Chocolate and Flowers: Straight To Your Sweetheart's Heart For Valentine's
CHOCOLATE has long been considered an aphrodisiac. Some research attributes this to chocolate's content of phenylethylamine (PEA), which elevates energy and mood, and is increased, along with oxytocin and dopamine, when one is in love or aroused. Whether the PEA amount in cacao is significant enough or not to make a difference is debatable, but we do know that cacao is one of the world's most antioxidant rich foods on this planet . . . plus, it's just so delicious! But unfortunately, not all chocolate is created equal. Most likely that heart-shaped box in this photo is more sugar than cacao and therefore not very heart loving, and not very child friendly either if it's not fair trade cacao.
In the U.S. alone, more than 58 million pounds and $345 million in sales of chocolate candy were sold during Valentine’s week last year. How much of it do you think was unhealthy for our hearts? Why not keep your chocolate heart-healthy and waistline-loving for your sweethearts? Make it nourishing, delicious, and homemade for the one you love, who is doing all she/he can to stay healthy. So while the box of pralines and red roses are a sweet sentiment, here are two Healthibella recipes that use pure raw cacao that you can make for your sweetheart AND help keep her heart healthy!
- super food raw cacao and cinnamon
- healthy nuts
- healthy coconut oil
- purely plant based
- sugar free
- superfood raw cacao and spirulina
- purely plant based
- sugar free
In your pursuit of the healthiest chocolate, keep in mind that the maximum nutrients are found in raw cacao beans before any kind of processing. In a health hierarchy, raw cacao beans before processing rank first, followed by organic cacao powder, then organic dark chocolate, which have greater concentrations of cacao and lower levels of processed sugar. Some of cacao's nutrients get reduced or destroyed when undergoing a heating process and then combined with milk and sugar to make chocolate.
FLOWERS have long been known to elevate our mood by just seeing them. They cheer up any room and brighten up any day, so no doubt they're also one of the most classic gifts for V-day, and not just for romance, but friendship. I received a huge bouquet of long-stemmed, utterly gorgeous peach colored French tulips from my boss—this was over twenty years ago and I remember their beauty and my boss’s generosity to this day! So, give flowers—either cut fresh flowers, preferably local or fair trade, or a beautiful potted flowering plant for your sweetheart’s house, or even a rose or peony bush for her/his garden, and let her enjoy the blooms perennially. We know that feeling happy increases our heart health—and flowers are a wonderful tried and true overture to happiness!
I wish I could give everyone of you Healthibella readers a Valentine’s Day visit to the countryside of Mallorca, where some 6 million almond trees blossom this month. It’s truly so breathtaking, so here are a few pictures for your pleasure!
Happy Valentine's Day!
To your heart and happiness, xx, Juli
FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE: I try to consume chocolate that is fair trade or from companies with well known ethical production practices, because I think we all know how corrupt and unethical this “sweet" industry can be. I don't boycott or go to extremes and when I'm out, I'll have a chocolate dessert because I try to practice balance. But at home, I prefer the fair stuff!
Some chocolate facts from the CNN Freedom Project:
- Chocolate is an $83 billion a year business, making the industry's value larger than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than 130 nations on earth, World Bank figures show.
- Africa produces more than 75% of the world’s cocoa. The Ivory Coast alone produces more than 35% of the world's cocoa, says the International Cocoa Organization. More than 3/4 of all the world's cocoa comes from West Africa–but the entire continent of Africa only accounts for about 3 percent of its consumption!
- Europeans account for nearly half of all the chocolate the world eats, according to the International Cocoa Organization. The average Brit, Swiss, or German will each eat around 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of chocolate a year.