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Health Through Awareness
Composition of chocolate sweets, cocoa and spices, isolated on white   

"Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods,  

panacea and universal medicine."    

Geronimo Piperni, quoted by Antonio Lavedán,  

Spanish army surgeon,1796    


Well, I promised you good news for March and here it is...While processed forms of sweets, cookies, cake, pies etc. may not be good for you, organic dark chocolate has many health benefits!  This is great news for me as  I am a dark chocolate lover.  Imagine how happy I am to be able to share these health benefits of dark

  • Cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants. However, it was thought that these molecules were poorly digested and absorbed due to their large size
  • New research revealed that your gut bacteria breaks down and ferments the components in dark chocolate, turning them into anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit your health
  • Beneficial gut microbes including Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria "feasted" on chocolate, creating anti-inflammatory compounds that may reduce inflammation of cardiovascular tissue
  • A wide range of accumulating scientific research has linked chocolate consumption to over 40 distinct health benefits
  • The closer your cocoa is to its natural raw state, the higher its nutritional value; ideally, your chocolate or cocoa should be consumed raw (cacao).

Excerpted from: "Scientists probe dark chocolate's health secrets".

Dr. Mercola, March 31, 2014 

To read the whole article on the benefits of dark chocolate click  here


If you want to try a really delicious unprocessed chocolate try Diego's Chocolate.

"The soft, creamy, almost fudge-like texture and bold, fruity cacao flavors are the first things you notice once that initial bite hits your tongue."
"Diego's Artisan Chocolate is about as 'local' as you can get - from farmer, to chocolate maker, to you." 

To begin, the process Diego uses to make his chocolate is unlike any "European-style" chocolate on the market. About 12 years ago, Diego, who is Mayan Guatemalan, started experimenting with his grandmother's drinking chocolate recipe with an eye toward producing a "bar" that could be packaged and sold. His process is distinctively Mayan and it does not use any of the industrial machinery typically used in fine chocolate making. In fact, it is based on the way the Mayan people, the first creators of chocolate, have been processing cacao for thousands of years. The result is a chocolate bar that is significantly less processed and closer in structure to the cacao bean--the cacao is roasted and then ground, and the resulting "cacao butter" forms the base of his chocolate.  Even his sweeteners are less processed than most chocolate. While other high-quality chocolate makers use cane sugar, Diego uses panela, which is unrefined evaporated cane juice--considered the least refined cane sweetener and retaining beneficial aspects of the cane plant--and local fresh-squeezed orange juice.

To learn more about this wonderful chocolate go to 

Diego's chocolate can be purchased at several stores in the NJ/NY/PA area and online through Etsy shop
(use the coupon code ILOVECHOCOLATE to get 10% off).
Julianna Labruto & Nicholas Silverman
Distributors | Diego's Artisan Chocolate
Hecho Con Amor / Made With Love 

From a personal experience standpoint...

I was able to stop my cravings for sweets and processed foods by crowding out the bad stuff with nutrient dense greens and healthy fats in my diet. By eating a nutrient dense diet my cells and body are satisfied, my body doesn't think it is starving.  Let me give you a visual.  At Christmas we have a ton of goodies sent to our office (which we appreciate).  I can go into the kitchen and not even be tempted.  You will find once you eliminate sugar, processed foods and fast food, your body will no longer be able to tolerate these foods and in fact they will not taste good.  By adopting a healthy diet your taste buds will literally change, become more discerning and things that you used to crave will taste terrible.

The people that I see for health counseling that have adopted some of the healthy diet and lifestyle modifications listed below have noticed remarkable positive changes.  These individuals have more energy, are less moody, sleep better,  are better able to handle stress, lose weight, no longer have cravings, and most of all say that they have an overall feeling of well being despite what may be going on in their lives.  They are much more grounded and because they are eating nutrient dense food, their appetites are more easily satisfied and therefore they have no need to over-indulge.  One woman was even able to quit smoking as she was so content she had no more cravings for cigarettes!  
  As promised, what follows are tips for dealing with sugar addiction as well as deconstructing unhealthy cravings.  Additionally, there are forms of natural sweeteners and naturally sweet foods listed below.

"Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification and love"

Karl Petzke  

Chocolate is evidence of God's sweet love for us,

PS - Look below for March 25th Webinar link featuring Ben Briggs, who will be discussing Adrenal Faigue and Thyroid Dysfunction

The Eight Causes of Cravings 
The body is amazing. It knows when to go to sleep, when to wake up, and when to go to the bathroom. It maintains a temperature of 98.6 degrees, repairs itself when wounded, and knows the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. Your heart never misses a beat. Your lungs are always breathing. The body is a super computer, and it never makes mistakes. 
Look at the foods, deficits, and behaviors in your life that are the underlying causes of your cravings. Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance. When you experience a craving, deconstruct it. Ask yourself, what does my body want and why?
The eight causes of cravings are:
  1. Lack of primary food- Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little, or the wrong kind), being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of primary food.
  2. Water- lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first things to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water.
  3. Yin-Yang Imbalance- Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive), while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang). Eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for extremely cooked (dehydrated) foods or vise versa.
  4. Inside Coming Out- Often, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors, or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one's ancestral or childhood foods.
  5. Seasonal- Frequently the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods, and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions, and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil, and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like turkey, eggnog, or sweets.
  6. Lack of Nutrients- If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non nutritional forms of energy like caffeine.
  7. Hormonal- When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.
  8. De-Evolution- When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood sugar and may result in strong mood swings.

From Institute of Integrative Nutrition


10 Steps for Dealing with a Sugar Addiction
  1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine- The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, causing sugar cravings to be more frequent.
  2. Drink Water- Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and then wait a few minutes to see what happens. Caution: soft drinks are now America's number one source of added sugar.
  3. Eat Sweet Vegetables and Fruit- They are sweet, healthy and delicious. The more you eat, the less you'll crave sugar.
  4. Use gentle sweets- Avoid chemicalized, artificial sweeteners with added sugar. Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit, stevia, barley malt and agave nectar.
  5. Get physically active- Start with simple activities, like walking or yoga. Begin with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. It will help balance your blood sugar levels, boost your energy, and reduce tension without medicating yourself with sugar!
  6. Get more sleep, rest and relaxation- When you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy in the from of sugar. These cravings are often a result of being sleep-deprived, going to bed late or waking up early, sometimes for months and years on end.
  7. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat- Eating too much can lead to cravings for sweets. So can eating too little!   Experiment. Respect your body's individuality.
  8. Eliminate fat-free or low-fat packaged snack foods- These foods contain high  quantities of sugar to compensate for lack of flavor and fat, which will send you on the roller- coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.
  9. Experiment with spices- Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamon will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
  10. Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways- Your body does not biologically need sugar, but it does long for hugs, time with friends, outside time, workouts, massages, etc. When life becomes sweet enough for itself, no additives are needed!

 From: Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet

by Ann Louise Gittleman
2010 Integrative Nutrition

Here are some healthy sweet snack alternatives (remember organic when possible):

*Wheat-grass shot -  I start every morning with a 1/2 teaspoon of Wheat Grass Juice Powder mixed with 3-4 ounces of filtered water.  I take it on an empty stomach so it gets right into my system and gives my cells a nutrient-rich wake up call.  Within 15 minutes, I am energized and ready to take on my day.  As an aside, many of the clients I work with have adopted this practice and not only do they report more energy and vitality but also an overall feeling of wellness.  You might find that doing this will reduce or eliminate your need for a "caffeine jolt". 
*Organic Fresh fruit
*Organic yogurt or kefir with fruit or granola
*Apples and almond butter 
*Sprouted date bread with organic jam.
*Use leftover grains to make a sweet porridge - drizzle maple syrup, sprinkle cinnamon, add nuts and coconut milk, etc.
*Smoothies - In a blender mix fresh or frozen fruit (only two varieties at a time) ice, coconut water or nut milk, yogurt, avocado, kale or spinach, raw cacao powder, etc.
*Fruit "ice cream"  - peel a banana, freeze, blend in a food processor with nuts and berries.
*Sweet vegetables - yams, sweet potatoes, squashes(acorn, butternut, kabocha) cut into chunks or fries, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake
*Dates stuffed with almond butter
*Organic raw cacao powder, dark chocolate chips or carob chips.

Sweet Sensational Vegetables
Sweet vegetables soothe the internal organs of the body and energize the mind. Since many of these vegetables are root vegetables, they are energetically grounding, which helps to balance out the "spaciness" people often feel after eating other kinds of sweet foods. The addition of sweet vegetables helps to crowd out less healthy foods in the diet.
Sweet vegetables: corn, carrots, onions, beets, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, yams
Semi-sweet Vegetables:  Turnips, parsnips, rutabagas
Other vegetables: red radishes, dalkon, green cabbage, burdock. - these do not taste sweet, but have a similar effect on the body in that they maintain blood sugar levels, reduce sweet cravings and break down animal foods in the body.
Here is a favorite sweet recipe we use in our office created by our nurse Carol.
You will need:
Organic Raw Cacao Powder
Coconut Manna - a super food ( we use Nutiva because it is organic, gluten, GMO free)
The coconut manna comes as a solid so it has to be melted.
You can put it in the oven, put it in a pan of hot water or put some in a pan on the stove and gently heat, do not let it boil.
Once it has melted you can use what ever amount you want.  I usually separate the 15 oz glass jar into to smaller glass jars.

