If you can’t eat it don’t put it on your skin. This perspective has made it easy for me to select greener, more natural, pure options in skin care and food. I love to create a home spa with products from my kitchen, the results are purer and fresher than any store bought product when you can mix it up right before using.
Chocolate is luxurious, decadent, seems like a splurge, but it’s so good for your body inside and out. Since Valentine’s Day is next week, Chocolate will take center stage here. Valentine’s Day in the USA, Canada, France, Great Britain and Australia is often celebrated with cards and candy. Often, the traditional healthy, dark and RAW chocolates taking a back seat to the over-commercialized red foil wrapped indulgences of the holiday. In Ghana, one of the chocolate capitals of the world, they celebrate February 14th as National Chocolate Day. Regardless of where you live or how you celebrate February 14th, it can be a fun reminder that chocolate can be healthy for you, so why not include it in your daily routine?
Purity matters. The chocolate I’m referring to in this article is pure RAW cocoa powder, not milk chocolate shaped into cute hearts and truffles loaded with sugars, flavorings and dairy. Those are fun, but if you are looking at chocolate for health and as real nourishment for your body, you’ll want to use only the best quality. Just like fresh produce and real ingredients are important to a whole foods diet, personal care products can and should be as fresh and pure as possible. After all your skin does absorb whatever you put on it, right? Many upscale spas are offering body services with chocolate, but they may be loaded with chemicals. When you DIY, you know what is going into your recipe and it’s simple to create your own Home Spa – pamper yourself, light some unscented candles, play your favorite soothing music and enjoy the atmosphere.
Ethical choices in Chocolate. The cocoa industry is one similar to coffee, tea and rug making industries. These manufacturers are known for using child and slave labor to boost production and revenues that are mostly produced overseas. My husband and one of my kids witnessed child labor firsthand on a trip to India, first seeing little children working in a brick yard carrying and stacking heavy bricks. Another visit took them to a tea plantation where the women and young children worked in the fields while the men sat around drinking. These children should be in school, not supporting the demands of consumerism. This information is something more Americans need to know about. It’s not a message you’ll hear over Valentine’s (which moves into Easter, as encouragement to more indulgence in chocolate confections) amidst the hype of showing others you care by spending money on chocolate harvested and packaged by 6 or 8 year olds. There are also great organizations like IN Network and Compassion International that provide child sponsorship programs to get children out of labor camps and into schools where they can be given an education and meal. We’ve supported several children in these ministries, you can make a difference in a child’s life for as little as $25-35 a month in a sponsorship program and by supporting Fair Trade Organizations when you shop.
Vote with your dollar. Choosing cocoa for your personal use goes beyond organic and reaches ethical proportions. Please select Fair Trade Certified cocoa so you can make an impact on the lives of those farmers who are doing things right. Many fair trade organizations are working to improve the lives of farmers and use less if any pesticides on crops, but the main benefit is fair prices for their goods and discouraging any use of child and slave labor.
Chocolate is packed with nutrients. Cocoa powder can be dry roasted or raw. As you can imagine, RAW is the most nutritious option packed with all those flavanoids and antioxidants that keep our body and mind healthy. Cocoa is also loaded with trace minerals including iron, calcium and magnesium which can be helpful in combating depression, so you may not be imagining things when you feel better eating some chocolate! I would avoid milk chocolate which has lots of sugar. It’s important to read labels on all chocolate. Every brand is different, some containing just a few simple ingredients like cocoa, sugar, and cocoa butter others have additives, so know what’s in your chocolate before you invest in it. There are many ways you can cook with chocolate such as in candy making and tempering. You can read more about tempering chocolate at baking bites.com. These recipes will use the RAW cocoa powder, cocoa in it’s most natural state: nibs and powder. Now onto the fun!
Here are my favorite recipes for your Chocolate SPA, all you need to have on hand are some quality ingredients. Feel free to adjust and experiment with flavors. I’ve kept the recipes basic so you can easily change ingredients to what you have on hand.
For texture variations: wrap truffle mix around a walnut, pecan or hazelnut. To make a double layer truffle, melt dark chocolate over a double boiler and coat your truffle. Let it harden on a piece of parchment paper.
I first had Chocolate Avocado Mousse at my friend KC’s for lunch and I was hooked. It’s a surprising combination of avocados and cocoa. Enjoy this before, during or after your Chocolate facial!
- 1/2 C medjool dates, soaked in cold water, 2-3 hours
- 1/4 C organic maple syrup or agave nectar (I’d cut this in half so it’s not so sweet)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 C mashed avocado (about 3 whole avocados)
- 3/4 C organic cocoa powder
- 1/4 C creamed coconut
Remove pits from dates before blending or processing, add maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Add mashed avocado and cocoa powder. Add water a little at a time until smooth and fluffy. Pipe into serving bowls and chill before serving.
What is your favorite recipe with Cocoa? Leave a note in the comments to share,