You know those things you love and are attached to and have a hard time letting go of? Maybe because, well addiction or nostalgia or you just can’t imagine your life without it. Well I’m like that with chocolate. Every sworn abstinence just leads me back even stronger, pulls me closer like a crazy lover full of desire and ecstasy. And I like it. I love it. And I won’t stop because now I know I can have it as good medicine rather than guilty pleasure. Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty of pleasure, just without the guilt.
CACAO VS COCOA
Good chocolate makes all the difference. It’s certainly not like the Halloween candy bar stash that makes you high at night and very very low in the morning, or the processed hot cocoa with fake-o marshmallows on top that warms you up but leaves you wanting. So what exactly is ‘good chocolate’? Its raw and real, unprocessed, fair trade and organic.
The difference between cocoa and cacao is very simple. Cacao is the raw bean that has been fermented, cocoa is the processed cacao bean turned into powdered cocoa through heat. Cacao is raw and cocoa is what the bean is called after being heated and processed. So? The raw fermented cacao is FULL of antioxidants. Unbelievably 40 times higher than that of blueberries. Cocoa is roasted and has about 60% less antioxidant goodness, its basically been processed out.
Raw cacao is also choc-full (adorable pun intended!) of magnesium, in fact its the highest whole food source of magnesium which is a brain and heart super-food. Something I only recently found out is that raw cacao has a much higher and more bio-available (easier to digest and metabolize) calcium content than cow’s milk. Contrary to what we think we know about cacao is that it actually helps with weight loss, and stabilizing blood sugar. This makes it good for those with type 2 diabetes. It’s packed with coumarin (also found in cinnamon) and chromium which imbues it with these health-giving benefits.
The main reason we all eat this Theobroma ‘food of the Gods’ so passionately is that it makes us feel good. Cacao has an amino acid phenethylamine or PEA, the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for that feeling of LOVE as it releases the pleasure-inducing endorphins. In Ayurveda cacao is an aphrodisiac or rasayana, boosting immunity by restoring the reproductive tissues and bringing SOMA or bliss to the mind and emotional body.
A DAILY DIET OF GUILT-FREE CACAO
So how best to get this good stuff into the daily diet and reduce cravings for the not-so-good stuff? Recently at Spice Lounge, an event I offer in Vancouver, we got to know the cacao bean a little more intimately and made a spice blend Gomasala where the star was cacao. This blend with a base of sesame seeds is for sprinkling lavishly as a finishing spice on avocado-toast, scrambled eggs, popcorn with ghee, soups, roasted veggies, chicken, fish…. really it adds nutritional enhancement and divine flavour to food of all kinds.
Included in our Spice Lounge was a cacao chai that can be enjoyed as a morning elixir or late afternoon drink to reduce sugar cravings. We had it in the evening and the group were all euphoric, there was a tangible mood of luscious love in the air. This cacao chai would make the most delicious holiday drink with whipped cream or frothed almond milk and perhaps a splash of ginger liqueur
CACAO SPICE MOON CHAI
Makes 8 cups.
This heavenly cacao chai is rich in antioxidants and digestive spice medicines. Cacao is the star ingredient of this chai and can be enjoyed any time of day as its tea base is the herbal but full bodied rooibos (red bush).
Rooibos is high in antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory and known to relieve stress and nervous tension. Along with the antioxidant, mind-relaxing and pleasure-inducing benefits of cacao this is a beverage for everyone during the cooler season and the busy holiday season.
4 sticks Cinnamon
2 TBSP Cardamom pods
1 tsp whole Black Peppercorns
1 tsp ground Nutmeg
2 TBSP Cacao nibs
3 TBSP Cacao powder
1 tsp dried Ginger
4 Rooibos teabags or 4 tsp loose Rooibos tea.
Honey to taste
Pre-toast all the whole spices together in a skillet (this optional step releases the aromatic molecules).
Gently crack the spices in a mortar and pestle or grinder, chunky style.
In a medium sized pot add 10 cups of water with spices and slowly bring to a boil.
Add the rooibos tea. Simmer together on very low for at least an hour to infuse the spices.
Add the dried ginger and cacao powder (and nutmeg if you are using ground) and stir well. Allow to steep for another 15 minutes.
Turn off heat and allow to steep for at least another few hours. This gives a deeper, richer chai.
Strain into a big glass jar to store in refrigerator or pour into mugs ready to enjoy.
Add honey (I like it sweet and spicy so I add 1 heaped tsp per cup)
Top with optional whipped cream or frothed almond milk and a dusting of cinnamon or cayenne.
Enjoy your Cacao Spice Moon Chai and the soulful magic of this Winter Solstice season. I’d love to hear how you adorned and enjoyed your personal Cacao Chai!
YOUR SPICE ORACLE FOR THE WINTER SOLSTICE SEASON
Pulled by The Spice Mistress
With Love and Fragrant blessings as always,
The Spice Mistress
Hello Beautiful Soul.
