"Chocolate of good quality calms the fever, nourishes the patient and tends to restore him to health." Francis Joseph Victor Broussais, celebrated French physician, 1772-1836
WHY THE CHOCOLATE CRAVING
Some people love bread and wine, some add the flavor of a good ripe cheese to the mix and conclude the meal with decadent morsels of rich chocolate. Not a bad idea since chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, can provide some of the highest amounts of magnesium, after sea vegetables, available in plant form. But with the sweet comes the bitter news, that chocolate is also high in oxalic acid and the caffeine-like substance theobromine, which when taken in excess (emphasis on excess), can inhibit the body's ability to absorb minerals and result in feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. Something to consider when you cannot sleep after indulging in a few chocolate truffles before your bedtime.
Two researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, Daniel Piomelli and Emmanuelle diTomaso discovered in a 1996 study, that, "chocolate contains pharmacologically active substances that have the same effect on the brain as marijuana, and that these chemicals may be responsible for certain drug-induced psychoses associated with chocolate craving." The chemical in question is a neurotransmitter known as anandamide, which is produced naturally in the brain, and is also a component of chocolate. Although eating good chocolate won't get you "high", these particular compounds (and there may be more) provide that "good feeling" you get from eating good, quality chocolate.
A CHOCOLATY VALENTINE'S DAY TO YOU & THE EARTH
There is always bread leftover and going stale, which can reincarnate as delicious bread pudding. Perhaps there is a can of coconut milk on the back shelf and more than likely some dark chocolate you have stashed away for a treat. The combination makes for a dessert that is the main course, coupled with a simple, but light meal.
Chocolate Coconut Bread Pudding
6 cups day old (or more) hearty raisin walnut bread
1 can whole coconut milk
1 cup maple or agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg or 1 teaspoon egg replacer
1 2 ounce bar Dagoba "Eclipse" or other brand of semi-sweet dark chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee (clarified butter)
2 tablespoons brown sugar or xylitol sweetener
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cube stale bread, place in medium bowl, cover with water and soak for 1-2 hours. Then gently squeeze out excess water and place bread in a 9x9" baking dish. In a blender or food processor puree coconut milk, syrup, vanilla, and egg. Pour over cubed bread. Chop or break the chocolate into small pieces and gently integrate them into the bread mixture. Sprinkle the brown sugar or xylitol over the top of the pudding and place small pats of butter or ghee around the surface. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes or until brown and crusty on top. Cool and serve warm with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Delia Quigley is a holistic health practitioner, author of seven health books and an experienced yoga instructor. She also teaches the exquisite science of preparing whole, organic foods to support and strengthen the mind, body and spirit.