Happy Valentine's Day World!! Today is of course the Universal Day of Love, named for a Bishop Valentine who used to perform secret marriages for young soldiers who had been forbade to marry by Claudius the 2nd (who later executed Bishop Valentine for his trouble!).
But don't forget what other delightful thing this special day is known for..CHOCOLATE!!! This dessert favourite to so many, has a long, ancient and intriguing past. But I won't bore you with all the drawn out details, just the highlights!
~ Canadians consume just over 8.5 pounds of Chocolate per person Annually!!
~ Did you Chocolate (unlike money) actually grows on trees?! At least in its raw form anyways. Cacao (the base component of all the Chocolate Deliciousness in the World) is the seed of a fruit which grows from the 'Theobrama cacao' tree. This tree grows in warmer sub-tropical and tropical climates (21 Celsius and above) and produces its fruit all year round. The tree is believed to have originated in Venezuela, but now grows all over the World.
~ Raw Cacao "Nibs" (the raw seed of the Cacao tree) have been known to promote heart health, relax the muscles, assist in building bone tissue and even (or especially for us Ladies) soothe PMS!! No wonder us Gals tend to crave the stuff around the time of the month! Raw cacao also contains Dopamine, Serotonin, Tryptophan and Anandimide - all natural mood boosters!
~ Cacao was even used as a form of currency by the Mayans..can you imagine today if we still were able to buy things with Chocolate?! I would be a rich woman!
Some of the positive properties listed above are lost through the manufacturing process Cacao goes through to become the Chocolate we see on the store shelves today and sadly much of it is lost in the making of Milk-Chocolate products (like the antioxidants), so it is best to consume it in its raw form or in the form of Dark Chocolate with a 70% or higher Cacao content. Not to mention that by cutting out your consumption of Milk Chocolate products you are reducing your intake of food additives, chemicals, pesticide residues, powdered milk (which is actually antioxidant-blocking) and artificial hormones from the cow providing the milk to your chocolate. Ick!
So in honour of this glorious day of Love and Chocolate (and our Love of Chocolate!) I have decided to prepare a Raw Chocolate Dessert!! Of course though I might have been tempted to consume all of it myself I will be sharing it with my Yoga students this evening at the Yoga/Nutrition course I am currently teaching through Shakti Yoga Studio (www.shaktiyogastudio.ca). But's it is the Healthiest kind of Chocolate there is so we need feel no guilt and what is Love if you cannot share it right?
Below is the recipe of these Delicious Raw Chocolate Haystacks, which I found on The Rawtarian website (www.therawtarian.com) which was quite helpful if you are new to all things raw as I am. With just 6 natural ingredients this recipe is quick and oh so Delicious!!
Raw Chocolate Haystacks *Yields about 20 haystacks depending on size*
2 1/2 C Shredded Coconut (I went with unsweetened)
3/4 C Liquid Coconut Oil (Organic is best and make sure you take it out of your fridge well in advance to allow for liquification..what a fabulous word..haha)
1/2 C Maple Syrup (Heck Yes!)
1/2 C Raw Cacao Powder (available at your Friendly Neighbourhood Health Food Store)
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (YUM!)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt (or if you have one of those fancy table grinders like I do, a few twists)
1. Mix all ingredients except for the Coconut together in a bowl.
2. Stir until well mixed. *Note: Do not mix with a whisk, or this will happen, see below picture, plz learn from my snafoos haha!)
3. Once combined, add Shredded Coconut and mix well until fully combined.
4. Form into small mounds (or balls, as I did) and place on plate. **For Coconut sprinkled effect roll mounds in extra Coconut before putting on plate. Freeze for a 1/2 hour.
5. Store remaining Haystacks in freezer (coconut oil will liquify if allowed to warm).
And Woolah! You have an easy, quick, chocolatey Raw Dessert that is perfect for party functions or a quick choco fix. ;) Enjoy!!
"Naked Chocolate" by David Wolfe and Shazzie www.naked-chocolate.com
History of Valentine's Day http://www.theholidayspot.com/valentine/history_of_valentine.htm