Earl Grey Kombucha

Makes 2 qt (or litres)

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While I’m pretty sure I had had some kind of fermented tea during my Japan days, I can’t really be sure.

So, it has to be said that my first official introduction to fermented drinks was in culinary school.  Everyone was drinking kombucha, and everyone was making it.  Except for me.  Kombucha Brooklyn (especially) provided me with some delicious choices so I never really had to dabble in the art of bacteria breeding.  It seemed easy enough.  I just never felt the urge or desire to venture down that scary bacteria-ridden road.   Frankly, I was relieved.

Then I moved to the UAE.  Suffice it to say that there is no Kombucha Brooklyn here.  But what I did find was an incredibly friendly community of bacteria breeding foodies eager to share their knowledge and SCOBYs.  When you suddenly find yourself in a place where every assumption is challenged, every belief is toyed with, every conviction slightly to drastically changed, you realize you are a bit more capable of whatever it is you weren’t before.  So, bye-bye fear and hello bacteria.

What was I afraid of?  Well, bacteria!  What if I didn’t “grow” it right?  What if it gets moldy?  How will I know if it tastes right?  Will I get sick from a bad batch?  There’s nothing like a good experiment to put all those questions to rest.  That and support from the previously mentioned community of just as crazy as I am health nuts.  Who knew I’d fit in so well here?

So, everyone in culinary school was drinking it because it is incredibly nutritious, and it’s the same reason everyone here is, too.  It is known as ‘the immortal health elixir’ and the biggest reason is kombucha’s unique ability to detox the body.  Kombucha has many acids and enzymes beneficial to the detox process, already produced in the body.  This alleviates the work of the pancreas and liver and helps them do a better job.  Glucuronic acid (GA) is the key word here.  The main function of GA is to bind to toxins and escort them from the body.  And, the GA in kombucha is very effective.  It is even effective at eliminating several environmental toxins.  (Think plastics, pesticides, etc.)  Studies show that GA has also been linked to cancer prevention¹.  Read that sentence again because it’s amazing.

Other health benefits include a very happy digestive system.  Food and drink that have been fermented have, in a manner of speaking, been pre-digested.  The bacteria formed during this process not only aids the gut by populating it, but also helps you fully digest.  Kombucha is a true probiotic (which from the Greek means “for life”).  It helps rid your body of excess candida, helps keep allergies in control and does wonders to boost immunity.  It actually does all those things.

It starts as a quest for better health but soon you begin craving that slightly vinegary, yet subtly sweet effervescence.  Trust me, you will.

And trust me, it’s worth the experiment.  But just so you know, it’s a bit like opening Pandora’s box.  There is no end to what you will learn and no end to the myriad ways different drink and food can be fermented.  It’s a wild, bubbly ride!

You’ll need:

2 T loose Earl Grey tea (or 6 tea bags)

2 qt (or litres) water

1/2 – 3/4C organic sugar

1 Kombucha SCOBY* (SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  You can get one from a friend or if you are the first brave soul of your circle of friends, you can get a starter here or here.)

about 1C of kombucha (which will have come with the SCOBY)

2 qt glass jar (sterilized), clean kitchen towel or a couple of layers of cheese cloth and rubber bands

To make:

1.  Boil your water and remove from heat.

2.  Add tea and sugar and let steep until water is cool.  I usually let mine sit for a few hours, mostly because by the time I remember that’s how much time has passed.  Tastes great still!

3.  Add the tea to the jar and then add the 1C kombucha.  Let this mix of teas get acquainted and then introduce the scoby.

4.  Cover the jar with the kitchen towel (or cheese cloth) and secure the rubber band around the mouth of the jar.

5.  Keep the jar in a safe place where it won’t be moved or jostled, where it’s room temperature and out of direct sunlight.

6.  Let ferment for about a week, untouched.  After a week, give it a taste test to see where you are.  Don’t be surprised if another scoby has begun to form at the top of the jar.  This is good and is a sign that your kombucha is healthy.

7.  When you’ve finished about half of the kombucha, you can add another quart/litre of fresh (cooled) tea to the batch.  This is called a continuous brew.

*Disclaimer:  There are plenty of sources that recommend NOT using Earl Grey tea for kombucha because of the bergamot essential oil.  It is thought that the oil could compromise the health of the scoby.  However, many people have used Earl Grey and had successful batches and beautiful scobys.  I am now part of that list!  The beautiful thing about fermentation is experimentation!  Brew away!  And if you’ve got a great flavor working for you, please share it!

