Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Easy Tips to improve your Digestive Fire




Tip One: Eat When the Fire is Hot

One of the nice things about a Thanksgiving meal is that it is typically in the early afternoon, when the digestive fire burns hottest!

According to Ayurveda, the digestion is the strongest in the afternoon and the best time to be filling the tank to capacity.

So try not to have that big dinner at night when the cooks have gone home and your digestive fire is the weakest.

Try this Yoga practice to increase abdominal fire, reduce fat and purify the entire system of toxins http://spirithealers.blogspot.com/2013/05/yoga-practice-to-increase-abdominal.html




Tip Two: Chat and Chew

It is not a bad idea to eat a light and balanced breakfast, so by the time the big meal comes you have fully digested breakfast and are ready to fill up.

Be careful though, if you sit down to that table starving, you risk inhaling your food and after hours of preparation you are stuffed to the gills in under 10 minutes.

The key here is to eat slowly! Relax and dine! Force yourself to put the fork down and chat while you chew.

The more time you give yourself to chew and relax, the more your stomach will gracefully expand and allow you to comfortably continue to enjoy your meal without over eating. If you eat that same meal fast, it will hit like a rock and you will find yourself spending much of the afternoon on the couch.


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Tip Three - Stoke the Furnace

Use these simple tricks to jump-start digestion before your big meal:

a. Drink a tall glass of water 20 minutes before starting the meal. This will pre-hydrate your stomach wall, which is lined with an acid buffer that is 80% water. The more water, the better the buffer and the more acid your stomach will produce to enjoy more food.

b. You can add a little salt and pepper to this glass of water to further stoke the digestive fire.

c. Sip some ginger tea while you are eating, or sip it during the 20-30 minutes prior to the meal to stoke the fire.



Tip Four - After Dinner Tricks

There is an old Ayurvedic strategy to lie on your left side for 10- 15 minutes after a large meal. This is not an all afternoon siesta, but a short rest on the left side to allow the stomach to empty gracefully and effortlessly.

The stomach is on the left side of the belly and empties from left to right into the small intestine. By lying on the left side, you allow the stomach to hang freely and contract naturally to move the food through when it is all properly digested.

If you lie on the right side or get up too soon, the food is hurried and forced out of the stomach prematurely by gravity. This can cause ingestion and, after a big meal, it can cause some gas pains!

After your short rest on the left side (or some serious table leaning to the left) after the meal, it’s time for a nice relaxing walk. Pray for nice weather!


Tip Five - Digestive No-No's

a. Don’t drink cold or iced water with this meal!

b. Take a few minutes to relax, get settled, and say some form of blessing or grace before eating. Do not start eating until you are really settled, calm and ready to eat and enjoy each bite with awareness!

c. Don’t watch TV while eating.

d. Don’t eat standing up.

e. Don’t pig out on bread first. It is heavy and hard to digest and before you know it, you will be full!


Bon appetite!
Written by John Douillard

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Is Decaf Safe?


by JOHN DOUILLARD on NOVEMBER 21, 2013 

While research citing the many benefits of coffee has made headlines, there are still concerns as to whether excess caffeine is in our best interest. In my newsletter piece, “Coffee: The Good the Bad and the Ayurvedic Perspective,” I listed research on both sides of the caffeine and coffee aisle.http://lifespa.com/coffee-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ayurvedic-perspective/
Interestingly, the benefits of coffee were present in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the benefits are not attributable to the caffeine content, but to other properties of the plant itself.
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Many folks, myself included, are either wary of the effect of excess caffeine on the nervous system or just do not tolerate caffeine well. For those who like the taste of coffee but do not handle caffeine, they drink “decaf.” But is it safe?
In this week’s article, find out if your decaf is, in fact, decaf; why it’s important to know how your decaf was processed and which processing method to opt for; and the Ayurvedic perspective on coffee’s mysterious cousin.
Is Your Decaf Actually Decaf?