I was absolutely over the moon to receive in the mail today this most cherished bottle of Middle East Peace perfume as a gift from The 7 Virtues Perfume Company .
This grand delivery of aromatic peace came about through a synchronistic connection on Instagram noting how the three main ingredients are a beautiful Tridoshic blend (with hydrating sweet grapefruit for Vata, cooling lime for Pitta, and energizing basil for Kapha). The Sweetie Grapefruit essential oil is from Israel and the Lime and Basil from Iran. How profound that the aromatic plant medicines are being called to heal relationships on our planet when stewarded by awake souls through conscious business practices.
When beauty aligns it manifests in the most mystical and tangible ways – for the good of all.
I just LOVE women entrepreneurs and companies who are tuned in and inspired. They give so generously to uplift others with their vision. Thank you Barb and The 7 Virtues, I’m beyond delighted and mesmerized by your perfumes and their stories and so grateful for your gorgeous gift. I LOVE it.
Barbara Stegemann is the founder of The 7 Virtues and has been on my radar since I watched how she took The Dragons Den investors by storm with her incredible heartwarming and authentic story of friendship, and radical social change through business. My nose, always interested in sniffing out aromatic beauty, was smitten.
Barb started a perfume company with the vision of inspiring peace, and rebuilding and empowering communities through the procuring of essential oils from war torn countries such as Haiti, Afghanistan, and Rwanda. The company mission is Make Perfume Not War. That struck a note with me on so many levels. The documentary of the same name is a must-watch.
Barb’s book The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, a woman’s guide to living & leading in an illogical world, is a must-read for all women in business wanting to inspire, take action, and stand for social justice and change. I love that it is deeply about self-care and self-empowerment. Barb’s book lit me up and inspired me in my own practice and business.
The perfumes are exquisite – Afghanistan Orange Blossom, Noble Rose of Afghanistan, Vetiver of Haiti, Patchouli of Rwanda, and Lisa ray Jasmine of India. These uplifting perfumes are all without phthalates, parabens or sulfates. This is goosebumpy on many levels. Good for people, the plants, and the planet.
You can find Barb’s book, The 7 Virtues perfumes and about the powerful work they are doing here.
I’m relishing my gorgeous perfume which feels like a sensual refreshing Summer breeze. It feels like peace.
THE 7 VIRTUES (OF A PHILOSOPHER QUEEN)…as per Barb’s book
LOOKING FOR INNER PEACE?
The main ingredients in the 7 Virtues Middle East Peace Perfume captured my attention from an Ayurvedic perspective. Bright Juicy citrus fruits of Grapefruit and Lime with pungent Basil (or Tulsi which is holy Basil) have great benefits to the health of our body.
Basil/Tulsi is in a class of adaptogenic herbs considered one of the primary herbal medicines for restoring harmony and balance to the mind. In Ayurvedic as well as Chinese medicine it is revered as an herb that is a rasayana or Shen-tonic which means it nourishes the spirit, and has a powerful restorative effect on the nervous system.
In other words, P E A C E.
GRAPEFRUIT ESSENTIAL OIL
Feel juicy Vata! Uplifting and hydrating, soothing to the nervous system and clarifying to the mind.
LIME ESSENTIAL OIL
Feel refreshed Pitta! An alkaline restorative tonic that reduces acidity. Restores energy when feeling burn-out.
BASIL ESSENTIAL OIL
Feel expansive Kapha! Energizing, clearing. Basil clears congestion in lungs, eliminates stagnancy in the tissues.
This aromatic refreshing triad of essential oils are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. The combined effect brings a sense of inner peace and wellbeing as they act as a restorative tonic to all the doshas.
FINALLY THE DIVINE ROSE JAM RECIPE I PROMISED
1 cup fresh rose petals washed and dried so no water remains on petals.
2-3 cups coconut sugar.
1/4 cup honey.
1 TBSP toasted and ground cardamom seeds (not pods).
1 TBSP fresh ginger juice (grate 2inch piece fresh ginger and squeeeeeze the juice out with your hands)
1 tsp shatavari powder (optional)
1/2 tsp white pearl powder (optional)
METHOD: Pour all the honey into a glass bowl. On top of that, layer 1/4 cup at a time the rose petals and coconut sugar. Sprinkle a pinch of the cardamom, (and pearl and shatavari if using them) and drizzle ginger juice on each layer. Repeat until all ingredients are used. With your fingers (yes! get in there it feels amaaaazing) meld all together. Keep on melding layer into layer until rose petals have absorbed the sugar and become sticky. They will turn a deep purply pink colour. When the consistency is sticky and dense and all the rose petals have broken down enough your gulkand is ready. Keep in a well sealed mason jar out of the fridge.