¹http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2208084?dopt=Abstract

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Culture Shock, Over Easy

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Right now I am in a state of shock at my culture shock.  I’ve traveled and lived in other countries before, but this recent move to Al Ain, the green oasis of the UAE, has jolted me to the core.  As most definitions of culture shock will attest, everything I know, believe, think, expect is being challenged.  I am WAY OUT of my comfort zone.

The thing about culture shock is that it’s a cocktail mixed with a bunch of other things. It stirs up emotions you didn’t think you had, fears that were previously unknown and prejudices you thought you were too open-minded to have.  Yet they’re all there and they come up when you least expect them to and they push you to overcome them. Everyday.

When you’re uncomfortable, you seek comfort wherever you can find it.  It may be in a stranger’s smile or a song you hear.  It may be a Starbucks you spotted or a re-run of Modern Family.  It could just be the sunrise and the sense of possibility of a new day.  That’s what it usually is for me.  That and breakfast.  On our 3rd morning at the Hilton, Claire and I went down for breakfast and were greeted by the organic section of the buffet!  Organic!  Little surprises like these go a long way.  Now that we’re “home” in our apartment, it’s a cup of tea with 2 eggs over easy over rice and sauteed spinach (at home, in the USA, it would be kale).

In the quiet morning, with a delicious breakfast, I can gather myself and prepare to start fresh, again.  It’s what’s required when you’re in the midst of culture shock because all things, large and small, are different.  And, you notice them all!  It’s also a time of slowness and when I can really watch Claire.  It has been incredibly helpful to be with a child.  Claire notices things are different (she hasn’t seen many women wearing abayas or men in dishdashes before) but she doesn’t judge anything as good or bad.  She notices and she looks (sometimes stares in a way that only kids can get away with) but then quickly returns to whatever is occupying her attention at the moment.  When she hears the prayer calls, she simply does her sign language for “music”.  Music!  That’s exactly what it is, that’s all it is.  When she hears our cab driver speaking in Urdu, she laughs.  And he usually laughs back.

Little by little the differences are overcome by the similarities.  It seems impossible now because as soon as you walk out the door everything is hard, but it happens.  I know it does because it’s happened before.  It just takes time, patience, some laughter and deep breaths and lots of the tea you’ll find below!  Then, allow yourself to be surprised and you will be.

A few days ago we went to one of the malls, (much nicer and with so many of the same stores as back home), and I spotted a woman covered head to toe in her black abaya and hijab (head scarf), but with her face visible to all.  She was also wearing TOMS, just like I was.  As they say in Vietnam, “same, same but different”.  Indeed we are.

Miracle Tea*

1/2 oz. each of dried chamomile flowers, dried lemon balm, dried catnip leaves and dried lavender flowers.  Combine all the herbs and seal in a mason jar.

To prepare:

Place 1 T of the mixture in a glass jar and cover with 1 C boiling water.  Steep for 15 minutes and ENJOY!

*This tea has helped me plenty.  It’s from Aviva Romm‘s book, Naturally Health Babies and Children.  She calls it “teething tea” which we’ve used several times and has done wonders for as well.  It’s soothing, comforting and positively dreamy.  I re-named it Miracle Tea because it is miraculously calming!  Thank you, Aviva!

Sámara Organics Market and Café

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Playa Sámara is a beautiful beach on the southwestern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.  It is an unassuming place, laid back, sleepy even but the beach (and nearby beaches, too) is nothing short of AMAZING.  The same goes for the locals in town, the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) and expats alike.

The first time we visited was nearly 8 years ago.  We loved it.  We got married there.  It’s fair to say that Sámara holds a special place in our hearts and so we promised we’d return with our first baby.

Claire loved it as much as we did; the white sand, the calm and warm waters, the Pura Vida attitude that permeates each moment.  We were happy to see that not that much had changed in 8 years.  No Club Meds just yet.  What we did find that was new was an organic café and market.  Let me reiterate with proper emotion:  An ORGANIC CAFE AND MARKET IN SAMARA!!!  I met Angelina, one of the founders, and immediately felt a kinship with her.  The kind you feel when you’re part of a community that has no boundaries.  Ours happens to be about the food we eat and our interest in making the best choices for our own health, that of our families’ and that of the planet we inhabit.  It’s about our shared understanding about the true meaning behind ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ and the responsibility we feel to feed our bodies well, to share what we know, and to respect the Earth that bears our food, all of it.  It’s a wonderful feeling to travel the world and meet people like Angelina who are making a difference, one small step at a time, to better their communities.