First of all, it must be pointed out that ,while the FDA requires a beverage touted as “decaf” to be 97% caffeine free, drinking decaf can actually still add up to ingesting a bunch of caffeine.
An 8 ounce cup of regular coffee can anywhere from 85 to 190mg of caffeine. An 8 ounce cup of decaf can range from 8.6 to 13.6mg of caffeine (1). A shot of decaf espresso can have as little as 3mg of caffeine and as much as 16mgs. So beware, if you are trying to avoid caffeine, drinking a double decaf latte can pack as much caffeine as a can of Coke! (1).

Not All Decafs Are Created Equaldecaf methods common caffeine levels image

When choosing a decaf, it’s important to inquire about the method that was used to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans. Choosing consciously can mean the difference between a clean product and one that is potentially laden with toxic chemicals.
There are four common decaffeination methods used today. I will list them in order of purity – not prevalence!
#1 – Most Pure:
Water Process – Can be sold as Organic Decaf – No Chemicals or Solvents
Water process decaffeination is when the beans are soaked in very hot water and the caffeine as well as flavors and other constituents are naturally extracted into solution. The caffeine, which is a larger molecule, is filtered out and the rest of the filtrate is re-introduced and dried into the coffee bean.
This is commonly called Swiss Water Process and is far and away the most natural and safe decaffeination process. Since there is nothing inorganic added to the beans, water processing is absolutely an organic process as long as organic beans are used (4).
#2 – More Pure:
Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction Method – Can be sold as Organic Decaf – No Chemicals or Solvents
This is a solvent-free extraction method that allows carbon dioxide (CO2) in a supercritical state (between a liquid and a gas) to selectively extract caffeine from a coffee bean. The beans are soaked in water and then, under very high pressure, CO2 is added. The CO2 acts like a magnet and pulls only the caffeine out of the saturated bean. The CO2 spares the aromatic and flavorful proteins and carbohydrates and only extracts the caffeine.
There are no residues or toxic by-products in this decaffeination method. In addition, CO2 is an organic substance of great purity, and in its supercritical state shows great promise as a replacement for toxic solvents across industries.
To date I have not seen any research citing risks with supercritical extracts. This is an organic process, meaning the product of supercritical extracts may rightfully be called organic as long as organic beans are used.
#3 – Less Pure:
Ethyl Acetate Method – Cannot Be Sold as Organic Decaf
Ethyl acetate (EA) is a solvent that in very small amounts occurs naturally in many fruits, and is even found in coffee beans. In this caffeine extraction method, first the beans are steamed for 30 minutes and then steamed in water and EA for about 10 hours, where the caffeine is extracted by the EA. The mixture is drained and the process repeated several times to complete the extraction process.
Because this solvent exists naturally in fruits and is considered safe by the FDA, it is commonly called the Natural Process, but is not so natural. That said, because getting the EA out of the fruits is such a complicated process, the EA that is used is typically synthetic. It’s important to note that after roasting the coffee beans the amount of solvent residue is typically well within the FDA safety limits.
decaf method coffee cherry tree image
High Dose Exposure Risks: Short-term exposure to high levels of ethyl acetate results first in irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, followed by headache, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and unconsciousness. Very high concentrations may cause a stupor, but it is relatively non-toxic (#EPA, 2007). Prolonged exposures may cause clouding of the eye, damage to the lungs, and heart, kidney and liver problems (#NPI). Its carcinogenic properties are not known (2).
Note: Clearly, exposure in the form of decaf coffee processed using this method is nowhere close to these levels, but I thought it informative to know what exposure to higher levels of these solvents can do. Armed with the facts, you can choose how much exposure you feel comfortable with.
#4 – Least Pure:
Methylene Chloride Method (i.e. Dichloromethane-DCM) – Cannot Be Sold as Organic Decaf – Most Common
According to many experts, this decaffeination method produces the best tasting cup of decaf. The beans are boiled in water extracting the flavors and caffeine. The water extract is separated from the beans and mixed with methylene chloride solution where the caffeine is extracted. Then the beans and caffeine-free water are re-united, whereupon the beans reabsorb their flavor.
Methylene chloride vaporizes at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is exceeded by both roasting and brewing, allowing most decafs processed this way to stay well within FDA solvent residue standards.
High Dose Exposure Risks: According to the EPA, methylene chloride is predominantly used as a solvent. The acute (short-term) effects of methylene chloride inhalation in humans consist mainly of nervous system effects including decreased visual, auditory, and motor functions, but these effects are reversible once exposure ceases. The effects of chronic (long-term) exposure to methylene chloride suggest that the central nervous system (CNS) is a potential target in humans and animals. Human data are inconclusive regarding methylene chloride and cancer. Animal studies have shown increases in liver and lung cancer and benign mammary gland tumors following the inhalation of methylene chloride (3).
Note: Clearly, exposure in the form of decaf coffee processed using this method is nowhere close to these levels, but I thought it informative to know what higher levels of the solvents used can do. Armed with the facts, you can choose how much exposure you feel comfortable with.

