Feel Good Medicinal Chocolate (for PMS or general crankiness)

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Need I say more?

We all have these days when we feel a little more tired and cranky than usual and, whether or not is it PMS related, chocolate always provides some much needed support.

I love experimenting in the kitchen and letting my little witchy spirit run wild. This time, what I wanted was a magic potion in bar form. Something that could lift my mood and make me feel both grounded and elevated at the same time. You might think this is asking for too much, but with the right ingredients almost anything is possible.

 
 

The right ingredients…

The plant-based world offers a wide variety of potent ingredients that have the power to help us on so many levels. When it comes to crankiness, lack of focus and generally low mood, our options are practically limitless. Here are the ones I’ve chosen for our spirit elevating concoction.

Cacao

Cacao, which is the raw form of what you may know as cocoa, is a powerhouse of mood boosting and feel good nutrients. Antioxidants, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, copper, B vitamins… cacao also contains alkaloids, proteins, beta-carotene, leucine and much more. It is one of the best natural sources of theobromine, which helps stimulate the central nervous system and relax the muscles. This compound dilates blood vessels, giving the body a boost of energy by improving the blood flow and making serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain more readily available, thus improving mood and combating depression. With all that, no wonder so many of us reach for chocolate whenever we feel blue!

Cacao Butter

When cacao powder is extracted from the cacao bean, cacao butter is the fat left over from the process. This is why – in its raw form – it retains some of the same nutrients as those you can find in the powder. But what is interesting to us here is that it is, in and of itself, quite a healthy fat. It contains vitamin K and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and also has the power to boost serotonin in the brain, which is perfect to elevate the mood.

Coconut Oil

I chose coconut oil as the second source of fat for our magic bar because the fatty acids it contains are great at balancing hormones, helping the body produce, process and eliminate them optimally. Since we know our hormonal ups and downs are behind the PMS Monster, I couldn’t skip it!

Coconut Sugar

While making completely unsweetened chocolate is of course possible, I have to say that a certain level of sweetness is part of the experience when I’m craving some mood supporting chocolate. But here’s the deal: sugar creates hormonal imbalance in the body. This is due to its impact on our our blood sugar levels. Fortunately, not all sugars are created equal. Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index that won’t spike your blood sugar levels as much as regular sugar. Dates could also be an interesting alternative, as could black-strap molasses which contains a lot of iron.

As an addition to these non-negotiables, I thought it would be nice to give our magic bar even more supportive qualities by throwing in a few more – totally optional – feel-good ingredients.

 
Chocolate ingredients.jpg
 

Goji Berries

This beautiful gem-like berry is a well-known superfood! It would seem that it acts as an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body find its balance and better cope with physical and mental stress. As it is also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, I’ll gladly throw them into the mix!

Buckwheat

Now this is not the most obvious choice, and the amount is so small that it may not make a huge difference in terms of nutrition. But it will provide a delicious crunch and buckwheat also happens to have supportive properties, so it certainly won’t do any harm! It seems this lovely looking little pyramid shaped seed is full of manganese, antioxidants and mood boosting magnesium. And it has a low glycemic index to boot!

Maca

Certainly one of the most potent ingredients in this recipe. It is technically on the optional list because the chocolate will still taste wonderful and have some mood-supporting qualities without it but let’s be real: Maca is one of the most powerful adaptogenic plants I’ve ever tried. I’m not typically a fan of the taste, but chocolate is definitely its best friend in my opinion. Maca is well known for balancing hormones and as an energy booster and I can personally vouch for its amazing effects. Nothing gets me as mellowed out as maca does: N O T H I N G! With that said, not all brands are created equal and some are more effective than others. The one I’m using at the moment is this one, but there are other great ones too!

Hemp Seeds

While the picture shows hemp seeds, I actually included hemp hearts in the magic bar because I prefer the texture. Protein, Omega-3, vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc… it’s almost as if there were nothing this humble little seed didn’t have! But for the purposes of our yummy treat, it is its high concentration of essential fatty acids we are after. Don’t forget to include this little powerhouse of nutrition in your diet as often as you can!

Pumpkin Seeds

Again with the magnesium and manganese… but since they are the best at easing the symptoms of stress, we’ll just help ourselves to a little more

The result

 
PMS Chocolate
 

This wonderful looking and delicious tasting chocolatey goodness!

Feel Good Medicinal Chocolate

Ingredients

8 squares* of cacao butter

3 heaping tablespoons of coconut oil (I use this one)

4 tablespoons (or less!) of coconut sugar

4 heaping tablespoons (or more!) of raw cacao powder

1/2 tablespoon of maca powder

Optional and to taste, as “sprinkles”

Goji Berries, Raw Buckwheat, Hemp Seeds or Hemp Hearts, Pumpkin Seeds are what I used, but feel free to add whatever you like (raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)

How To

1- In a heat-proof cup or bowl, combine the coconut oil and cacao butter. Place the cup or bowl on top of a slightly smaller saucepan containing boiling water which should start to melt the mix. If it isn’t melting fast enough, you may put the saucepan over low heat on the hob, and remove once the coconut oil and cacao butter are almost melted. Make sure not to overheat so as to preserve as many of its properties as possible.

2- Take the cup or bowl out of the saucepan and stir in the macacacao powder and coconut sugar until well combined.

3- At this point, you can taste the melted chocolate and add a little bit of this or that to suit your taste (more coconut sugar if you want it sweeter, more cacao if you want it stronger).

4- Pour the mixture into any type of mold you have (I used a big old Tupperware type box I had bought from Ikea ages ago – you do not need to buy a specific mold to make this chocolate!)

5- Sprinkle on the add-ons of your choice to make the bar look pretty and even more delicious.

6- Place the container or mold in the fridge for at least two hours

7- Take out of the fridge, pop out of the mold and enjoy!**

*The cacao butter I found was sold in the form of a bar that looked exactly like a chocolate bar. One square weighs exactly 3.5 g, so you should need just around 30 grams, or 1 oz.

**I would suggest you keep the chocolate refrigerated, especially in summer.

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What is your favourite way to combat the PMS Monster?

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