Raw chocolate has become quite significant in my life. I’ve always been health conscious and during my 20’s, even though I was never over weight, I tried and tested every diet going. And honestly, it was to keep me looking a certain shape (skinny). I think most girls can relate to this. Even though I didn’t need to diet – I’d diet.
Then I fell in love with a boy. Head over heels.
I completely lost my appetite for months. I shed loads of weight and probably had an eating disorder, although I wouldn’t say I was anorexic. I decided the best way to keep my weight down was not to let a sniff of chocolate past my lips. And for years (maybe 3-4) I lived by my word. I got used to not eating it and didn’t miss it at all. It gradually started creeping back into my limited diet – Organic Green and Blacks was acceptable, I thought.
Then, a couple of years ago, my 6 year relationship ended. It was hell (although now I am very grateful for the experience in many ways). I spent the first year after the split in coffee shops, cake shops, tea rooms reading books, drinking tea and eating chocolate, cake, whatever took my fancy. It was as though my body was making up for lost time and I enjoyed every minute.
However, the guilt about chocolate reared its ugly head. After much soul searching…immersing myself in travels to Australia and Bali, I headed to Bournemouth to teach Bikram Yoga at a new studio. It was there I met a raw chocolatier called Angus Miller who changed my life! Well, changed my way of thinking about food anyway. He made the most delicious raw chocolates that tasted better than any other chocolate that had gone before. He educated me about the nutritional value of cacao beans (which all chocolate is made from). He taught me how to make it myself using natural sweeteners like agave nectar, raw honey and maple syrup. He classed it as ‘guilt free’ chocolate, which I still use today to explain, in extremely simple terms, how to see it. There is no refined sugar, no dairy, no wheat…which is perfect for those looking to make a transformational lifestyle change and put themselves on a path to becoming a perfectly nourished, perfectly balanced human being. Weight is only a tiny part of your life which can be positively effected by raw chocolate.
For those who are quick to say that NO sugar (even natural) is good and cacao beans are toxic, this is just not true when you’re wanting to make a lifelong change to your dietary habits. Going from eating sugary, sticky, comforting foods (as we all do at some point in our life) to completely cutting out everything remotely pleasurable to us at that time is a recipe for failure. Unless you have extreme will power. And I’d argue that even that is unhealthy. Change comes through love and commitment, not will power. It’s about exploring life, acknowledging how and why we do things by the heart as well. And this takes time.
Anyway, getting back to the chocolate! After 18 months of making raw chocolate, eating it, experimenting with different beans from Peru and Ecuador and running raw chocolate workshops, I have now found the most delightful, 100% unprocessed, raw chocolate ingredients thanks to Big Tree Farms in Bali. I made some chocolate over the weekend – sweetened with their coconut sugar and it’s fabulous. It tastes earthy, smoky and mild compared to other (apparently) raw cacao powders.
I’ll be writing lots more about my love of raw chocolate and what I’ve discovered. I suppose I have my whole life!