Choose Organic Decaf

While the FDA has established safe levels of these decaffeinating solvents, the only way to be sure you are not being exposed to any potentially harmful solvents is to buy organic decaf, which would have to be decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process or a Supercritical extraction. Sadly, labeling which decaffeination method is used is not required. Thankfully, we can seek organic decaf or look for Swiss Water Methods (swisswater.com) or Supercritical extract products.
Generally coffee shops know how their decaf is extracted, so ask! Starbucks sells a water process decaf – their Sumatra Blend – but doesn’t use it for their over-the-counter decaf – so beware!

10 key steps that make sure the health benefits of coffee come to you with the next pot you brew.http://spirithealers.blogspot.com/2013/05/10-key-steps-that-make-sure-health.html

The Ayurvedic Perspective

Decaffeination makes coffee even more acidic, astringent and dehydrating because the beans have been pre-extracted, and therefore more likely to attract water in your body, which can dehydrate and irritate the gut.
Tip: Drink more water before and after all coffee consumption, particularly decaf.
Decaf coffee is also acidic than the already acidic coffee bean. This makes decaf more of a risk to drink on an empty stomach, as it can increase the possibility of excess stomach acid and irritation.
Tip: Drink coffee after a meal.
I have always been of the opinion that if you must drink coffee, either decaf or caff, to have it after a meal as a digestive aid. This way, the coffee will stimulate the digestive system more than the nervous system, which is what we want to avoid if we are to take good care of our nervous systems – a critical task in this hyper-stressed world.
decaf method espresso brewing iamge

Traditionally, coffee or espresso was a digestif, an after dinner drink to boost digestive strength in the same way that green tea is taken after a meal in parts of Asia. In my professional opinion, this is still the safest way to drink coffee and still preserve the health of the nervous system.

Coffee for the Doshas

Pitta body types with pitta digestion (acid issues or irritation of the intestinal wall issues) should avoid coffee altogether – decaf and caffeinated.
Vata types can have very sensitive nervous systems, making them extra sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Vata types tend towards sensitive digestion as well, and since the stimulation from caffeine can irritate the gut and cause digestive disturbances, vata types have to be careful not to overdo coffee, whether caff or decaf.
Kapha types, while they sometimes can benefit from a boost, can easily become addicted to the caffeine boost just like any body type.

Bottom Line

If you find yourself longing for a cup of coffee or needing it for energy, regular bowel movements or a brain boost then it might be time to quit. All of the above – energy, elimination, and clarity of mind – can be supported through other, more sustainable means that will not deplete the body’s reserves over time.
Please read more on How to feel content and happy everyday - Ayurvedic and Yogic guidelines
http://spirithealers.blogspot.com/2013/05/how-to-feel-content-and-happy-everyday.html
REFERENCES:
1. HTTP://WWW.WEBMD.COM/DIET/NEWS/20061011/DECAF-COFFEE-ISNT-CAFFEINE-FREE
2. HTTP://WWW.TOXIPEDIA.ORG/DISPLAY/TOXIPEDIA/ETHYL+ACETATE
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3. HTTP://WWW.EPA.GOV/AIRTOXICS/HLTHEF/METHYLEN.HTML
4. COSIC. COFFEE SCIENCE INFORMATION CENTRE.HTTP://WWW.ICO.ORG/DECAFFEINATION.ASP#STHASH.GJQR636L.DPUF



alternative medicine, Brooklyn Roasting Company, Burlap and Bean Coffee, coffee, Counter Culture Coffee, Energy Healing, Marley coffee, organic, Pour-over, yoga, immune system, qigong, chi kung

