FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Treat Yo' Self With This Hot Chocolate
I hope you are all doing well! It is still like “winter” out there and I still have been reaching for cozy, comforting foods and drinks. An all-time favorite of mine is hot chocolate. Is there anything more comforting than being in your favorite ugly sweats and drinking a cup of hot chocolate and watching your favorite show?
What if I could tell you that there is a delicious hot chocolate out there that not only nourishes your body and mind but that also helps you balance out your body’s chemical messengers – hormones.
As females, our hormone levels fluctuate throughout our beloved cycles -- that’s just how we roll. Problems arise, however, when we produce too much or too little estrogen in relation to the amount of progesterone we produce: those times where hormones take over. There needs to be a balance between these main players (hormones) throughout our cycle. Excess estrogen can cause bloating, acne, fatigue, an irregular cycle, hair loss–ugh, no thanks! This doesn’t sound fun and it’s not fun for anyone.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where we are bombarded with endocrine disruptors that mess with our hormonal balance. From environmental factors like the pesticides in our food to the makeup and perfumes we use, to the cleaning products at home, to the amount of sleep we get and our stress levels. Basically, everything has an effect on your hormonal balance!
So aside from doing our best to get on the green beauty wagon and sleep at least eight hours a night, I think we could all benefit from adding a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ to help us regain, maintain and support hormonal balance.
Say hello to maca. Although there is no isolated miracle food or product that will, by itself, magically solve all hormonal problems, studies have shown that this bad boy (maca) can help regulate hormones (among MANY other things) when accompanied by nutritious food and exercise. So what is this maca I speak of?
Maca is a Peruvian root plant, rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals and it is sold in dried and powdered form. It is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens support the entire neuroendocrine system, and counteract the adverse effects of stress while regulating immune function. It is also known to boost libido! (shaka waka waka…)
Maca’s malty taste seems to complement cacao rather well making it a great addition to your hot chocolate. Enjoy maca a few times a week in this hot chocolate or maybe add a teaspoon to your smoothie occasionally. If you’re not feeling the maca then simply enjoy the rest of these nourishing ingredients!
Hormone-balancing hot chocolate (Fills a large mug -- satisfies cravings!)
2 tbsp raw cacao
2 cups cashew or coconut milk (both are rich, creamy and nourishing. This will work well with either one. Use almond milk if cashew/coconut milk is not an option.)
1 tsp maca
1 tsp vanilla powder or 1 vanilla bean
Warm the milk up first on low heat. Once warm, add it to a blender with the rest of ingredients. Don’t forget to remove the pits from the dates before adding them to the blender!
Tip: if dates are dry or hard, pit and soak them in filtered warm water for 15 minutes prior to adding them to the blender.
Maca powder is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur plus in vitamins C, E and some B-vitamins, it also contains protein.
Mixing maca with good fats (which are essential for making hormones) such the cacao powder and the coconut milk (or cashew milk) make this a great hormone-balancing drink you can enjoy anytime you are craving something comforting.
Cacao contains a hefty amount of magnesium - the relaxation mineral which is critical for energy production, helps to create hormones, to balance blood sugar, support thyroid, and regulate cortisol; it is also rich in antioxidants and helps you produce serotonin – which makes you feel happy and relaxed. So this is a win win!
Note: Cacao is not the same as cocoa: cocoa has been processed; cacao is pure and unrefined, and all of its nutritional benefits remain intact.
Dates are the perfect whole-food sweetener! (Just remember to remove the pit first) They are rich in fiber, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, vitamin K and certain B-vitamins. They provide sweetness along with a hefty dose of fiber. Contrary to popular belief, although dates contain natural sugar they do not spike blood sugar levels significantly and are actually a low-glycemic index food.
Vanilla: this aromatic bean is considered an aphrodisiac and contains calcium, iron, and potassium.
Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.
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