The answer is definitely, YES!
When defining chocolate I don't mean a Snicker bar can be medicine, but traditional raw cocoa or good quality dark chocolate can be. Let me explain further as I tell a story of a very old tradition, one created for the gods.
~A Ceremony of Tradition~
A couple weeks ago my sister and I attended a moon and Cocoa sound healing ceremony. It was a traditional cocoa ceremony that was held to celebrate the special lunar events of the moon trifecta that hasn't happened in 150 Years. January 31st, 2018 was to have the three lunar events take place at the same time, the Blue Super Moon, the Blood moon, and a Lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, that evening ended up being the one night of the week it rained here on Oahu, so I didn't get to experience the Eclipse, but the Super Blue blood moon was beautiful over the ocean.
The ceremony took place on a beautiful lanai overlooking Hawaii Kai marina that belonged to one of our friends Marni Reynolds and the owner of Om&Roam, LLC.
It was a clear calm night with hardly any clouds in the sky, the moon was shining bright and the atmosphere was full of smiles, love, bright energy, and wonderful new friends to meet. The lanai was filled with benches and meditation pillows strung through out the floor, and calming bistro lights hung from above. The smell of incense and Peru Palo Santo was in the air, you could hear relaxing meditation music in the background behind the soft chatter of those around us.
The ceremony began with a introduction of the guest host, Katy Cox, a nutritional therapist and chef with EverEssence Offerings, that has studied the ancient traditional cocoa ceremonies in Mexico and has become a true cocoa enthusiast. Katy began by telling us about the cocoa plant, where it comes from, and the ancient traditional uses of the cocoa. She then went on to tell us about her journey learning about cocoa, the traditional ceremonies practiced in Mexico, and the benefits of cocoa, which I will get to later on.
We began the ceremony by forming a circle and passing around bowls filled with the " food of the gods, " which is the literal translation of the cocoa species name "Theobroma Cocoa." in Greek nomenclature. The wonderful aroma of chocolate filled the air as we passed every cup around the circle until everyone had one, leaving our own loving energy and intentions in ever cup we passed.
Once everyone had a cup we all enjoyed our first sips together. The texture was smooth and creamy. The taste had splashes of cinnamon, coconut milk, cayenne pepper, and a bit of honey all of which matched perfectly with the slight bitter goodness of the raw cocoa chocolate. The taste, texture, and overall warm comforting feeling had our tongues craving more. You can find this traditional Mexican recipe on Everessence's blog, here.
Once we finished our cocoa offerings we all joined together in a musical serenade of sound healing meditation and the beautiful vocals of Luci Lynch.
We all laid down, got comfortable with our yoga mats, pillows, and blankets because by this time it had gotten chilly even with our bellies all filled with warmth from the traditional cocoa drink. Once relaxed and settled, we all were whisked away to our own intentions and meditative states while we lay idle listening to the various tones of sound healing singing bowls, gongs, and chants. If you have not heard the sounds of singing bowls it is rather a unique and beautiful serenade of tones that are created just as the sound frequencies from rubbing your finger around the rim of a wine glass filled with water can create, but at a much lower frequency. Listen to one of my favorite sound healing tones on you tube here.
The music took my mind to a place of center, relaxation, and calmed my internal mind of the daily ruckus. It was a beautiful internal peace that left me feeling amazing and full of energy.
What is Theobroma Cocoa?
So now, your asking yourself what is "Theobroma Cocoa" and why is it known as the "food of the gods". Theobroma Cocoa is the plant commonly known as the cocoa tree. This species of understory trees are what produce the elongated fruits or cocoa pods that house the cocoa beans within their tangy white fruit pulp. It is from this seed that the "food of the gods" is created or otherwise known as Chocolate.
Cocoa trees grow in tropical regions all around the globe, most of which are found in Africa, Mesoamerica, and the Amazon, but there are a small few that come from Hawaii. This is where my small knowledge of cocoa comes from as our friends Dylan & Tamara Butterbaugh own Manoa Chocolate, where they and their awesome team grow and make their own bean to bar craft chocolate here in Kailua, Hawaii. You can visit their website and order some of your own cocoa treats to try here.
The trees bloom tiny dime sized flowers directly from their trunks that only a single fly called "midges" are able to pollinate the flowers to create the large pods. After the pods are harvested, the white pulp and seeds are put into large fermenting bins that break down the enzymes in the fruit and leave a nice bitter cocoa bean that is layed out to dry. Then the beans are roasted to create the flavor palette unique to the chocolate makers recipe and desired flavor of chocolate similar to roasting coffee beans. From there the beans are shelled, crushed into cocoa nibs and then ground in grinders along with a certain percentage of sugar to make chocolate.
When it comes to bean to bar dark chocolate, the percentage is the key! A good quality dark chocolate should be 80% cocoa or higher, which basically means the other 20% or less is some type of sugar, in Manoa's case it is organic cane sugar. If you have milk chocolate the cocoa is mixed with a percentage of milk and sugar which in Manoa's case are their bars that contain 75% cocoa or lower.
The Good from the Bad!
So you are probably wondering what the difference is between a bean to bar craft chocolate and a commercial chocolate candy bar is? Well there is a BIG difference. In our modern day traditions of commercial food industries and highly processed foods, some chocolate gets thrown into that category, the difference being the quality of ingredients and how it is processed. Most commercial chocolate candy bars are processed using lower quality cocoa beans and mixed with refined white sugar and vegetable fats that reduce and basically deplete all the nutrients that the cocoa once had.
Dark bean to bar craft chocolate, on the other hand, specifically 80% cocoa or higher houses a vast array of natural medicinal benefits that mother nature her self has provided us with, all of which feed our bodies vital antioxidants and minerals rather than creating a mass addiction to sugar.
~The Good Stuff- Medicinal Benefits of Cocoa~
Well now that you know the good chocolate from the bad chocolate, let's tell you what you can gain from adding a little bit of this " food of the gods" to your diet. As, the Aztecs and Mayans before us once knew, cocoa is truly a food for the gods as it has been used in traditional ceremonies dated back 3,000 years ago as offerings to the gods known as "bitter water", used in healing practices, and even used as currency.
Cocoa is loaded with nutritional properties such as, antioxidants, saturated and unsaturated good fats, a small amount of protein, and trace minerals of Magnesium, Potassium, and Iron. Cocoa is thought to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing high blood pressure and assisting the body as a vasodilator, so the blood can take up to 40% more oxygen. The ultimate reason why I use and believe raw cocoa or a traditional cocoa drink is a wonderful treat for Cysitc fibrosis individuals to incorporate into their diet to help increase the amount of oxygen our bodies are consuming without wreaking havoc on our blood sugar.
Cocoa also has a property known as Theobromine which is a caffeine-like stimulant that contains compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier and act on the central nervous system to stimulate the production of Dopamine in the brain, which is one of the many neurotransmitters our bodies make that control our moods, ultimately increasing those 'oh so good happy vibes' that chocolate often has on people.
So, with much Aloha and Love, I encourage you to add dark chocolate or cocoa nibs to your daily lives through diet and indulge yourself in the vast array of medicinal properties it has to offer not only in rich nutrients, but in creating the tradition of a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Check out some of my favorite cocoa products from Manoa Chocolate here.
Cocoa Nibs, Cocoa Tea, and much much more!
You can visit Manoa Chocolate's website and order some of your own cocoa treats to incorporate into your own life, and if your visiting Hawaii you can book a factory tour as well.
Also, check out my famous Cocoa Nibs Banana Bread recipe on our website Recipe page here. Hope you Enjoy!!