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

8 Exercises for Fitness, Healing, and Longevity - Part 5

The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side


Fifth Movement in the 8 Section Brocade Chi Kung


This exercise reduces Qi in the heart (heart fire). Excess heart fire leads to heartburn, restlessness, lack of sleep,  mental uneasiness, colds, and hypertension. This exercise pushes the Qi from the middle dan tien, into the heart and lung  area, and out through any obstructions.


NOTE: Inhale when you are in the beginning position and exhale when you bend forward.

The mind moves the qi...
Circulate the qi throughout the body, and direct it without obstruction, so that it can easily follow the mind.
To become nimble the mind-intent and qi must interchangeably respond to each other, and  achieve the most subtle pliability...
The energy is issued from the spine... first in the mind, then in the body...
Constantly relax the abdomen...
Seek to penetrate the qi into the bone...
-- from Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Kinetic Postures by



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Many  8 Brocades videos exist on YouTube.  
Shaolin style by Master Shi De Yang
My current favorite on You Tube is from Health Qigong Ba Duan Jin, performed by MAster Faye Yip, President of British Health Qigong Association, Founder of Deyin Taijiquan Institute (intenational) and Executive member of the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain.  Eight Treasures
You can also watch  -Qigong: Eight Piece Brocades Chi Kung  by Jesse Tsao  on youtube.com  It is a simplier version.  You can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJeyZ43i-xY    You can peruse Jesse Tsao web site at   http://www.taichihealthways.com
Another good source for 8 Brocade video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZgbFD39OdI

Short Instructions:
1. Bend your knees slightly and stand with your feet two shoulder widths apart. Bend slightly and place your hands on your thighs with thumbs pointing out.
2. Slowly wave your head from side-to-side a total of four times.
3. Bend left and down from the waist and rotate your upper body down and around toward the right in a circle. At the same time, sway your buttocks towards the left. Continue rotation to beginning position.
4. Do this exercise eight times.

Long Instructions:

Starting Position: Wu Ji
From the Wu Ji position step out with your left foot into a horse stance.  Your feet should be wider than shoulder width.  Feet can be pointing straight ahead or pointing out from your body at a 45° angle.  The knees should be bent as you squat down.  The depth of the squat will depend upon your level of conditioning and any body mechanics or injury issues you may have.  Try to squat down a little more with every second repetition of this exercise.  Back should be straight,  Torso should be centered and upright.  Rest your hands on the sides of your thighs.  Your elbows should be pointing our to the sides at a 90° angle from the direction you are facing (if you are facing north, your right elbow would point to the east and the left elbow to the west).  Take a wide angle and soft focus with your eyes.  Breath naturally, deeply, and comfortably - as you bend down breathe out, inhale when facing to the
sides.


Movement: The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side 
Face north. 

Keep your hands on the sides of your hips throughout this exercise.


Slowly turn your waist to the left until your chest is facing east.


Your right elbow should be pointing north and you should have your head turned and looking north.


Inhale completely.  


Slowly turn to the right as you bend forward to the front.

Exhale as you move to the right side towards the west.


When you are facing north in the middle, your head and shoulders should be at the lowest point bending forward.


Continue turning your waist to the right and lifting the upper torso. 


Slowly turn your waist to the right until your chest is facing west.


As you turn to the right your left knee will bend more. 


Your left elbow should be pointing north, and you should have your head turned and looking towards the north.


Inhale completely.  


Slowly turn to the left as you bend forward to the front.

Exhale as you move to the left side towards the east.


When you are facing north in the middle, your head and shoulders should be at the lowest point bending forward.


Continue turning your waist to the left and lifting the upper torso. 


Slowly turn your waist to the left until your chest is facing east.


As you turn to the left your right knee will bend more. 


Your right elbow should be pointing north, and you should have your head turned and looking towards the north.


