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!
The last couple of months have been a mandala of madness. A stunning trip to Iceland, the launch of the first Spice Lounge, and my teaching schedule starting up again, along with some surfacing of stuff I imagined already resolved. And then there is the enduring thread of empathy with the suffering of others in the world. But the real madness has been in the mind. There have been days of digging into the terrifying darkness while simultaneously reaching with great hope for the light. It has been nourishing and painfully heartbreaking all at once while the to-do list looms as a provocative reminder that I will never get it done.
All around me I observe my close community experiencing this too. With years of embracing Ayurvedic self-care rituals, it is comforting to know that devotion to feeling good through these practices pays off. They soothe and help navigate us through dark moments. My go-to soothers (surprise!) are the spices and aromatic plant medicines. Grinding out resistance to change, embedded habits, or anger with a family issue really works! Try grinding down big chunks of dried orange peel or powdering whole star anise or tenacious juniper berries with your mortar and pestle. It’s a workout!
The Uplifting Perfume of Hope
By sticking with the process…poof…’suddenly’ you have a workable, edible, easy-to-digest ingredient for your spice blend. Easy to swallow. And divinely aromatic. On releasing the volatile aromatic molecules you have breathed in the good medicine. It’s alchemical. The same goes for working through a difficult problem or emotion. Process allows release of anger, doubt, pain, and stinky thoughts. It releases the volatile aromatic molecules of light and allows you to inhale the uplifting perfume of hope. What a relief to release our balled-up essence and then pray. In deep meditation and prayer we can take the goodies that have come up through process and transmute them into love in the hands of the Divine.
Spice Lounge attracts those who understand the benefit of community and have caught a whiff of the sweet nourishment of process. We grind, meld, blend, laugh, share stories, recipes, and feelings as the spices, seeds, and aromatic oils wave magic over our gathering. Together we create a phenomenal spice blend to use in the month ahead and most likely work out some serious sticky stuff in a delicious way. The spice oracles encourage us with food for thought and our journey home after feels lighter, inspired, and a lot less insane.
The Wise Counsel of an Enchanting Spice Blend
My inspiration for Spice Lounge came out of both the dark and the light. The medium of aromatic botanical wisdom propels me with great passion into the kitchen to witness the magnificence of the creative process. Perhaps I will whip up a batch of something wild to share with the tribe of seekers who love the wise counsel of an enchanting spice blend and the simple therapy of a sweet ‘n spicy chai.
I hope your process is bringing you that release and inspiration through kitchen magic, art, dance, music or words. Whatever your good medicine, stay with it and if you are in the hood, please join us for Spice Lounge. Cacao is the star ingredient for December’s aromatic spice blend.
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
Twelve Spice Solstice Blend
Hello Sunshine. Happy Summer Solstice 2017!
DO YOU KNOW THE NAMES OF THE SUN AND WHY THEY IMPACT YOUR DAILY WELLBEING?
If you’ve ever taken a yoga class (and I’m 99.9% sure that you have!), you’ll have practiced at some point SURYANAMASKAR, the sun salutation. You may know that this health-giving yoga practice actually has 12 names to salute the sun and each one is specific to each part of this life-giving yoga flow.
This morning as I woke up to the first day of Summer, the first thing that popped into my head was “Salutations to the Sun”. The second thing was “ohmigosh that is going to be my Solstice Spice Blend.” I originally was going to make a Solstice Rose Spice Blend and I had already harvested, washed and dried the rose petals and they were ready. I knew EXACTLY where these would go in my 12 Spice Solstice blend. Beauty! Roses are all about beauty.
I was on fire. I jumped out of bed and went to gather my spices. Twelve spices for 12 Sun salutations. Yes, perfect. Now to tune in and listen to which spice aligns with what name. It was so easy because the spices speak to me (seriously tho’) and this all happened through a deep relationship of listening I’ve been cultivating with them for many years.
First I had to refresh my memory and chant the full Suryanamaskar before getting started.
It was so completely fascinating to me as I began to chant each one and remember the meanings of the names matching them to a specific spice. The qualities and actions of the spices harmonize with the names of the Sun to create this nourishing, enlivening spice blend. A digestive tonic activating the fire God Agni, stimulating digestion, nourishing all tissues, bringing illumination and pleasure and adorning your food.
The 12 Names of Surya the Sun God Agni, and the companion spices.
- Om Mitraya namah: Salutations to Him who is affectionate to all
FENNEL: The Friend of all.
Fennel is tridoshic and good for all digestive issues. Good digestion=happiness.
- Om Ravaye namah: Salutations to Him who is the cause for change
CARDAMOM: Praised by all.
Cardamom is a warming sweet spice that gently enkindles the digestive fire and sweetens the breath.
- Om Suryaya namah: Salutations to Him who inspires movement
STAR ANISE: The Guiding light to all.
Star anise blasts through congestion in the micro channels of the body making way for light.
- Om Bhanave namah: Salutations to the One who diffuses light into everything
ROSE: The Bestower of beauty.
Rose reduces inflammation in the body and brings love and beauty to the mind.
- Om Khagaya namah: Salutations to Him who moves across the sky
SALT: Stimulator of the senses.
Salt is townifying to the system and enhances the flavour in foods, herbs and spices.
- Om Pushne namah: Salutations to Him who nourishes and sustains all.
