Is it just me, or do the holidays sometimes feel more stressful than joyful? Tons of running around, last-minute gift making, endless social events, and no time for much else! I catch myself skipping meals and losing sleep just to keep up. Not very relaxing. This year I am making a concerted effort to book time for treating myself, because all this holiday time should feel like a holiday after all.
As an act of indulgence, but also to keep my energy high and stress levels down, I’m drinking hot chocolate. Yes, you read that correctly. And because this is My New Roots, you know that this isn’t just any kind of hot cocoa – we’re talking all-raw and all-superfood-packed deliciousness to satisfy your sweet tooth and your healthy tooth (you do have one of those, I promise).
A while back in Lisbon, I was teaching cooking classes at an Ashtanga yoga shala, Casa Vinyasa where the instructors were drinking “Macacino” constantly. I finally asked what this fragrant, chocolate-y drink was, and they told me it was like hot chocolate, but with maca. It helped them keep their stamina up, and maintain that otherworldly calmness even after teaching 9 hours a day. After making a cup for myself I realized that they were really onto something, and so I set out to create a similar treat at home in Copenhagen.
Raw Cacao: one of the best sources of magnesium found in nature, in addition to containing high amounts calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur, and potassium. Cacao contains many chemicals that enhance physical and mental well-being, including alkaloids, proteins, magnesium, and beta-carotene.
Ginger: aids digestion; decreases arthritic swelling; destroys bacteria and viruses; lowers blood pressure; aids circulation.
Cinnamon: aids digestion, relieves nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; has antiseptic properties; beneficial for the heart, lungs, and kidneys; aids insulin’s ability to metabolize blood sugar.
Cayenne: reduces inflammation, relives pain, reduce blood cholesterol, clears congestion, boosts the immune system, prevents stomach ulcers, lowers risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
And of course, there is the maca…
Get your Maca on!
Maca is a root that has been grown for over 2,500 years high in the Peruvian Andes – it is in fact the highest-altitude crop on earth. The conditions in which maca grows are extremely harsh, and the plant needs to be incredibly resilient to survive and thrive. Although it resembles a large radish, maca is a member of the cruciferous family of plants (just like broccoli, cabbage, kale etc).
Maca is an “adaptogen” meaning it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s hormonal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. For this reason it is particularly effective for improving libido. Maca also has the ability to help us cope with stress, and stabilize our moods and energy. Boasting 31 minerals and trace elements, maca is a nutritional powerhouse and a stress-relieving, healthy addition to many foods.
The flavour of maca is kind of malty and sweet. Some people taste vanilla and butterscotch as well, but most would agree that it is quite strong and can be overpowering if used frivolously. I find taking maca in creamy foods like smoothies, or with yogurt and muesli most appealing. Start with small quantities, like one teaspoon, and work your way up to more. Remember that taking a little maca every day is better than taking a lot at one time once in a while.
Look for maca at health food stores and gourmet grocers, sold as the dried, powdered root. Make sure that the product you are purchasing is 100% root – not other parts of the plant. Store in a cool dry place.
If you do not like spiced hot chocolate, just use the first four listed ingredients, plus milk or water. If you do not have or cannot find coconut sugar, leave this ingredient out of the mix and sweeten the finished beverage with honey or maple syrup.
You could also mix up a large batch of this and give it away as a gift! A wonderful superfood present for anyone on your list.
Superfood Haute Chocolate
2 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
2 tsp. maca powder
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
pinch sea salt
pinch cinnamon powder
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch ginger powder
small piece vanilla bean, scraped (optional)
1 ½ cups milk of your choice or water
1. Boil water or warm milk on the stove and let cool slightly. If using raw nut milk, do not heat above 118°F/42°C.
2. Whisk in dry ingredients. Serve immediately with a cinnamon stick, if desired.