Inhale completely.  


Repeat the movement, back and forth, from side to side, for a number of repetitions, preferably eight times to each side.  

Get the feel of slowly swinging from side to side.  Keep the posture erect as you face east and west, and bend the head and shoulders and back down as you move towards the front (north).  High, low, high.  

Turn at the waist.  Swing from side to side using the waist.  Stay centered in your waist.
Exercise the middle of your body: waist, hips, lower abdominals, groin.  



Demonstration by Mike Garofalo of Movement #7: Big Bear Turns to the Left Side and Back
115Kb, Animated GIF.  


Return you left foot back into the Wu Ji position to rest and realign the body-mind. 
Wu Ji signals the end of one movement and the beginning of the next movement. 
Enjoy some cleansing breaths.  Opening/Closing.
Stand up straight and tall.  Lift the head.  Tuck the chin inward a little.
Loosen Up, Soften, Merge and Relax.
Feel yourself sinking and rooting into the Earth.
Free up the mind, reduce thinking, forget, become outside more. 


Variations of Movement 5 (The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side)
The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung 

Assume the horse stance.
Place your hands on the center of your thighs, palms down, thumb on the outside of the thigh and four fingers on the inside of the thigh.
Turn the head and shoulders to the left side and the waist to the left side.
Push down into the right leg as you turn to the left.
Turn the right shoulder towards the left.  Return to center.  Repeat by turning to the right side.
Turn and swing from side to side.   Don't bend low when in the middle.
Keep the torso upright throughout the exercise.
Keep your spine, neck and head in one plane, in-line, upright.     


Ba Duan Jin: Shaking the Head and Wagging the Tail To Eliminate the Heart-Fire.
The Big Bear Turns From Side to Side, #7
Drawing by Nadezda Kotrchova
Shaking the Head and Wagging the Tail to Eliminate the Heart-Fire

          


Health Benefits of Movement 5 (The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side)
The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung 

Most of the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung, Animal Frolics Chi Kung, and traditional Chinese medical literature says that this exercise benefits the heart, and gets rid of "heart fire."  Exercising the lungs (metal) helps absorb the heat and control the fire, the heart fire - heartburn (Hsin For - heart fire).
The horse stance will strengthen and condition the legs and lower back.
Moving while in deeper horse stances will have some aerobic conditioning effect if the exercise is done with many repetitions.
Bending and turning at the waist will strengthen and stretch the hip, abdominal, and lower back muscles.
The upper back and triceps will be tightened and stretched as you turn and look forward when facing the side.
The spine is gently turned to effect realignment and prevent stiffness.   
Squatting down exercises the leg muscles including the thighs (quadriceps), hamstrings (biceps femoris), buttocks (glutes), calves (gastrocnemius), iliopsoas, and increases demands on the cardio-vascular system.   
Counter indications:  Persons with uncontrolled blood pressure should not have their head lower than their heart.   Persons with hip, abdominal or lower back injuries should avoid deep bends from the waist.  
I interpret this exercise as primarily waist training.  Many Chinese exercises focus on bending, turning, twisting, swinging, or moving from the waist.   Yoga and Pilates also use many exercises that strengthen the mid-section of the torso, one's Powerhouse, through exercises that involve bending or turning at the waist.   Dragon Chi Kung also exercises with turning, twisting, spiraling, and swinging movements. 
"Thus, exercising the waist area regularly will enable ch'i to circulate freely in the Tu Mo and will also stimulate the Shen Yu point.  As a result, the kidneys will be full of energy.  Since the kidneys store ching - the fundamental substance - it follows that when the kidneys have and abundant supply of energy, then ching ch'i, the essential energy of life, will also be richly available.  And yuan ch'i, the primary vital energy, will be vigorous in the maintenance of health.  For this reason, the traditional Chinese fitness exercises pay special attention to the training of the waist region."
-   Knocking at the Gate of Life, 1985, p. 33.    Chinese Waist Training Theory
Ba Duan Jin Exercise Set 5:  "Shaking the head and wagging the tail to remove excess heat from the heart.  The Ba Duan Jin exercise set 5 prevents against fever and reduce tension in the sympathetic nervous system. It certainly has a powerful relaxing effect and, as such, eases the flow of energy along a number of your body's meridians."  - Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. 


