryptophan stimulates a hormone called serotonin, which is our mood hormone. So consuming tryptophan can elevate our mood.
Another chemical in chocolate is anandamide, which gives us a sense of well-being as it binds to the dopamine receptors in our brain. There is also theobromine, which increases a positive mood…love the sound of all of this, don’t you?
And relating to libido…along with these other mood boosts – and the energy that caffeine, sugar, and endorphins provide, there are several chemicals contained in chocolate that are thought to positively impact our friskiness.
L-arginine is one as well as phenylethylamine…and zinc is another well-known libido booster (it enhances adrenal function…which is supportive of increased sex drive and libido!)…here are a few non-chocolate libido boosting recipes for you to enjoy as well!
So I don’t mind a piece of quality dark chocolate as a treat…or when my family gets together…or when I recently had a chocolate pastry for breakfast one day during a visit to Poland.
It’s also fun to mix a bit of delicious dark chocolate with my other favorite treat, Mighty Maca Plus.
Maca is an ugly little root that is packed with protein, natural sugars, iron, potassium, arginine, iodine, magnesium, calcium, and fiber!
Maca contains plant sterols that stimulate the endocrine system and help it achieve hormonal balance. Known as the Peruvian Viagra (oh, another benefit!)…it has been balancing women’s and men’s hormones for centuries. When I first researched maca, I found out that it is high in arginine (which stimulates nitric oxide production which is how viagra works) and very unique proteins called macaenes. It is also an alkaline root and detoxifying.
As an adrenal adaptogen, maca helps your body deal with stressors and the overactive and underactive adrenal gland. Any of you have stress going on out there???
Maca has been shown to improve mood, boost energy naturally, enhance libido, improve fertility and is great for PMS symptoms and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.
One pilot study conducted on early postmenopausal women confirmed that through balancing hormones in the body, maca helped women reduce the many discomforts which they experienced in early postmenopausal stage.
Women in my Magic Menopause program love my Mighty Maca® Plus superfoods drink for this reason!
Why the “Plus” in Mighty Maca’s name? Because on top of the many health benefits it tastes so good. I honestly didn’t like the way maca tasted by itself so partly out of necessity created my superfoods combo!
Along with maca, all 30+ superfood ingredients in Mighty Maca – procured from around the globe for their restorative, health-enhancing qualities – were chosen for their own unique strengths as well as their synergistic health benefits when combined.
And the maca I use is certified organic and certified gluten-free from Peru!
Men love it too.
Check out my good friend Johnny Bowden’s (the Nutrition Myth Buster!) blog on how he starts every day with Mighty Maca!
I love it when I can pair chocolate with Mighty Maca!
Here’s a winning recipe from a recent competition we had within my community for a Keto-Alkaline treat….
This has become one of my daughter’s favorite mid-week pick-me-up treats!
My Magic Menopause ladies have played around with many hot cocoa and smoothie recipes…looking for the perfect combination of a little bit of chocolate with their Mighty Maca Plus…start with these recipes and add your own favorite ingredients!
Directions: heat almond milk on low heat; whisk in Mighty Maca and cacao, and other ingredients. Top with the pinch of cinnamon and optional dark chocolate.
Time: 45 minutes
Below is my brother’s recipe for a delightfully unique flavor experience with hints of lemon, lime, cinnamon, spices, and earthiness. He recommends using a very Dark Chocolate 75% or higher, made from cocoa beans grown in Peru, Haiti, Indonesia, or Columbia for complimentary flavors.
Limit your consumption of these to 7 or 8 a day.
8 Ounces fine chocolate (Try a Peruvian 75% San Martin from Potomac Chocolate)
5 Ounces Heavy Cream
35 Grams Mighty Maca Plus blend
1/4 Teaspoon fine lemon zest
6.3 Ounces fine Dark Chocolate for Tempering
1.2 Ounce fine Dark Chocolate for temper seeding
1 Ounce cocoa powder
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon, ground
This is the condensed version.
Bring heavy cream with the lemon rind to a full boil over medium low heat then remove and cool for 30 seconds. Then re-boil and cool for 30 seconds.
Now add the Mighty Maca to the hot cream and slowly re-boil a third time. Cool for 15 – 20 seconds, then pour cream directly into your bowl of chocolate.
Jiggle the bowl a little to get the chocolate covered in the cream. Let sit for 30 seconds while you start heating 1 Cup of water to steaming level. Stir the Ganache as much as you can and then place it over the steaming (not bubbling) water. Stir gently until smooth, creamy and silky, but do not let the temperature exceed 120 degrees.
When the Ganache is thick, go ahead and spoon it out onto parchment paper using tea spoons as described in the section above. Try to keep them at about 1” in size and close together. Wearing gloves, roll the Ganache into balls remembering not to hold them in your hands too long.
Stir and temper the chocolate using the method described above, or here is the condensed version. In summary:
Steam 1 cup of water in a saucepan and place the larger amount of chocolate on top of it. Stir slowly. When at 112 degrees, remove the bowl from the saucepan. Continue stirring and add the chocolate seed when the temperature is at 118.4 degrees.
Try not to let the chocolate overheat. Do not add the chocolate Seed until the proper temperature of 118.4 degrees is reached, not higher.
Stir the chocolate gently until cooled to 86.4 degrees.
Warm the chocolate for 15 seconds over steaming water.
Your chocolate is now tempered and ready to use.
Mix the cocoa powder with the ground cinnamon and place in a bowl for coating.
Wearing gloves, place some chocolate in your hand and roll 4 or 5 truffles to get them nice and coated. Let them drop through your fingers into the bowl of cinnamon cocoa powder without touching each other.
Toss well and scoop out with a strainer and place on the tray. When all the truffles are coated, place them all back in the bowl and shake for about 45 seconds. Pour them back out on to the tray and shake gently to loosen the extra cocoa powder.
Let set for 20 to 30 minutes and enjoy your healthy achievement!
My brother Robert loves to add Mighty Maca to his chocolate creations…I’m going to try and get him to share a few of his other recipes in future blogs…
In the meantime, send me your favorites…and enjoy the occasional chocolate treat…the good news is you can have Mighty Maca anytime!