I have become obsessed with chocolate, or I should say, cacao. It all started at Easter time when I made a chocolate cream pie for dessert for my family. Well, given that pastry cream is my all time hands down, favorite food on earth, you can imagine the internal strife this pie caused me, given that I couldn't eat it. NO I didn't even lick the spoon. It wasn't easy, but luckily that same weekend I started reading about super foods. Foods that are super dense with nutrients.
I have explored these foods in the past. I once dabbled with chia seeds, and then went through a goji berry phase, but never realized that chocolate held superfood status. Now that I have discovered cacao, I am committed. And I have since forgotten all about that heavy, lethargy inducing, unhealthy chocolate cream pie. Cacao, and other delicious super foods, will now be a regular part of my healthy diet.
Cacao is a raw form of chocolate, and is one of the most anti oxidant rich foods on the planet. It also provides minerals such as, iron, calcium, and magnesium, as well as mood enhancing amino acids. Magnesium to calm us-mood enhancing amino acids- and delicious flavor-now that's a superfood. No wonder we all crave it. Eating cacao, as opposed to cocoa or chocolate, which have been roasted, is the best way to retain all of its nutritional benefits (and of course without the added fat and sugar found in candy).
Cacao is milder in flavor than it's roasted counterparts, and it's stimulating effects are more subtle. Unlike when I eat chocolate, when I eat cacao I don't experience a spike in energy, followed by a quick decline and craving for more. It's more of a slow energy release that makes you feel relaxed, satisfied, and makes the corners of your mouth quietly turn upward into the subtlest of smiles.
I always considered myself a healthy eater, but I now realize that eating for your health takes "healthy eating" to a whole new level. It takes a deeper level of commitment, and a deeper level of understanding of what our food does for us, physically, emotionally , and spiritually. I believe it can be transformative.
The standard american diet ( or SAD as it's called) is so full of sugar, salt and other flavor enhancers that it screams at you in a way that is immediately overstimulating. This makes it impossible to notice that it has provided you with little to no nutrition, and has burdened your digestive system to the point of leaving you with less energy in the long run. A healthy diet is quiet and peaceful. It shows you it's true flavors, and provides your body with adequate nutrition and energy. But eating for your health is different. It has a subtleness to it that is intriguing, and makes you pay attention. It's hard for me to explain, because it has been over time that I have felt the shift, but I am starting to look at my food in a different way.
I have gone beyond food cravings, and have moved toward nutrient cravings. My focus now is to provide my body with life giving nutrients. I haven't given up taste, as you can see in this chocolate chia breakfast, but I have an increased awareness of how the foods I put in my body are affecting me. Maybe I can explain it by saying it is like the difference between seeing yourself as a body, and seeing yourself as an organism made up of trillions of cells. And realizing that every cell needs to be provided with the fuel (nutrition) it needs to function individually, bodily, and universally.
Eating for your health is about eating with intention. It is setting the intention to provide your body with nutrients, and to not harm the environment that we rely on for survival. It is about choosing foods first for their optimal nutrition, and then combining them for optimal taste and pleasure. And it is intentionally, providing a calm focus to the experience of eating. It is eating with complete awareness-no distractions. Above all, it is understanding the profound significance of the simple statement-you are what you eat.
Chia seeds are another superfood. They are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, and are high in antioxidants. They also provide a significant amount of fiber. Because they have no discernible taste, they can be added to almost any food for added nutrition. I like to add some to my salad dressings, and drinks. They can also be used in baking to bind together ingredients. When hydrated chia seeds form a gel around each seed, and become mucilaginous. They are the base for the recipe below.
Chocolate Strawberry Chia Pudding Parfait
For this parfait layer the chocolate chia pudding with the strawberry chia jam, and add fruit and nuts of your choice between the layers. I used sliced strawberries, bananas, and walnuts. You could also add coconut.
Chocolate chia pudding
2 c. almond milk ( or other non dairy milk)
5 T. chia seeds
1/4 c. cacoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 chopped datessmall pinch of salt
Mix the first 6 ingredients in a blender. Then adjust for sweetness by adding a bit of stevia, or honey or maple syrup. Don't make it too sweet. The fruit will add sweetness. Let this sit for several hours.
Strawberry chia jam
1 lb of strawberries washed and sliced
3 T. of chia seeds
1 tsp. of lemon juice
sweetener to taste
Mix all the ingredients in the blender. Again adding the sweetener last. Let sit for several hours.
Assemble the parfait. Don't forget the nuts, or other crunchy topping. You will want it to contrast with the (mucilaginous) texture of the chia seeds.
It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
Note: chia seeds and cacao can be found on a Amazon. Click HERE for chia seeds, or HERE for cacao powder.