References for the Names of Movement 5 (The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side)
The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung 
(See below for reference sources.)                   

Shake Head and Sway Buttocks to Extinguish Fire in Heart.   (Zong Wu and Li Mao, R1)
Lowering the Head and Hips Removes Excess Heat from the Heart.   (Lam Kam Chuen, R2)
Sway the Head and Swing the Tail to Get Rid of the Heart Fire.   (Yang Jwing-ming, R3)
Search the Clouds.    (Geoff and Phyllis Pike, R4)
Wagging Head and Tail to Eliminate the Heart's Flame.   (PRC Publication, R5)
Bending Over, Wagging the Tail to Calm Heart-Fire.   (Kenneth Cohen, R6)
The Big Bear Turns From Side to Side.   (Michael Garofalo, R7)
Bending the Trunk and Stretching the Neck.   (Stanley Wilson, R8)
Turning the Head and Twisting the Tail to Expel Fire from the Heart
.  (Daniel Reid, R9)
Shaking the Head and Wagging the Tail to Dispel Heart Fire  (Jiao Guorui, R10)
Swaying the Spinal Column to Take Away Heart Fire.  (Maoshing Ni, R12)
Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress  (Chinese Health Qigong Association, R13)
The Constant Bear 

Names of the movements of the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung in languages other than English. 


Comments about Movement 5 (The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side)
The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung  
          

Every beginner should stay within their comfort zone, don't over stretch, and be gentle with your body and mind.  Don't try to "exactly" imitate a fellow student who is an intermediate or advanced Chi Kung player or the teacher.   Know and respect your own body and mental state.  Don't go beyond your own personal bodily conditioning, skills, abilities and limits.  Some advise reducing your exertion levels and doing 30% to 40% less than you can do.   Be reasonable and kind to yourself.  Take your time, advance slowly, be careful, be patient, and remain injury free.  Sometimes, an old or new injury, or joint disease, will limit your range of motion.  Know your own strength and limitations - the practice of Chi Kung and Tai Chi forms will reveal to you your strengths and limitations.  Resolve to make two positive contributions today.  Stay within your comfort zone, explore with the body-mind, and renew-recreate both self-awareness and awareness of Self, and come to experience your comfort zone.  Float on the Wu-wei raft on the Tao River; when standing on Earth then root, soften, move.   


Cheng Man-ch'ing: Master of Five Excellences.  Translation and commentary by Mark Hennessy.  Berkeley, California, Frog, Ltd., 1995.  On pages 113-117, there is "An Explanation of the "Constant Bear."  Cheng Man-ch'ing (1901-1975) was a famous Taijiquan master and Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  "It means "ch'ang" or constant, and refers to the constant, daily swinging to and fro of the bear's waist.  So, this move should be called The Constant Bear.  The Constant Bear combines the Five Animal Frolics and t'aichi into a single move." p. 114  "I bequeath the Constant Bear movement to the elderly, the sick, and the frail.
It is a wonderful, traditional exercise which is both simple and easy.  You can also use it for self-defense until you are years old.  All this is easily obtained.  Although my explanation is short and simple, if you understand its principles and practice with perseverance, after as few as one hundred days of moving your ch'i, you will notice a marked improvement in health and strength and no longer need to worry about illness.  It is truly a "sacred raft" to strengthen our bodies and bears no semblance to other well know yet inferior exercises."  p. 115  


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate Mousse Cake with Cardamom


I love Chocolate. It’s sinfully delicious but also one of our most potent health foods. 
Have you heard the story of how we figured out dark chocolate was so incredibly healthy? In the late 90’s researchers wondered why an island off the coast of Panama had so little heart disease (while Panama itself had lots of heart disease). They went to the island to find out and discovered that people there were drinking many cups of a beverage made out of the cacao plant. (Cacao is what is used to make chocolate.)
They brought samples home to study and discovered that Cacao was extremely high in flavanols and antioxidants, which protect against heart disease.


