Junk Food... it's hard to resist! Cravings hit and it's tempting to turn to that bag of chips, store-brand cookies, and whatever else may be hidden in our cabinets.
But it's important that we remind ourselves that poor nutrition leads to and exacerbates mental illness. If we focus on a nutrient-dense, personalized diet, our mind and body will thank us. Changing our diet takes time and patience!
So, to help you choose healthier options, I am sharing one of my favorite yummy, chocolate recipes from my newest book, Natural Woman: Herbal Remedies for Radiant Health at Every Age and Stage of Life. It's perfect for when the cravings hit!
Chocolate Cayenne Coconut Joy
Makes 24 candies
My husband Rudolph created this chocolate cayenne coconut joy candy. Making this requires a few hours in the afternoon, so gather the kids together and make a pile of healthy candy for everyone to enjoy. This recipe makes plenty of candy that can be frozen for future use. It's the perfect brain food!
½ cup blue agave, raw local honey, or maple syrup; or 20 to 25 drops of liquid stevia
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly packed
¼ to ¾ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, depending on your taste
17 ounces dark chocolate (no sugar added), chopped or broken into small pieces
30 to 35 lightly roasted and unsalted almonds
1. In a saucepan, bring the agave to a low boil over medium heat. Add the butter and melt it, stirring occasionally. Once fully integrated, remove from heat and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coconut slowly, stirring until it is fully coated. Then add the cayenne. Note: when making the candy with children in mind, set aside some of the mixture before adding the cayenne in case the kids don't like the "heat."
2. Put a sheet of parchment paper on a clean cutting board. Pour the agave coconut mixture onto the parchment paper, spreading it with a spatula or the flat side of a knife. Spread the mixture to about a ½-inch thickness. Form into a 9 x 4-inch rectangle and cover with another piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin or bottle, lightly roll the mixture outward until it is about ¼ inch thick. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, remove the top parchment, then cut the mixture into strips about 1 inch wide. Working crosswise cut the strips again into 2-inch rectangles (Tip: Coat your knife with butter to keep the mixture from sticking). Slide the coconut squares, still on their parchment, onto a half-sheet pan, allowing them to set in the refrigerator while you prepare the chocolate.
3. Next, create a double boiler for the chocolate. Put the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water but don't allow the bowl to touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring constantly with a spatula, until it is smooth. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat.
4. Place another piece of parchment paper on the cutting board. Working quickly while the chocolate is still warm, spread a thin layer of the chocolate into a rectangle that is more or less the size of the sheet of coconut squares, using only half of the melted chocolate. When finished, place it in the refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes or until firm. Remove the coconut squares and chocolate from the refrigerator and immediately turn out the coconut squares on top of the chocolate. Press down firmly using your hands. Remove the parchment from the coconut. Using a knife, separate the coconut and chocolate squares following the cuts made earlier.
5. Top each coconut square with a roasted almond. Using a spoon, ladle the rest of the melted chocolate across the coconut squares, creating an even layer. Refrigerate the pan for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. Recut the squares and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Looking for more help implementing an optimal diet? Join my course, The Brainbrow Blueprint for Mental Health and check out my book, Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health: A Complete Guide to the Food-Mood Connection, with step-by-step instructions for preparing good mood food.
Leslie Korn has lived and worked in Banderas Bay since 1973 conducting research in Traditional Medicine of Mexico. She is a Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health-educated clinician in clinical practice in Mental Health Nutrition, Integrative Medicine and the prevention of dementia and cognitive decline. She is the author of 8 books, including 'Natural Woman: Herbal Remedies for Radiant Health at Every Age and Stage of Life.' To learn more about her work, visit DrLeslieKorn.com. She can be reached at lekorn(at)cwis.org.
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