Note: if you are using rose petals that are partially but not completely dried add a tsp ghee to the layers and meld in well as you blend. Eat by the teaspoon or spread on toast, add to oats etc! This is a rejuvenating jam to boost your #ojas your immunity, and to act as a restorative tonic. Such good medicine.
May your days be filled with beauty, your mind with peace, your body with freedom and your spirit with joy.
Love and fragrant blessings,
Your Spice Mistress
Bird of Paradise
Happy Valentines Day my love.
Yes, indeed this Day of Love was created and is ritualized worldwide. Even though I believe every day to be a day of LOVE how can we not engage as lovers and beloveds everywhere ceremoniously declare their love on this day.
You may not be surprised that the spices come to mind when talking of amore. Swoon-worthy aromatics have been used throughout history and in the mystical realms of myth and magic to seduce, excite, and adore. Today on this auspicious day of love allow me to entice you with a spice that according to legend has Birds of Paradise swooning to the ground. The musky and intoxicating smell is so overpowering that these magnificent birds fall blissfully from the tree. This actually may have more to do with the narcotic properties when the birds nibble on the fruits of these psychotropic gems.
NUTMEG and MACE! This duo of sensual spices is created in a lovers embrace in the womb of the fruit on the branch of the Myristica fragrans tree. Entwined in a duet of aromatic intimacy, the two-spices-in-one make a most formidable psychoactive, aphrodisiac, dream-enhancing duo. The mace sensually embracing the nutmeg with it’s exquisite red lace, as one they emerge from their succulent temple.
As for love and matters of the heart…
The twelfth century mystic Hildegard von Bingen said of this mystical spice (and includes a recipe I am most definitely going to make)…
“When a human being eats nutmeg it opens her heart, and her sense is pure, and it puts her in a good state of mind. Take nutmeg and (in the same amount) cinnamon and some cloves and grind them up. And then, from this powder and some water, make flour–and roll out some little tarts. Eat these often and it will lower the bitterness of your heart and your mind and open your heart and your numbed senses. It will make your spirit happy, purify and cleanse your mind, lower all bad fluids in you, give your blood a good tonic, and make you strong”.
Oooooooooh I cannot wait to get home and make this. After a beautiful weekend of teaching and sharing and communing at the Victoria Yoga Conference. I am certainly filled up with love and now the nutmeg/mace calls me. Of course so do the arms of my beloved after being apart for 5 days!
Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy our gift to you of the MACE Spice Deck Card below. Grate a little nutmeg and mace (if you can find this rare gem of a spice) into your food today and be sure to have a soft place to swoon onto.
With Fragrant Blessings of LOVE,
Glynn and Mel
HAPPY SPICY NEW YEAR GORGEOUS SOUL!
A most auspicious sprinkling of sweet blessings in this 2017 year!
I could not resist sharing this particular Spice Deck Card on day one of the new year. I suspect you may have a Sankalpa (sacred intention) to further raise your consciousness around what you put into your amazing body temple this year.
CINNAMON! Definitely cinnamon. Not only do I put this enchanting spice in most of my warm beverages but the other day the lid of my cinnamon shaker plopped off into my Chai along with about 4 heaping TBSP’s of cinnamon. Whoops. Oh don’t think I did not skim off the top and proceed to enjoy an intensely cinnamon-laden chai. Usually I wouldn’t have so much at one time but it was DELICIOUS and I had not even added any honey yet. Sweet enough!
I call Cinnamon the SWEET STABILIZER because it has clinical data to show this healing spice as a stabilizer of blood sugar. In a 2003 article published in the journal Diabetes Care, a 40 day study shows improvement in Type 2 Diabetes subjects fasting blood sugar levels, as well as their lipid (blood fat) levels with up to 6g cassia daily (4g is about 1 tsp). In other studies authors concluded that cinnamon is effective at improving glucose control. There is as always controversy in scientific circles around the nature of these studies regarding the type of cinnamon used and the dosage.
From an Ayurvedic perspective though it seems clear.
Cinnamon is often used in ayurvedic herbal preparations to enhance the bio-availability of other herbs. With sweet, pungent and astringent tastes it pacifies Kapha, clearing congestion from the lungs and channels of the body. For Vata it is warming and sweet, assisting digestion and boosting the immune system. Cinnamon is also used in Ayurveda to regulate blood sugar. A daily dose of 1 tsp along with other conscious eating routines contributes to the overall health of the 7 tissue layers of the body producing a vibrant OJAS or immunity.
1 tsp daily? Not hard to do. Add cinnamon to your breakfast oats, afternoon pick-me-up tonic, and evening meal.
As a restorative aphrodisiac and a spice known to “activate the light of intuition” I’m all in!
Oh yay to these gorgeous spices. Take a read of the cinnamon card below and bring the “sensual intrigue of this lingering scent to places where all manner of fragrant dreams reside”.
Fragrant New Year Blessings,
Glynn (Spice Mistress) and Mel (Cinnamon Girl!)