SESAME SEED: The Nourisher of all.
Sesame seeds nourish the deeper tissue layers of the body and are grounding and fortifying.
- Om Hiranyagarbhaya namah: Salutations to Him who contains everything
COCOA: The Light in the Spiritual Heart.
The flavanols in cocoa ease depression, are antioxidants and bring pleasure to life, increasing healthy longevity.
- Om Marichaya namah: Salutations to Him who’s rays destroy ignorance.
BLACK PEPPER: The Destroyer of Disease.
Black pepper is a potent digestive, helping other foods and medicines to become bioavailable. Decongestant.
- Om Adityaya namah: Salutations to Him who is God of gods.
COCONUT: The One who inspires.
Coconut is deeply nourishing as a healthy bioavailable fat. Boosts the immune system, heals the skin.
- Om Savitre namah: Salutations to the One who produces light.
GINGER: The Purifier.
Ginger is a digestive, aids in the assimilation of nutrients and other herbs and spices.
- Om Arkaya namah: Salutations to The Beloved.
TURMERIC: The Radiant One.
Turmeric is called the ONE MEDICINE. Anti-inflammatory, blood and liver purifier.
- Om Bhaskaraya namah: Salutations to The One who Shines so we may Shine.
SAFFRON: The Illuminator.
Saffron pacifies Pitta and excess heat in the body. Revitalizes the reproductive system. Aphrodisiac.
12 SPICE SOLSTICE RECIPE
This aromatic sweet, salty, spicy, solar spice blend will bring great rasa/taste to your food and innumerable health benefits to your body, aiding digestion and uplifting the heart. Sprinkle lavishly on all your foods from popcorn to salads to veggies to grains to avocado toast.
Individually toast each spice until the aromatic seeds begin to pop. Watch the coconut, it toasts quickly and will be ready when it turns a light caramel colour. Do not toast the turmeric, salt, ginger or saffron.
Individually toast and grind (crack the seeds unless specified so they are textured and not completely powdered)
1 TBSP Fennel seed, 1 TBSP cardamom seeds (not the pods), 1-2 whole star anise well ground, 1/2 cup dried rose petals (to make 2 TBSP ground petals), 1 TBSP salt, 1 cup sesame seeds, 2 TBSP cocoa nibs, 1 TBSP Black Pepper, 1/2 cup desiccated unsweetened coconut (no need to grind), 1 TBSP ground ginger, 1 TBSP ground turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp saffron.
Grind each spice while chanting the correlating name of the sun. Pour into a bowl.
Meld all 12 spices together while chanting the 12 names of the sun.
Sprinkle lavishly. Enjoy as the potent solar energy imbues your food and life with pleasure and illuminates your healing capacity. You are radiant as the sun. The seeds know this and they are here to remind you.
Let me know how you are enjoying your blend. Inspire the community and share photos of your Solstice blend on Facebook. You can eat this Tridoshic blend through the Summer season.
Fragrant Solstice Blessings,
This full moon. Promising to pull from the depths our everything.
A spice blend, committed and complex, imbued with the black gold of Nigella Sativa.
Do you know this spice? It excavates to the depths anything holding back the treasure of good health.
And with the colour of a moonless night it works in the shadows to heal.
Intriguing with the common name of black cumin.
There is nothing common about this aromatic spice medicine.
Illuminated by the power of the full flower moon, it shines along with the others.
Cardamom, sesame, cayenne and paprika. Turmeric, walnuts, hemp nut, white pepper and salt.
A masala to celebrate the Scorpio May Moon.
To adorn and empower your food with lunar magic
elevating the vibration of your creative expression.
Sprinkle lavishly. You will see.
FULL FLOWER MOON MASALA RECIPE
1 cup Sesame seeds
1/2 cup ground Nigella Sativa seeds (or 3/4 cup whole seeds)
1 TBSP Cardamom seeds (not the pods)
1 tsp ground Paprika
1 tsp ground Turmeric
1 tsp whole White Pepper
1/2 tsp ground Cayenne
1/4 cup Hemp nuts/seeds
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1 tsp Himalayan salt
Toast the sesame seeds and ‘crack’ them in a mortar and pestle to maintain the texture. Do not grind to a powder or paste. I like ’em chunky style! Toast the other whole seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds individually being careful not to burn them. You will know they are ready when the aromatic molecules have been released (you will smell it!). Grind spices and nuts and add to the sesame seeds. Add the powdered spices and salt. Meld together and keep in an airtight glass jar or tin. Sprinkle lavishly until the next full moon.
Delicious over roasted veggies, salads, sandwiches and of course the ever-popular avocado toast with a splash of olive oil and balsamic. YUM!
NIGELLA SATIVA BLACK SEED BENEFITS: (from published bio-research)
- Analgesic (Pain-Killing)
- Liver Protection
And these are just to name a few. Try this peppery rich spice and let me know what you create!
May your Full Moon creativity blossom and manifest from the full deep dark, your wildest dreams.
With Love and Fragrant Blessings,
The Spice Mistress
ps. In my AromaDosha Blueprint online learning experience you will learn about these spice medicines and how to bring them and the aromatic plant essences into your daily nourishment. You get to customize your own Ayurvedic Blueprint and understand your relationship to these healing treasures for a transformative self-care practice you will love. (Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit. ALL IN!)