Cacao: A Treat for the Heart
I enjoy cacao as medicine. It’s heart-healthy, and a heart opener. During February, I’ll be offering cacao as medicine workshops at The Namaste Getaway. Pick from Partner Play, Hatha for the Heart, or, Loving Oneself. All will include gluten-free, vegan low-glycemic cacao treats. Made with love. From my heart to yours.
Cacao vs. Coffee
I was never really a coffee drinker. In fact, I didn’t have my first sip until I was in college. At 30, I stayed clear when my doctor told me it was a digestive irritant. But, when I moved to Miami, how could I resist the ritual cafecito breaks? Then, in San Antonio, I began to sip coffee to offset the workplace A/C chill.
When I upped my yoga practice, I put a complete stop to caffeine. Both of my yogic lineages say no to meat, eggs, alcohol, and caffeine. For multiple reasons. Now, I’ve been living pretty much caffeine-free for 15 or 20 years.
However, I still rev up my body, heart and mind, with cacao as medicine treats. Following are some of my reasons why. Plus, how I make my own cacao as in the image to the right.
Caffeine-free Energy Boost
I get my physical and mental boosts from cacao. Yet, cacao is caffeine-free. Rather, it contains theobromine which is a gentle cardiac stimulant and muscle-relaxant. Furthermore, theobromine does NOT affect the central nervous system, as does caffeine.
I view cacao as medicine. One of nature’s good medicines. It has been considered such by the indigenous peoples in the Americas for ages. In fact, the word chocolate, comes from the Nahuatl word Xocolatl. Likewise, the word cacao has its origins in Nahuatl. It’s shortened from cacahuatl meaning the bean of the cocoa tree. While, the word cacahuate, in Mexico, now is commonly used for peanut. The latter was shortened from the Nahuatl tlacahuatl, meaning cacao de la Tierra.
But let’s forget about the word chocolate. Go a step further. Try to erase it from your pantry, fridge, and mind. Consider this: today’s “chocolate,” like kisses or Crunch, are overly processed. They are loaded with sugar, fats, and basically have no redeeming features. Fortunately, many alternative brands of organic higher cacao content products are available at your Whole Foods or Sprouts.
Nonetheless, I go to the source. I buy my cacao in Central America. Real. Pure. 100 percent.
Pure Cacao as Medicine
This past Xmas eve day, just back from Costa Rica, I held a special heart-opening class at Orange Moon Yoga. I served my pure cacao as medicine, and explained its benefits.
First, cacao is loaded with magnesium.
Second, cacao is one of the greatest sources for anti-oxidants.
Third, cacao is high in protein. And meat-eaters always ask, “where do you get your protein.” Ha!
Fourth. Cacao is calcium rich.
Fifth, cacao is great for the mind. In several ways. Many, recognize it as an anti-depressant.
Next. Cacao for the heart. Energetically, it is a heart-opener. Physically, it can reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.
Finally, cacao is caffeine-free. However, it contains theobromine which is a gentle cardiac stimulant and muscle-relaxant. Theobromine does NOT affect the central nervous system, as does caffeine.
Cacao as Medicine with Indian or Indigenous Spices
To add to the benefits of cacao as medicine, rather than watering down the benefits with milk and sugar, which was introduced by the Europeans, go for what’s been added historically.
At my recent visit to a Cacao museum in Costa Rica, my guide explained to me that the indigenous people added turmeric, ginger and black pepper to their cacao. Interestingly enough, that’s pretty much what I add. But, my inspirations come from Ayurveda. At the same time, following a low-glycemic diet for many years, I tend to use lots of cinnamon as my “sweetener.” My guide said the indigenous people in Mexico used the cinnamon.
Furthermore, I make my own bliss balls, following plenty of recipes, and always omitting the dates or other sweeteners. Two of my favorite bliss ball recipes come from my Ayurvedic doctor. The first is Dr. Nibodhi’s Cacao Bliss Balls, infused with ashwagandha and cayenne. The second is Dr. Nibodhi’s Chai Balls, which include ginger, cardamon and cloves.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when at the end of my Cacao Museum tour, I pretty much made my own flat rather than round bliss balls. Freshly ground and toasted cacao, with just a tad of water to be able to form the patty on the banana leaf. Then, I was able to sprinkle in cinnamon, ginger, pepper, nutmeg and turmeric. Medicine sprinkled with many more medicinal forms. Pure Bliss.
Now, I look forward to sharing cacao as medicine. From my heart to yours.