Sàmara Organics is a lovely market and café that serves up delicious salads, sandwiches, soups and fresh fruit and vegetable juices.  They also serve the native gallo pinto for breakfast!  It’s a foodie’s paradise tucked away in this little beach town.  I was SO grateful to Angelina and her passion for organic food especially because we had a new little eater with us.  I was also so inspired by her story.  I knew you would be too, so here is a short conversation about Sàmara Organics.

And, if you’re ever in the area, DO stop by for some delicious food and drinks and please tell Angelina we say hello.

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GG:  What was the food situation like as far as organic vs. conventional food before you started Samara Organics?

Angelina:  We moved to Samara about six years ago.  At that time we could find no organic food except in AutoMercado, 4-5 hours from here.  They had organic produce, soy products and other non-meat alternatives.  It was very exciting.  With a year or so of that we could find soy, almond, and rice milks which was a real treat.  For years we talked of opening a market to offer the products that we previously had stuffed our luggage with and smuggled down.  About two years ago I made some connections with folks from the Nosara Farmer’s Market and found locally made cheeses and organically grown produce.  I organized a mail list and started to sell it out of my car essentially with no mark up.  Just passing it along directly to other folks interested in the same.  The response was light but there were some folks.  The challenge with Samara, unlike Nosara, is our community is less affluent with less discretionary income so it was and still is a challenge to get folks to pay double for organic produce or cheese that are made without preservatives.  We really try to impress upon folks the importance of buying local – not only for the benefits of conserving our global resources but also the long term benefit of supporting a sustainable economy for our area.

GG:  What percentage of the food is locally grown/produced vs. imported?

Angelina:  Good question.  Organic produce remains a very small percentage of what is grown.  Monsanto has a foothold here and farmers can make more money by growing conventional.  We have a few imported items that we offer only to bring people in.  And, really even imported produce is a better option than some of the other snack food options with high fructose corn syrup that so many of our locals and expats turn to for a quick bite.  It is all trade offs and as one of my professors taught me…”learn to live with your contradictions”.  We don’t strive to be purists…we strive to offer healthy alternatives that support the locals that make responsible business decisions.  Our store gives us the opportunity to educate, to be there and teach and share when the light comes on about how to feel better through diet.

GG:  Are Ticos interested or aware of the organic label?

Angelina:  Very few.  The same is true for most expats.  The tourists are the ones that get it.  I am grateful for these tourists as we would not be in business without them.  We are, however, learning that we need to find different ways to reach the community because they haven’t a strong enough connection to the value of organics. Plus media gives them an out by running articles that state there are no real proven benefits of organic produce.  Please…  Also, here organic designation is prohibitively expensive for the small farmers so even if they are pesticide free they still don’t have certification.

GG:  What are the standards for the organic label in Costa Rica?

Angelina:  We have done some farming here however not to the level where we have been able to dedicate resources to understanding the certification of the law.  It remains the frontier here in Costa Rica in so many ways and cultural dynamics make it difficult at times to ascertain procedures, protocols, etc.

GG:  Who are your purveyors and how do you ensure organic practices?

Angelina:  We know of two distributors that sell organics and they have direct relationships with the famers and the produce comes with “organic” labeling.  At this stage we have not had any farm visits except for one and really the distributors are not eager to share their sources as there is more demand than there is produce to go around.

GG:  What are your biggest challenges?  Especially being in a foreign country!

Angelina:  Costs.  Costs continue to rise here as the popularity of this beautiful country increases.  Fixed income retirees don’t want to spend the money and many are often fixed in their beliefs so they don’t see the value.  We are grateful for the toursits but really our biggest challenge is finding easy access to quality product at an affordable price.  We have a fantastic organic produce distributor in San Jose but it costs us $150 to get the produce to our store – this is more than we make on the order.  We usually run a loss on our produce to just bring people in and compete with conventional produce often offered by the Walmart Pali stores that have huge purchasing power.

GG:  Was there anything easy about getting started?

Angelina:  Ha, not a thing! But, super rewarding to meet people like you that get it and are so grateful that they found us and they have this choice.  Many have commented it was the one thing missing for the idyllic Samara.  This makes us very happy.  We are close to going all vegetarian and offering some raw food options but again our tiny pueblo really just isn’t ready for it.

