mediterranean diet
Real chocolate is a health food.

When asked if I'm a vanilla or chocolate person, I always say vanilla. But chocolate is a major staple in my diet. I have at least one square every single day...for my health, and then of course for the good taste. Teehee.

Chocolate is associated with Valentine's day because there is a connection between it and the heart, along with promoting blissful, loving feelings. Just some of chocolate's benefits:

* Chocolate contains antioxidants that protect the body from aging cause by free radicals, which can lead to heart disease.
* It's an excellent source of magnesium (at least 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium), which balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, helps regulate heartbeat (blood pressure), diabetes, and even ease PMS.
* It's a great source of essential fats. Not all fats are bad, and luckily chocolate fat is one of them!  It contains the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that is found in olive oil, that raises good cholesterol.
* Chocolate increases the levels of anandamide in our brains, so it promotes relaxation and feelings of love. Funfact: Ananda in Sanskrit translates to BLISS.

It's important to note that when I speak of chocolate, I'm referring to it as close to it's natural state as possible so that you can benefit from the wide array of it's nutrients. Commercially produced chocolate such as Hershey's, Russell Stover, Godiva, Mars (Reeses, M&Ms, Snickers, Dove, etc.), Ghirardelli and many more, are loaded with GMOs, additives, dairy, and most importantly SUGAR. Opt for an organic cacao (or cocoa) powder such as this one. Check out the recipe below to make your own chocolate so that you don't have to worry about all of the harmful ingredients that are in most chocolate on the shelves.

Nourish yourself and your family by enjoying foods that it will thrive on, not get sick from.
It's the ultimate act of LOVE.  Happy Valentine's day!


Lauren Forney, HHC, RYT  *   Holistic Health Coach  *  Registered Yoga Teacher
Please visit my website at Center Your Health & follow me on Find us on Facebook or Instagram
Chocolate Grows on Trees!
Lammer learning about the chocolate tree - sucking on some raw chocolate pods!
Last year, during our stay in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, we came across a chocolate tree! We were roaming the mountain with a Rasta and he was pointing out all of the incredible fruit bearing trees - mango, avocado, banana, grapefruits, etc. Then he started nodding his head and smiling, saying, "Chocolate, chocolate!"

I thought it was too good to be true!

I was in awe of the tree. He brought us right over to it, plucked off a large fruit and started telling us stories of how as a kid he would crack the fruits open and feast on them with his friends. He opened one for us to taste. They were these white, slimy pods that you had to suck on, then spit out. The inside of those pods were where the cacao beans could be found. We felt like we were wasting it just enjoying the outside and not the true deliciousness of the bean inside!  However, if you've ever had raw chocolate, you've noticed that it's bitter and not anything like what we have been conditioned to think chocolate tastes like.
Spiced Chocolate Bark

I enjoy a square of dark chocolate everyday for my health. Ok, maybe 2. Or 3. Anyway, recently I've found that I instantly get a headache and/or stomach ache right after eating a store bought chocolate bar...even the high quality brands. I was determined to create my own, so here is my spiced chocolate for Valentine's day. It's sweet, a little salty and a bit spicy. Sweet, naturally (YES!), and full of healthy, satiating fats. Salty, because sea salt is great for our health and re-mineralization. Spicy, because warming foods like cayenne pepper and ginger raise the heat in our bodies...especially, (ahem), down there, to further get us "in the mood!" 



1/2 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder
2 - 3 tablespoons 100% grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons smooth sunflower seed butter (or cashew, coconut, almond butter, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

handful raw pecans, crushed
about 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated (can add more/less to your liking)
sprinkle cayenne pepper (optional)
light sprinkle of chunky sea salt
sprinkle raw sugar


Crush your pecans and set aside. Melt your coconut oil and mix all of the top ingredients well. Pour into a bread baking pan or dish - mixture will start to harden, so get right to adding your toppings. Sprinkle cayenne pepper (if you're using) very gently, then add sea salt and raw sugar. Top with crushed pecans. Place directly into freezer. About 30-minutes or so later, carefully use a sharp knife to break chocolate into bite-sized chunks. Keep cold, it will get soft if left out at room temperature. Savor each's Divine!   


Note: If you're someone who is highly sensitive to chocolate, give CAROB a try. It's a yummy alternative to chocolate, with many health benefits, too! 

Center Your Health's BLOG & Archive 
Here's what I've been blogging about during this past month:

Eat the Yolks
Simple & Hearty Egg Muffins
Stay positive & smile
You are what you eat so...
Lavender Foot Soak
Reflective Journaling
Expired food in your pantry
How 'bout them apples?

If you're behind on some newsletters, here is a full archive