Cacao: Real, Raw & Spiced

Cacao: Real, Raw & Spiced

Cacao Spice ChaiYou 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.

Cacao Beans in pod

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.

Cacao Spice Moon Gomasala

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 Chai whipped creamCACAO 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.

 

INGREDIENTS

4 sticks Cinnamon
2 TBSP Cardamom pods
6 Cloves
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

METHOD

Pre-toast all the whole spices together in a skillet (this optional step releases the aromatic molecules).CACAO SPICE MOON
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

Spice Oracles

 

With Love and Fragrant blessings as always,
The Spice Mistress
Glynnis xox

 

 

Spice Lounge and Grinding Out the Dark

Spice Lounge and Grinding Out the Dark

Cacao Moon Spice Lounge

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!

Spice oracle meditationThe 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 BlendSpice Lounge

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.

 

Fragrant Blessings,
Glynnis
The Spice Mistress
XOX