How’s It Going and Steamed-Cocoa

I started this blog at the end of March, in response to my complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion.  I started to think about what needed to change, because a month after having Influenza, I still was not recovered.  I was not sleeping.  I was completely stressed. Work was suffering. Love was suffering.  I could no longer feed  all the things I cared about. Hell, I couldn’t even be funcitonal for 8 hours!  I realized I knew what to do. I just wasn’t actually doing it.

In thinking about the blog, I realized that I have accumulated a great deal of knowledge, and I wanted to turn that into wisdom. I wanted not only to bring accountability to myself, but also to share and encourage others. While I write about me, I am also doing so for you.

So my report: It is week 4 of this project – Project Repair Myself: It’s going well! I feel better! Definitely better.  Though this is surely multi-factorial, I have to admit I think it is mostly due to the Nettles And Sleep.

When I first started, I was just drinking nettle tea. I could feel the difference in my energy on the days I drank the tea vs. the day I did not. I got pretty sick of the plain nettle tea, i have to admit.  So I mixed it with Genmaichi – green tea with toasted rice. This is excellent and I can drink it every day, without boredom.

I also started making (and eating) the Be Better Bonbons, a source of nettle, astragalus, and ashwaganda. Lastly, this week’s batch of Walking Oatmeal also contained Nettles and herbs. So I am getting my medicine in my food every day.

What I notice: After 2 weeks, I was able, finally, to sleep at night without sleep medication, even homeopathics. This is grand! This is Super! Wonderful! I could go on, but I won’t.

Actually I will:  I am going to talk about sleep some more. I enforced a strict 9 pm bedtime for the first 2 weeks. Now my daughter tells me when it’s time to go to bed –  and chastises me if I don’t!  I think it’s good for both of us.  It sucks on the weekends; we both wake up by 7:30 even though we want to sleep in.  The 9 pm bedtime is hardest on are my fiancé and myself. He works nights, and often our time to just sit down and talk begins at 9 pm. But sleep is an ultimate healer, so it’s worth it.

I gave up almost all my caffeine. This is actually a white lie, I still make a cup of black tea in the morning, but I rarely drink more than half of it. I feed the other half to my plants.  However, I did replace my second cup of black tea (or a latte coffee!) with steamed coconut milk and plain cocoa powder. This drink is better when made with coconut milk without added sugar.

***

Steamed Coconut Cocoa

1- 1.5 cups plain coconut milk

(fill your mug 3/4 with ‘milk’ – steaming expands the liquid volume)

1 Tbs Cocoa powder

(Yes – I do mean baking cocoa powder)

Steam 1 – 2 minute. If you have an esspresso machine, you will here the tone change when it is hot enough.  You may need to stir the cocoa remaining on the top, into the drink. If you do not have a steamer, try warming the coconut milk in the microwave ~ 2 minutes, or heating it on the stove, until just before boiling.

Options: You can replace the coconut milk with milk or any milk replacer. That seems rather obvious, I guess.  If you have a sweeter tooth, vanilla coconut milk works well.

***

Personally, I really like the reduced sweetness of unsweetened coconut milk. Vanilla coconut milk, while it has only 80 calories/cup, is still sweet. The plain coconut milk, 45 calories/cup, makes a completely different drink.  It takes a moment to adjust, so don’t expect sweet cocoa. However, I think if you open your mind to it, perhaps as a hot morning drink (coffe/tea) replacement, you might find it is quite nice.  Again – this past the taste test of a sweet toothed daughter and myself.

Other options exist, of course. Milk is just fine. In fact, milk, when steamed, becomes sweeter, as the lactose becomes galactose and glucose (I can’t beleive I actually remembered that, but thank you organic chemistry, I did.) So you can easily start with milk and have a sweet-enough drink – also passing the daughter taste test.

While I am not saying coffe or tea are bad, for many reasons this cocoa drink beats coffee and tea for my current purposes.  Studies have shown strong evidence that cocoa is good for the cardiovascular system, reduces strokes, reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cancer.  It is asssociated in reducing cognitive decline in aging.  I suspect it’s better medicine if you don’t mix it with toxic good for nothing delicious sugar, don’tch think?! My tongue tells me sugar is bad for me. My doctor does too. In fact everywhere I turn I hear that: and I believe it.  Giving it up is a much more difficult than knowing you should!

I know there are stimulants, including the methylxanthines; theobromine and caffeine, in the cocoa. However, cocoa has a lot less caffeine than coffee or tea: cocoa ~5 mg, tea 47 mg, coffee 160 mg.  It has feel good/ mood modifying compounds like phenethylamine, which promotes the release of  the opiate-like endorphins.  (AAah! I LOVE that part!)  It increases serotonin, which adds to the sense of well-being, and this may be one reason people, especially premenstral women, self-medicate with chocolate.  Women are more sensitive to cocoa than men, a fact I did not know!

In the past I‘ve ranged from drinking a daily latte, various amounts of black coffee, then weaned down to two cup of black tea with milk and sugar, or milk and honey.   When I was off the coffee, I used to drink 2 or 3 cups of tea, with 2 teaspoons of sugar each.  When I kicked the white sugar out, I still had 2-3 tablespoons of honey a day in my tea.  My body still wasn’t happy with that.  I don’t feel as well thoughout the day, when I drink those items.

I think the change to very little caffeine/sugar has made a big difference. I think the move to sugarless drinks is heading in the right direction.  I especially believe in supporting health with ongoing consumption of plant products.  Self medicating – I am all for that!  That’s what I am here blogging about.  Natural health supporting plant based self-medication! Cocoa! Nettle leaf! Oatmeal!  Yeah, baby! Exciting stuff!

All of these changes make sleep a possibility. It has only been the last 10-14 days, however, that sleep has readily happened.

My energy, while not as great as I was used to before this year of stress, it lasts pretty steadily throughout the day. Most days. The huge sags mid-morning, post-lunch, at dinner, and early evening, have evened out. I still lay down after working long days, but it is much less frequent that I cannot function at all without a ‘nap.’  While I may go to my car to escape, I don’t usually nap, much less sleep-like-the-dead.

Self care, like this, is hard to continue long term. I hope to make these behaviour patterns into habits that can be sustained, even when I go on auto pilot.

Next steps: exercise and meditation. Then refining what I have already done. Then keep doing it. Again, and again.

 

-Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine.”

by Tama Cathers

 

Good link to the medicine of cocoa, with studies quoted, but not referenced: http://www.medicinehunter.com/cocoa-health-miracle

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