Tuesday
Jul222014

Chocolate & Cardiovascular Health by Mercola.com

We are so incredibly blessed to feature Dr. Mercola's amazing team on our blog today!  Dr. Mercola is a champion of wholistic nutrition and healthy living.  He has inspired millions of people to pursue their health goals and we are so moved by his mission!  Today, we are talking about none other than our favorite food -- chocolate!  

How Chocolate Can Be Good for Your Heart

Chocolate is one of the most popular and well-loved foods around the world, and giving it up is difficult for many people. Fortunately for chocolate lovers, plenty of studies vouch for the health benefits of chocolate.

It is important to note that the chocolate in question here is raw cacao or dark chocolate – not milk chocolate. 

Unprocessed chocolate contains flavonols, which have antioxidant properties that can help eliminate free radicals.

Can Chocolate Promote Cardiovascular Health?

Years ago, researchers found that small amounts of dark chocolate can support your heart. The researchers discovered that, like aspirin, chocolate possesses a biochemical effect that decreases the clumping of platelets, which cause blood to clot. Platelet clumping can be fatal if the clotting blocks a blood vessel.

Another study in 2008 found that raw cocoa powder can lower the risk of cardiovascular problems in diabetics. Participants were given a special cocoa drink (with high levels of flavonols) to drink for one month. An improvement was seen in the diabetics’ blood vessel functions, which was impaired. This change was similar to those observed who exercised or used diabetes medications.

In a more recent study, researchers discovered that chocolate contains the compound epicatechin, a flavonoid that can help protect your brain after a stroke by stimulating two pathways that shield your brain’s nerve cells from damage. Epicatechin and similar antioxidants can be found in tea, red wine, and certain fruits and vegetables. 

Other Benefits of Chocolate

Take a look at these other chocolate benefits: 

  • Resveratrol, a potent water-soluble polyphenol, is produced by certain fruits and vegetables, most abundantly in muscadine grapes. Recent findings have shown that resveratrol can be obtained in raw cacao.
  • Raw cacao can contribute to a healthy sex life because of its “aphrodisiac” properties. Cacao contains anandamide or the “bliss molecule,” along with compounds that prevent your body from breaking down this molecule. 
  • At the same time, cacao is a great source of magnesium, phosphorus, antioxidants, arginine, and methylxanthines. It also has phenylethylamine or the “love chemical,” which induces the release of dopamine in your brain during sex.
  • Chocolate is a natural painkiller. A researcher from the University of Michigan found that consuming chocolate can help release natural opiates in your brain that help relieve pain. 
  • Eating chocolate can also yield a psychoactive effect, helping increase your production of endorphins or “feel good” hormones in the brain. 
  • A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry rated different types of chocolate according to their antioxidant content.  Cocoa powder has the highest amount, then unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and finally, milk chocolate. 

Recommended Types and Amounts of Chocolate  

While one of the studies confirms the antioxidant properties of milk chocolate, this type of chocolate should be avoided. The milk added to chocolates interferes with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients in the chocolate. Milk chocolate also contains loads of sugar and has less than half of the flavonoids of dark chocolate after being processed.

Another concerning matter about processed milk chocolate is its high lead content. There is little information on where the lead comes from. Researchers speculate that it’s from the shipping or the manufacturing process. You can limit your risk of exposure by consuming only dark, organic, unprocessed chocolate.

Other than limiting your chocolate to the unprocessed variety, consume it only if you’re healthy and in moderation. People with disorders related to insulin resistance should avoid any form of chocolate altogether.

You should only eat about 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day, or less than half a bar a week. This small amount may produce significant effects against inflammation and cardiovascular disease. 

About the Author:

Katrina Pascual writes for Mercola.com, and is researching wholesome foods that naturally promote cardiovascular health. She is also researching wholesome herbal supplements, such as curcumin and tulsi, and how they affect people’s overall health.

Wednesday
Jul162014

Chaga Dreamsicle

This recipe is such an incredible summer treat!  It is a nourishing confection with tonic herbs and ghee.  We adapted this recipe from Christian Bates of Longevity Power.  Check out his incredible ghee ice cream recipe here

Chaga Dreamsicle (Yields 4)

5 TBS Ghee

3 TBS Non-GMO Soy Lecithin

13.5oz Coconut milk

2 Egg Yolks

4 TBS Honey

2 heaping tsp Maca Powder

2 tsp Mesquite Powder

2 tsp Chaga Powder

8 dropperfuls Chaga Tincture (make your own or purchase here)

1/2 tsp Stevia

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Optional:

1 Sacred Chocolate Mylk Chocolate Bar

3 TBS Cacao Butter, grated

In a blender, combine the Ghee, Lecithin, Coconut Milk, and Egg Yolks on high for about a minute to emulsify the fats.  After this, turn the blender off and add in the rest of the ingredients.  Blend again on high for 30 seconds.  Pour the mixture into your popsicle molds and toss in the freezer.  These freeze up in about 8 hours.  