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GG:  It’s often assumed that food is better outside of the U.S. because there are probably fewer factory farms and mono-culture farms.  Is this true for Costa Rica?  For example, is the meat better because it comes from some small farm nearby where cows are probably fed grasses, etc.?

 Angelina:  In some ways this is true as chemicals are expensive and there are many here that still do it the “old way” but just the same studies show that use of pesticides continues to grow here in CR and with that it becomes cheaper and cheaper to do the wrong thing.

GG:  How and where did you start?  How did you know the food wasn’t organically grown?

Angelina:  I have had a varied and fulfulling career.  Before I left the US I worked as an Executive Director for a nonprofit environmental education group that offered free services to kids.  I have been into the movement for a very long time and my commitment has only increased over the years.  We opened the store about a year ago and have a long way to go and big dreams but we are also becoming more realistic about what we can accomplish.  Generally if were buying produce from a store we assumed it was conventional and I think that was a safe bet.  Chemical companies are deeply engrained throughout the world and working hard to stay in business.  It is almost punishing to run against this strong infrastructure.

Cacao Rose Chai

Makes 5 C

Cacao Rose Chai

Sometimes nothing is better than a cup of chai.  It’s warm, spicy, sweet, creamy.  The blend of the spices and tea and milk (in this case coconut milk) are like a warm blanket on a cold day.  With a cup of chai, you slow down and breathe.  Literally.  According to Ayurveda, most of the spices used in chai are sattvic, or calming.  Sattva also denotes clarity, understanding and light.  Not bad for a cup of tea.

Chai is like curry.  There are a million and one ways to make it and they will vary quite a bit depending on what region you’re in.  This is exciting for 2 reasons.  First, for purists, there’s nothing like finding a traditional version…and really, it is quite special.  Second, it leaves room for plenty of interpretation and experimentation.  These recipes are made for the rest of us to get creative, to tweak and play with until they resonate with us.

I took the 2nd route and while this chai has many (not all) of the traditional spices, I decided to play with the tea.  Purists, I believe, would choose a black tea like Assam or Ceylon.  I chose Dark Obsession Chocolate Rose.  It sounds too good to be tea, and I assure you it is, but it’s still tea.  I try not to think too much about the decadent contradiction and just enjoy it.  Sometimes the best things just can’t be explained.  This special blend comes from Marie Belle’s in NYC.  If you can, go there.  It’s a treat like no other.  (So are gifts from there=) )

As for the nutritional aspect of chai:

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices in history with uses in the Middle East, China and the Mediterranean.  Not surprisingly, it enjoys a long list of medicinal properties as well.  Cinnamon is known to improve circulation, counter congestion and treat nausea.  It is also a stimulant and an analgesic.  Cinnamon also aids in the absorption of nutrients, so feel free to use this spice in your savory dishes, too!

Star Anise is popular in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking.  Medicinally, it’s commonly used to aid digestion, as a diuretic and for pain relief.  It also does wonders for coughs.

Clove is a particularly strong spice that is also a digestive aid and treats nausea.  Cloves have pain-relieving and antiseptic attributes.  “Clove is also used to synergistically increase the potency of other herbal blends.”¹

Black Peppercorn was once the most important spice in world trade.  It is commonly used to support circulation, stimulate the flow of energy² and improve metabolism.

Cardamom is special.  Rebecca Wood describes it as tasting like lemon zest and eucalyptus.  She also says that cardamom acts as an antidote to the stress caused by coffee on the adrenal glands, which in my opinion makes chai a great substitution…if that’s what you’re looking for.  In addition to being a digestive aid, easing coughs, congestion and breathlessness and benefiting the lungs, kidneys and heart, cardamom also makes you happy!

Black tea isn’t often considered for its health benefits, especially not next to its more famous relative, green tea.  Still, it has some health properties to boast such as; inhibiting tumor cells, being high in antioxidants and strengthening the immune system.

I encourage you to get creative with your own recipes.  Maybe you like more cloves or perhaps you’ll try a green tea chai?  If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, definitely add some fresh ginger.  Whatever you choose, I assure you that this cup of chai will get you to slow down and smell the roses.

Enjoy, friends!

