Why all the chocolate.
When people I meet, friends, family, my clients hear about my chocolate making venture, they are surprised at first. After all, I’m a health/weight loss/fitness coach, I should be making green juices or something, right? Why all the chocolate all of a sudden?
A little bit of history. My history. Chocolate history.
Chocolate didn’t use to be a candy as we know it today.
Did you know, by the way, that most candy-chocolate, that you find at a store, the most frequently bought in US “chocolate”, can not even be called chocolate, according to EU standards, that define, that chocolate needs to have at least 20% cocoa? (Most candy bars like Mars or Snickers do not have that much cocoa)
Now back to real chocolate.
Fake chocolate aside, chocolate did not always have sugar in it. Mayan and Aztecs started using cacao beans as a medicinal and ritual religious drink. They even had a festival dedicated to cacao god. Cacao was considered to be an elite drink, that helped shamans to connect to gods easier, that helped to fortify any religious offering or procedure. Cacao beans’ powder, cacao butter — the only essential parts of chocolate, were used for centuries as medicine for so many purposes.
Not only was chocolate used for ritual purposes but it was avidly used for medicinal reasons as well. Healing and preventative medicines as well as a tool for administering foul-tasting medicines were the two primary medicinal uses for the chocolate. Ancient Aztec sources can trace the use of the chocolate as a medical tool. Sources include the Badianus Manuscript, the Princton Codex and the Florentine Codex.
The Florentine Codex (1590 AD) contained an enormous list of medical uses for chocolate. It was prepared by priest Bernardino de Sahagun from Spain who lived and worked in the ‘New Spain’ for 60 years, collecting vital medicinal information regarding the use of chocolate for the body both internally and externally (Dillinger et al. 2000). Chocolate lessens agitation (Quelus 1730, 51), reduces angina and asthma (Villanueva y Francesconi, 1890, 231 and Hughes 1672, 153–154), reduces cancer (Villanueva y Francesconi, 1890, 239) and has a calming affect (Brillat-Savarin 1825, 100). It reduces emaciation (Hernandez 1577, 305), improves energy (Stubbe 1662, 3), relieves hoarseness (Quelus 1730, 76), reduces fever (Hernandez 1577, 305) and quenches thirst (Quelus 1730, 46).
It is also known to clean the teeth (Dillinger et al 2000, 2061s); of course modern-day dentists may disagree. The increase in sexual appetite, fertility and abetted longevity were other benefits of the chocolate. It is stated that Montezuma, prior to visiting his grand harem, would consume up to 50 goblets of a hot chocolate drink to ensure a suitable visit to each member in the group (Aguilera 1985, 119 and Dillinger et al. 2000, 2062s). Another benefit is that of consuming cacao-tree bark. It assists in reducing abdominal pain (Morton, 1981, 556–557). Externally, cacao was helpful in soothing burns, bronchitis and in disinfecting cuts. One can facilitate childbirth by eating the fruit pulp of the cacao pod. Even the leaves of the cacao tree act as antiseptics for external wounds (Morton, 1981, 556–557). Aztec soldiers marching off to battle were often given chocolate beverages to fortify and sustain them during battle (chocolate.org, Rissolo per comm. 2008).
Sugar was never a part of any of that! Sugar was never a part of chocolate back then. Chocolate was consumed as a drink most often, prior to invention in Europe in 1847 of the first chocolate bar. Spices, vanilla included, were often added to chocolate drinks. It had natural bitter taste, it wasn’t sweet. And yes, it probably was not that enjoyable, as it is today, when it comes to taste.
And it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today at first, when Europeans discovered cacao and chocolate.
Until sugar was added to it.
Until the process of making chocolate into all kinds of sweet candy was discovered.
And then medicinal properties of chocolate were forgotten. Chocolate officially became just another candy. Favorited by so many of us. Yours truly included.
But the power of chocolate, healing power, is still there, and more healing properties are being discovered with the help of tools of modern science.
“Another study showed that while eating lots of fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, there was also a similar relationship found with cocoa, a “naturally polyphenol-rich food.” Intervention studies strongly suggested that cocoa has several beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, such as lowering of blood pressure, improving vascular function and glucose metabolism, and reducing platelet aggregation and adhesion.”
There are so many great properties of cacao beans!
Better digestion, better sex, better cognitive functions and mental performance, fights tooth decay and skin cancer, restores your metabolism and prevents sunburns, improves kidney function and stimulates bowel movements, reduces insulin resistance, gives you shiny hair and strong nails, gives you loads of energy and eliminates fatigue…
And all, that is bad about chocolate, is sugar and other harmful additives, that make chocolate cheaper and more shelf-long-lasting. We traded health for sugar and increased shelf life.
I’ve been always passionate about chocolate! Since I was a kid. I could eat chocolate by itself instead of food all day long.
Once, on my birthday, I even asked my parents to buy me nothing, but a lot of chocolate. They did. I ended up eating 1.7 kg of chocolate on that birthday. It killed my cravings for chocolate for a while. But not for long. And it never killed my passion for this food of the gods. (Eating it always feels like a sacred pleasure to me)
The more I got into health, fitness, nutrition — the less chocolate I ate naturally. Because of just one thing — all the sugar. There was nothing like sugar-free chocolate back then. Nobody was interested in making this pleasurable treat into something healthy. It was accepted, that chocolate and sugar exist together. And that it’s the only way.
Well, it’s not.
And there is sugar-free chocolate on the market right now — my favorite is 100% cacao chocolate bars made from Criollo Cacao Beans, but I also love sweetened chocolate, sweetened with Stevia and other alternative, zero carb, natural sweeteners.
But there is not a lot of choice and variety!
NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
I want to make the pleasure and healthy properties of chocolate to come together again. Because now, with all the new knowledge and different natural ingredients we discover, we can make chocolate healthy and delicious. (And also vegan and good for the planet).
We can enjoy chocolate 100% guilt free.
We can eat our favorite chocolates and have our SIX PACK! YAY! AND our health.
We can eat chocolate, improving our mental and physical performance! High Five Biohackers! (And ketogenic, low carb folks!)
Dark, milk, white chocolate — whichever is your favorite!
This chocolate transformation, from junk to healthy food, means a bigger step in a new direction of food industry for me.
This chocolate transformation means food evolution for me, evolution to what food was meant to be — nourishment, nutrition, healing, support.
This chocolate transformation means that we can do better, we can make every single food on the shelf of your supermarket delicious AND good for your health.
Plus I’d love to see kids eating healthy candy, that doesn’t ruin their teeth, health, grades, giving them ADHD or something.
If you miss my Daily Bite of Health in your inbox some days, and have no idea how to live healthier today, check out my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube for Daily Bites of Health — you’ll find everything you need there to live healthier, fitter and smarter life (upgraded with your own SIX PACK).
My WOD 9/09/2017
Upgraded squats and lunges to build perfect strong legs AND stabilizers, that according to recent studies, give you the most ROI, the most increase in strength, bone density and muscle growth rate.
My staples I always have in the fridge: lots of greens and herbs, good salad dressing I love, fatty fish and sauerkraut.
Chocolate = Pleasure + Health
Chocolate = Pleasure + Fitness
Reading. Feed the right bugs and you’ll find happiness.
You don’t get healthy and stay healthy.
HEALTH is a DAILY PRACTICE. One bite at a time.
Daily Bite of Health