If you'd like to add a chocolate drizzle, dislodge the popsicles out of the molds and lay them on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper.  Keep them in the freezer while you melt together your chocolate bar and grated cacao butter on low over the stove.  Whisk the chocolate continuously as it is melting so that it does not burn.  When the chocolate is melted, take a spoon and drizzle the chocolate over your popsicles.  Throw them back into the freezer until the chocolate is hardened.  This typically only takes about 10 minutes.  Enjoy! 

Thursday
Jul102014

Inside "Sacred Cookies & Elixirs"

My good friend, Christophe Berg, had made a video of him flipping through his absolutely BEAUTIFUL cookbook (available here) and it inspired us to do the same.  Learn all about our recipe book here.  Enjoy!

Wednesday
Jul092014

DIY Tincture

A tincture is an alcohol extract of an herb (or herbs).  We can get a fraction of nutrients from herbs out of water (tea or infusion), but there are alcohol soluble nutrients that need to be extracted via alcohol.  Tincture's are a traditional form of medicine.  I first started making tincture's when I would make Chaga tea, but felt guilty about throwing out my chaga after my tea had been brewed.  I had read that I could brew Chaga tea, and then place the drained Chaga pieces into alcohol to make a tincture, so I did just that!  Making your own tinctures (as with anything) saves you money and is also a great learning experience.  

DIY Tincture

  • 4oz Organic Grape Alcohol or Organic Grain Alcohol
  • 1oz Powdered Herb

In a glass jar, vigorously shake together the grape alcohol and powdered herb until well combined.  Place this sealed glass jar in a dark, cool place for three weeks, shaking the jar everyday to keep the herb well incorporated.  Do not open the jar for these three weeks.  After the three weeks are up, the tincture is ready to be consumed!  If you'd like, you can strain out the herb using cheesecloth, and then rebottle the tincture in a clean glass jar.  A typical daily serving dose for tinctures is one dropper-full (I keep my droppers from previous tincture's that I have purchased).  The properties of your tincture will depend upon the herb that you have chosen.  Today, I chose to make a Passionflower tincture, which is known to regulate homorne health.  When the tincture is ready, I will consume a dropper-full of Passionflower tincture per day.  I hope you enjoy creating these healing medicines!  It is so much fun to set such a loving intention for our body.  

The best quality and most economical place to buy herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs.

Saturday
Jul052014

Turnip Blueberry Muffins by Golubka

Today we feature our incredibly inspiring friend, Golubka.  A couple of years ago we had the wonderful pleasure of being featured on her blog - which you can see here.  She has supported us since the beginning, and we are so very grateful for this awesome lady!  She also has just released her debut cookbook "The Vibrant Table", which you can purchase here.  

I'm always looking for ways to include vegetables in every dish, desserts included. After making vegan sweet potato muffins with great results, I one day thought of trying other root vegetables in a muffin. Turnips, rutabaga, kohlrabi are not the most popular among their category, but rich in health benefits and culinary opportunity, so I try to pay them as much attention as I can. Lately I've been eating a lot of salad turnips from the local farm - they are great raw, with a squeeze of lemon juice, some salt, pepper and light drizzle of olive oil.  

For these muffins, I made a turnip mash to include in the batter and the technique did not disappoint - I got a nice, light batter. Blueberry season is here, and we've been celebrating with these gluten free treats. I will also be making them with other berries and chocolate.

Turnip Blueberry Muffins - Vegan and Gluten Free

  • 1 medium to large turnip
  • 3/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil - soft, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 heaping cup of Blueberries

1. Boil turnip for 20 -30 minutes or until soft when pricked with a fork.  Drain immediately once done. Cool, peel and shred on the finest side of a box grater. You should have about 1 cup of puree.
2. In a medium bowl, combine all the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.
3. Using a hand mixer, beat coconut oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Add in the turnip puree and mix in well. Add almond milk, lemon juice and vanilla, stirring well to incorporate.
4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, mix to combine. Fold in the blueberries.
5. Distribute between 12 muffin holes. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Note:* These muffins are best the same day, but can be kept tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.