You’ll need:

6 C water

10-12 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

4-5 black peppercorns

1 star anise

3 whole cloves

2 T Dark Obsession Chocolate Rose

To make:

1. Bring water and all spices to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Covered, let spices steep for 10 minutes.  Then, return to a boil and promptly remove from heat.

3. Add tea and let steep for 5-7 minutes

4. Strain and discard tea and spices.  Let tea cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.  Unless you’re having a cup immediately, then prepare as per instructions below, or to taste!

To serve:

1. While tea is settling, bring 3/4 C of milk (dairy or non-dairy) to a simmer and add to tea.

2. Add 2 T maple syrup or sweetener of choice.  (Optional-you could also add 1t vanilla extract.)

3. Serve in individual cups and ENJOY!

¹http://www.chai-tea.org/benefits.html

²Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

Avocado Mango Mint Smoothie

Makes 4 C

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about the amazing avocado.  I’ve alluded to it here and there, but finally it’ll get the attention it deserves.  Before I go on however, a little note of encouragement for all of you who don’t love avocados.  There was a time when I was with you.  I didn’t appreciate it, I didn’t get it.  It’s a fruit but it isn’t sweet or tart or refreshing, in the way you normally think of refreshing.  No, it’s creamy, rich, buttery even, and it’s subtle earthy flavor has been described as creamy pistachio.  Not sure I would agree actually, because the sublimity of its flavor is truly unique.  But one day I decided to give it another try and well, there was no turning back.  It’s been a love affair ever since.  I could write avocados a love letter, a poem or even an avocado song.  I want to, but I won’t.  Let’s get down to why avocados are so good and good for you.

HOLY FAT!  Literally and figuratively.  Avocados are super fatty and it may as well be holy.  In fact, 85% of its calories are fat derived and all of it contributes to anti-inflammatory properties.  (Remember that most illnesses begin as some form of inflammation, so this is important to remember!)  Half of that fat comes in the form of oleic acid and this goody helps our digestive tract produce transport molecules that helps increase absorption of fat soluble nutrients like carotenoids.¹  Good news indeed!  Avocados are involved in benefiting our hearts and cardiovascular systems.  They play a role in fighting cancer, too.  According to Rebecca Katz, glutathione, a combo of amino acids, acts as “an internal vacuum cleaner” escorting carcinogens away from healthy cells and out of the body.   The most interesting thing I’ve read is that avocados actually increase oxidative stress in cancer cells and prepares them for apoptosis, or cellular death.¹  So, they nurture our healthy cells by improving inflammation and oxidative stress while at the same time killing off cancer cells?!  Good job, avocados!  Oh, they also regulate blood sugar levels (another benefit of the holy fat) and they are great for the skin.  Added bonus, I’d say!

No wonder I eat 1-2 avocados weekly.  They’re delicious in salads, in sandwiches, over rice and beans, with eggs, in smoothies!  (I LOVE smoothies especially during these hot months.)  Even Claire has joined in on the avocado obsession.  Like mother, like daughter!

You’ll need:

1/2 hass avocado

2 1/2 C frozen mango

10-15 largish mint leaves, chopped (I like the smoothie on the minty side so I went with 15)

1 C water

1/2 C coconut milk

1 T ground flax seeds

1 T agave nectar

1 T coconut oil

1 t freshly squeezed lime juice

To make:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until blissfully smooth.  You won’t need ice unless you use fresh fruit, in which case, add 4 ice cubes.

2. Enjoy!

¹http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5 (There’s thorough info here on the fats in avocados that is very interesting!)

Blueberry Sunflower Smoothie

Makes 4C

Sunflower milk?  Once upon a time I might have been skeptical of this, almond milk, hemp milk, etc.  I had already had my prejudices against soy milk and it extended to all milk “substitutes”.  Then I got educated.  It’s amazing how it often takes the smallest things to open your mind and your world.

So, when I ran into Steve at Whole Foods with Claire in tow, I was excited.  He was giving samples of Sunsational sunflower seed milk.  (I was so intrigued by this non-dairy beverage that I failed to notice that Steve was both the founder and creator of this milk.)  It was tasty and creamy.  It reminded me a bit of cashew milk because it was quite rich.  Both the original and vanilla flavor were good.  Unfortunately, they both contain evaporated cane juice.  Steve told me that they are working on a non-sweetened version as well as an organic option.  I’m looking forward to both!