Mix the raw cacao powder with the melted coconut manna.
The more cacao you add the darker is will become.  I encourage taste testing until you reach your desired consistency and hue.
A couple of teaspoons is a very satisfying, a healthy and tasty sweet snack.

Be creative:

Add an organic sea salt and some organic almond butter to the coconut manna and cacao, (my version of a Reese's peanut butter cup). 

Coat organic raw almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with the mixture of raw cacao and coconut manna and then bake it at 300 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until the nuts get brown and roasted.

Another idea is to coat almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds with just a little melted coconut manna and organic sea salt and bake until nuts and seeds are roasted.

Either way the finished product is a perfect blend of sweet and salty that is out of this world.

For a salty, more roasted flavor, substitute organic butter for the coconut manna.
This goes great with feta cheese crumbles and oven warmed mixed olives.

On a plate covered with parchment paper mix the the melted coconut manna and cacao and pour over nuts and maybe raisins, sprinkle with organic sea salt and put in the freezer.  Once it hardens you have your own chocolate nut raisin bar.

Below is a conversion list for baking using sugar substitutes from IIN.
Replace 1C of white sugar with:
3/4 cup
Agave Nectar
Reduce 1/3 of total
Lower oven temp by 25 degrees
1 1/2 cups
Barley Malt Syrup
Reduce slightly
1 cup
Birch Sugar (xylitol)
Does not work well in breads or hard candies
1/2-3/4 cup
Birch Syrup
Reduce slightly
1 1/2 cups
Brown Rice Syrup
Reduce slightly
Good for hard or crunchy baked goods
2/3- 1 cup
Date Sugar
Burns easily
1/2- 3/4 cup
Reduce by 1/2 c: if no liquid add 3 tbs. flour for each 1/2 c. honey
Lower oven temp by 25 degrees
3/4 cup
Maple Syrup
Reduce by 3 tbs.
Add 1/4tsp. baking soda
1 cup
Maple Sugar
Add 1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup
1 cup
1 tsp.
Add 1/8 cup
You may have to experiment to get the ratio right
1 cup
Add 1/4 tsp. baking soda


Finally any discussion about chocolate would be incomplete if I failed to mention  one of my favorite movies on the subject.

Based on the novel by Joanne Harris,and staring Juliette Binoche, Chocolat features a distinguished supporting cast, including Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Carrie-Anne Moss, Peter Stormare, Hugh O'Conor, and Leslie Caron.

The plot of the movie revolves around the most tempting of all sweets which becomes the key weapon in a battle of sensual pleasure versus disciplined self-denial.   In 1959, a mysterious woman named Vianne (Juliette Binoche) moves with her young daughter into a small French village, where much of the community's activities are dominated by the local Catholic church. A few days after settling into town, Vianne opens up a confectionery shop across the street from the house of worship-- shortly after the beginning of Lent.
While the townspeople are supposed to be abstaining from worldly pleasures, Vianne tempts them with unusual and delicious chocolate creations, using her expert touch to create just the right chocolate to break down each customer's resistance.  

Fresh juice mix fruit, healthy drinks on wooden table.
Our webinar for this month will be on
 Wednesday, March 25 at 7:00pm,
Eastern Daylight Savings time.

Click on the link below to register.

Ben Briggs, RPH,CNC, IACP and owner of the Lionville Natural Pharmacy and Lionville Holistic Health Center will be our presenter. Ben is a natural Compound Pharmacist with a background in nutrition, herbal medicine, holistic therapies, Functional Endocrinology and hormone replacement therapy. He will be discussing Thyroid Dysfunction and Adrenal Fatigue, an epidemic of the 21st century.  The discussion will include the role of the thyroid and its impact on multiple body systems as a critical component of overall hormonal balance.  Working in conjunction with the thyroid, the adrenal glands secrete hormones that are essential to health and vitality.  Ben will offer solutions in the form of treatment options for regulation of the thyroid and adrenal glands for optimization of health.

Click here to register

Many thanks to all who participated in our February webinar, it was a great  success!  We had almost 100 attendees.  If you were unable to attend you can click on the link below to listen and view it from our archives. Once you click the link it will prompt you to enter your name and email address and take you into the webinar room.
Click on the link below to view archived newsletters.



Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this newsletter is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The contents of this newsletter are based upon the opinions and research of Liesha Getson and Health through Awareness, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information in this newsletter is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Liesha Getson and Health through Awareness. You are encouraged to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.




Liesha Getson, BCTT, HCC

100 Brick Road, Suite 206

Marlton, NJ 08053


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