I love creating in the kitchen, and creating chocolatey goodness that is actually HEALTHY is even better. This homemade chocolate made from raw cacao is just the way I like it - rich, dark and nutty like me. As someone with fructose malabsorption I can't eat honey and most sugars so I've adapted this recipe from http://butterbeliever.com/homemade-chocolate-recipe/ to use liquid sweetener that doesn't overload with fructose and added the nuts for a bit of protein. I've used both Rice Malt Syrup (can be found in the health food aisle from Coles), and Organic Maple Syrup. Rice Malt Syrup will make the chocolate more fudgy than the Maple Syrup (but that ain't necessarily a bad thing!).
You want the recipe?? Scroll down
Sugar-free Dark Nutty Chocolate
Other variations could be replacing the nuts with shredded coconut or coating strawberries.
So simple! Melt the coconut oil, then start to stir in all the other ingredients (except the nuts) until smooth. Place some parchment or wax proof paper on a tray, spread the nuts on the tray (depending on the size of the tray, you may need to just use half the space) and pour chocolate mixture over nuts. Place in the freezer.
This chocolate is best kept in the freezer.
Eat and enjoy with a cup of herbal tea.. yummy!
Without sounding like a Negative Nancy, I’m going to put it out there… for me, Winter just does not push my buttons. At all. Melbourne’s cold winds, being stuck indoors and lack of Vitamin D makes me feel out of sorts.
Then I start reaching for the chocolate and waiting with bated breath for season two of Australia's The Bachelor.
Yes, shame on my name I just admitted to that.
Winter is the ‘Vata season’ in Ayurveda (the sister science of Yoga) and we can feel anxious, flighty and unbalanced, so it’s super important to nourish our body, mind, soul, and replenish ready for Spring.
So, I’m thinking... instead of hibernating in TV reality trash land, it's the perfect time to nurture myself and take a mid-winter yoga retreat. Maybe even just at home...
Ayurveda says that when Vata is out of balance we should eat more warming, cooked foods. Which makes sense when our bodies usually crave winter 'comfort foods'. Keep it healthy with spicy cinnamon quinoa porridge for breakfast, and kitchari, stews or home made veggie soups for lunch and dinner.
Lose the winter blues with essential oils. I use an oil burner or drop a few drops of lavender oil into my bath at night to help with sleep. Look for blends of citrus oil to uplift you (lemon, sweet orange), to combat the cold use warming oils such as ginger and cinnamon leaf, and you can't beat the aroma of lavender before you hit the hay.
I've set up my own dedicated space in my house for Meditation and Pranayama where I can sit on a comfy cushion, burn some candles and zen out. It doesn't need to a big space, but just having a corner where you can meditate and burn a candle can help you slip into that space of bliss. Even if you just set aside 5-10 minutes for some mindful meditation it's a great way to start the (windy, rainy) day with a more positive mindset.
It's been said it takes 21 days to form a habit (good or bad!. Before I did my Yoga teacher training I didn't think it possible to make the time to practice Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama daily. But as part of our teacher training we had to keep a journal of our own self-practice and I realised that practicing Yoga daily doesn't HAVE to be a full one hour class. Try some gentle restorative postures before bed if you are feeling tired or have had a hectic day, but make that habit stick with your at home retreat by giving yourself the 21 day challenge.
Retreat from technology
I generally try and abide by my 'no screens after 8.30 rule'. As someone who often suffers from insomnia this really helps me get a good night of shut eye. The 'blue light' emitted from your iPhone screen makes the body think it's daytime, so try not to check your messages when you can't sleep at night. Better still, switch if off for a day so you can truly retreat.
Connect with nature
I find when I'm feeling all sluggish and blah, I'm usually craving a bit of connection with nature. It's proven that getting out in the outdoors can help with stress, anxiety and depression. So rug up warm and get out for a walk to connect to nature, even if it's just in your local park (you get the added bonus of patting all the cute dogs!)
So there we have it, my little winter do it yourself health retreat tips. Let me know how you go!
If you can, then going on a weekend or longer Yoga retreat can really help rejuvinate and kick start your own winter yoga routine, here are a few listed below.
Byron Yoga Centre 8 day ‘Wellness Retreat‘
19 July – 26 July $1995
Head up to gorgeous Byron Bay for a retreat with the Byron Yoga Centre. Their wellness retreat combines yoga, meditation and pranayama as well as an evening program with discussion on nutrition, wellness and Ayurveda. Retreat cost includes:
· share accommodation
· nutritional balanced healthy meals
· 3 treatments (shiatsu massage, ayurvedic massage, reflexology or cranio-sacral therapy)
· Twice daily yoga
· Talks on ways to make positive life style changes
· Kirtan evening
Weekend retreats in VIC
Yin Yoga retreat Le Yoga, Daylesford
01 Aug – 03 Aug - $545
The lovely Jennifer Crescenzo who is facilitating the 200 hour teacher training at The Yoga Social with Ambika is holding a Yin retreat at Lè.Yoga Daylesford. Explore the restorative qualities of Yin Yoga in a very private retreat in the natural springs are. The meditative and restorative quality of Yin yoga is perfect for this time of year, and Jennifer will also focus on the Five Element Theory and how it can enhance self-awareness and self-understanding. Included in the retreat price is twin accommodation and home-cooked meals.
Foundations Yoga retreat with Sunjay
15 Aug – 17 Aug
Foundations Yoga Retreat covers the fundamental principles of physical and mental yogic practice suitable for beginners and those more experienced yogis.
This retreat is being held at the stunning Amarant Retreat in the the Yarra Valley, just outside Melbourne, and will include:
• Foundations of Yoga – Patanjali 8 Limbs
• Vinyasa Yoga • Pranayama
• Ayurvedic Vegetarian Meals
• Still and Active Meditation
Visit yogasunjayretreats.com for more information
The Yoga Social Team