Seeds and nuts are little, nutrient dense wonders.  Sunflower seeds are full of health-supportive goodies, starting with anti-oxidants.  Steve boasted that one serving of this milk contains more anti-oxidants than the same serving size of green tea.  Bad news for free radicals, good news for us.  They’re a great source of fiber, which does wonders for our digestive system.  According to Rebecca Wood, sunflower seeds have more protein than beef!¹  Great for vegetarians to know and to use when questioned about their protein intake!  These little sun seeds (don’t they look like they come from the sun!) are a good source of Vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and several of the B-complex.  The last bit is about phytosterols which are compounds found in plants that are of similar chemical structure to cholesterol.  High enough consumption of this goody reduces blood levels of cholesterol, boosts immunity and plays a preventative role in some cancers.²

These are pretty good reasons to get sunflower seeds into your diet.  Throw some onto your salads, in your trail mixes or better yet, whip up this smoothie.  Your taste buds thank you in advance.

You’ll need:

1.5 C Sunflower milk

2 dates, chopped

1 T cashew butter

2 C + 2-3 T blueberries (fresh or frozen are ok, though I only had fresh ones)

1 T chia seeds

1 T fresh squeezed orange juice

4-5 ice cubes (if using fresh fruit only)

To make:

1. Place chopped dates and sunflower milk in a blender and blend until dates are broken up pretty well.  Add the cashew butter and blend again until smooth-ish.

2. Add remaining ingredients (reserve the 2-3T of blueberries) and blend away until you’re left with smooth deliciousness.

3. Garnish with remaining blueberries to add a touch of gourmet to this nutritious and delicious smoothie.

4. Enjoy

¹ Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

² http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=57 (There is also great info on the role Vitamin E plays in the body.)

Frozen Hot Chocolate

Makes 4 C

Frozen hot chocolate, like fried ice cream, really does a number on us left brainers.  We analyze and over-analyze to make sense of this apparent contradiction.  Not until we let our tastebuds take over do we then realize such analyses are unnecessary.  It’s decadent, it’s rich, it’s delicious.  Who cares if it’s an anomaly.

Chocolate is a gift from the gods.  No, really, it is a gift from Central and South America and was regarded by the great Maya and Aztec as a favored bitter drink valuable enough to be their currency.  It was the Swedes who coined it “theobroma”, food of the gods, in Greek.¹  There are many wonderful things about cacao or cocoa.  It is anti-inflammatory and it’s got delicious flavonoids that  seem to have chemo-protective effects.²  It’s also high on the anti-oxidant list, boasting around 3-4 more times than green tea.  (The darker the chocolate, the better!)  As for minerals, chocolate grants us copper (important for heart health and iron absorption), magnesium, potassium, and iron.³ All these goodies contribute to cardiovascular health, lowered hypertension, and increased blood flow (read, lowered risk of plaque build-up).  Oh, it was also widely considered an aphrodisiac and overall makes us feel good, happy, giddy even.  Good thing chocolate got around!

The caveat is, don’t OD on it!  Quantity destroys quality in anything!  There is still theobromine (caffeine relative) in chocolate which can be irritating to the GI tract, cause anxiety or insomnia and hyperactivity in kiddies.

One last note; spontaneous acts of love have been known to occur after consumption of this elixir.  Have fun with that!

You’ll need:

1 can organic coconut milk (whole fat)

1 cinnamon stick

2 T organic (fair trade preferable) cacao powder

2 T agave nectar

1 bar (approx 3 oz.) organic, fair trade dark chocolate (I had 73%), roughly broken

5-6 ice cubes

Ground cinnamon, for garnish

To make:

1. Heat coconut milk and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over low heat until the edges start to bubble.  Stir in cacao powder and agave nectar and let the edges begin to bubble again.  Remove cinnamon stick.

2. Place dark chocolate bar in a separate bowl and pour hot coconut/cacao mix over chocolate to melt.  Stir well.  Let cool.  (Or if you have time, you can let it cool and then refrigerate for up to 1 day.)*

3. In a blender, add hot chocolate and ice cubes and blend until frothy.  Serve with coconut cream and some ground cinnamon.

4. Enjoy!

*If you put hot chocolate in the fridge, it will thicken quite a bit.  It’s like a ganache.  Simply scrape into the blender and add water (coconut water would be ideal) to the consistency you want.  Go slow so that it doesn’t become too thin.

¹ Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

² Rebecca Katz, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

³ http://www.allchocolate.com/health/basics/