PMS, Chocolate and a Blueberry Fudge.

PMS, Chocolate and a Blueberry Fudge.

Food as medicine is a beautiful concept. I figure, we have to eat, why not eat something that can make our ailments fade and our bodies sing! 
Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food, as Hippocrates said about two and a half thousand years ago, it’s not a new concept!
It makes sense that what we eat can effect the way out body behaves.
Around 70-90% of adult women experience some form of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) each month, with symptoms ranging from bloating, pain, headaches, fluid retention, back pain, mood changes and emotional outbursts, just to name a few. The cause is multifactorial, involving dietary, hormonal, emotional and lifestyle factors. 
In other words, what you eat and what you do with your body can have a wonderful effect on you symptoms. Here are my top tips. 

1. There are certain key nutrients that are extremely helpful and have been shown to reduce symptoms, and these include magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Pack in as much of these as you can in the form of nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole unrefined grains, oily fish, and all vegetables in general.

2. Reduce sugar and refined foods. 
Sugary foods not only strip the body of nutrients, but spike your blood sugar, impair oestogen metabolism, and mess with your mood. Not a great combination for this time of the month!
It is also a good idea to keep a lid on your caffeine intake as it is associated with a worsening of symptoms. Likewise with alcohol. This may sound all very bleak and boring, until you realise all the AWESOME things you CAN have, and how you can make chocolate that’s not chocolate (read on!). And once you realise how GREAT you feel from

Cacao Love: Chocolate Avocado Mousse and Chocolate Kale Chips

Cacao Love: Chocolate Avocado Mousse and Chocolate Kale Chips

I have had a little cacao obsession this week.

It started with the avocado love from last week, which just sort of melted into an avocado chocolate mousse; and finished with cacao and cashew kale chips…. Lucky that cacao is chock full of antioxidants: 10-15 times more antioxidants than blueberries, and 20 times more than green tea to be precise – whoa! Cacao beans are super rich in magnesium, and are also high in chromium, iron, zinc, vitamin C and manganese. If you are worried about the caffeine content, it is actually quite low – around 1%, compared with coffee which had around 10%.

So what’s the deal with cacao anyway? The cacao tree grows the cacao pod which is the fruit. The pod is full of fabulous seeds which we know as cacao beans. You can find cacao as beans, nibs, powder and cacao butter. The nibs (like chocolate chips) and the powder lend themselves fabulously to baking, trail mix, smoothies, desserts and my new gourmet granola (I will post the recipe soon!).

The difference between cacao and chocolate, or ordinary cocoa, is that the latter is like a watered down version of cacao, with added extras like sugars, binding agents, milk solids, colourings and other chemicals. Vitamins and minerals are very sensitive to heat, and as most chocolate and cocoa is made using high temperatures, the end product is severely depleted in antioxidants, and has almost none of the vitamins and minerals it began life with. Good quality raw cacao however is produced using low temperatures and so maintains much of the original nutrient profile, hooray! Although it’s not something you should really eat in the same quantity as vegetables, the health benefits make it such an awesome alternative for a sweet treat! You will find it in …

Chocolate, Easter and Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Chocolate, Easter and Pumpkin Cheesecake.

I had to do a post on chocolate with Easter around the corner! And what a wonderful thing it is! A little time off to spend reconnecting, enjoying and eating with family and friends. I’m particularly excited this year as it’s the first Easter that my daughter is old enough to enjoy the Easter Bunny – so I get to make footprints on the floor and host egg hunts – all very exciting!

So, to the chocolate. There is a lot of politics surrounding chocolate, or more specifically cocoa and the way that it is collected. West Africa is home to at least 40% of the world’s cocoa production, where there have been ongoing issues with child labour and exploitation.

Fair Trade International is a global organisation that requires companies to pay sustainable prices to the farmers, and this therefore improves their working conditions and local sustainability. The organisation also prohibits child and forced labor.

For more information on which chocolate is fairtrade, have a look here or here

Unfortunately, just because chocolate is fairly traded, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s of wonderful quality. Get into the habit of reading labels, and choosing varieties with less sugar, and without artificial sweeteners, flavourings and other sorts of numbers and names that you don’t recognise.

Conscious Chocolate is a lovely thing! It uses cacao sourced from Bolivia and certified by the “Hand in Hand” programme which supports sustainable farming practices and gives back to the farmers via education, health and environmental programmes, and ensures fair pay.

It’s dairy free, gluten free, soy free, low GI and vegan – whoa. Usually this might also equal taste free….but not here – yay!! Check out their website for more information on the ingredients and how it’s made.

Another option is to make your own!