Since then countless scientific studies have been conducted on cacao and chocolate and have shown that cacao can dramatically support heart health, improve athletic performance and can even slow dementia. Just to name a few!




Study after study shows that cocoa flavanols can disarm cell damaging free radicals, preserve cell membranes, protect DNA, prevent the formation of artery clogging plaque, improve blood flow to the heart, lower high blood pressure, and prevent blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke.” - Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD

Here is another excellent way to improve heart health 
http://spirithealers.blogspot.com/2013/10/5-min-meditation-to-wash-away-anxiety.html

Read about how pumpkins can help spice up your sex life
 http://spirithealers.blogspot.com/2013/10/pumpkin-pies-for-sexual-health.html

But hold on...
Before you reach for that Hershey's kiss there’s something else you've got to know.
Our modern day popular chocolate candies are not healthy.
They have too much sugar, too much milk (which interferes with the benefits of cacao) and not nearly enough cacao.
The best way to consume chocolate for your health is to eat dark chocolate that is at least 70%.
If you don’t like dark chocolates I recommend slowly starting to increase the percentage on your chocolate bars. 
Another important consideration for indulging in chocolate is where it came from. Be sure to buy not only organic chocolate, but also fair trade chocolate.



Cardamom, a delicious spice!
The chocolate cake recipe below also includes another one of my very favorite spices.
Cardamom has a unique and provocative flavor that is unlike any other spice. I love cooking cardamom into our savory dishes, in desserts and even in teas and coffee.
Cardamom isn't just for the taste buds, however. It is a carminative herb that can help with a variety of digestive complaints, from slow digestion to cramps and even bad breath. Its constituent, cineole, has been found to have powerful anti-asthmatic compounds. Like cacao, cardamom has been shown to have a multitude of heart health benefits as well.



Cardamom Chocolate Mousse Cake

The following recipe is a delicious pairing of cardamom and cacao. To make this recipe you begin by making chocolate from cacao butter and cacao powder. This ensures you've got really dark and rich chocolate with all of those healthy benefits.
We've made this recipe countless times in the past year and have taken it to many potlucks and dinner gatherings. Each time we have a list of people who desperately want the recipe.
What you’ll need...

  • 130 grams of cacao butter
  • 90 grams of sifted cacao powder (plus a bit more for decoration)
  • 4 tablespoons of honey (or to taste)
  • a 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • sliced almonds (optional)
Most ingredients (if not all) should be available at you local natural foods store. If you want to order the cardamom, cocoa butter and cacao powder online, please order here at Mountain Rose.
Over a double boiler, melt the cacao butter. (I like to buy cacao wafers because they are easy to measure out.)
Remove from the heat and add the cacao powder. Mix well.
Add the honey, coconut milk, cardamom and eggs. Mix well.
Pour into a slightly oiled pie pan. (I use coconut oil.)
Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
When it is done the top should be cracked but the middle should still be soft and wiggly.
Cool overnight to allow it to set. Sprinkle with sliced almonds if desired.
Sprinkle some cocoa powder on top before serving.
I love to serve this with a roasted dandelion root beverage.
Enjoy this delicious (and healthy) treat!

by Rosalee de la ForĂȘt


Here’s an easy to print recipe (without the images)
What you’ll need...
  • 130 grams of cacao butter
  • 90 grams of sifted cacao powder (plus a bit more for decoration)
  • 4 tablespoons of honey (or to taste)
  • a 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • sliced almonds (optional)
Most ingredients (if not all) should be available at you local natural foods store. You can order the cardamom, cocoa butter and cacao powder online.
Over a double boiler, melt the cacao butter.
Remove from the heat and add the cacao powder. Mix well.
Add the honey, coconut milk, cardamom and eggs. Mix well.
Pour into a slightly oiled pie pan. (I use coconut oil.)
Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
When it is done the top should be cracked but the middle should still be soft and wiggly.
Cool overnight to allow it to set. Sprinkle with sliced almonds if desired.
Sprinkle some cocoa powder on top before serving.