Chocolate’s charm

Fix Your Plate by Tara Reeves

Indulging in the sweet, velvety world of chocolate is a universal joy that transcends time and borders. Let’s explore the rich history, surprising health benefits, and the irresistible charm that makes chocolate the sweetheart of treats.

Derived from the cacao bean, chocolate has a history as fascinating as its flavour. Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, like the Aztecs and Mayans, revered cacao as divine, using it in ceremonial drinks. Fast forward to the 16th century, when Spanish colonisers brought this heavenly elixir to Europe. Chocolate swiftly conquered the hearts of the elite, earning a place in royal courts and becoming synonymous with luxury.

Chocolate, beyond its delectable taste, surprises with remarkable health benefits. Dark chocolate, often hailed as a superfood, is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, championing heart health and stress reduction. Indulging in a bite or two not only provides a serotonin boost, fostering a warm, fuzzy feeling but also establishes chocolate as the ultimate comfort food. This delightful treat offers more than just flavour; it significantly supports cardiovascular well-being by enhancing blood flow and reducing blood pressure. The mood-boosting effects, stemming from the release of endorphins and serotonin, contribute to stress reduction. Studies hint at cognitive enhancements, including memory, while essential minerals like magnesium support overall bodily functions.

In today’s world, chocolate’s popularity knows no bounds. From Swiss masterpieces to Belgian pralines, to Mexican cacao ceremonies, each corner of the globe adds its unique twist to this delightful confection. Whether it’s a gooey brownie, silky truffle, or a classic chocolate bar, there’s a treat for every palate. Around the world, the sweet scent of chocolate wafts through cities, drawing people in with its irresistible allure.

But there’s more to chocolate than just its taste. As February rolls around each year, sharing and gifting chocolate becomes a special way to express love on Valentine’s Day. Each piece of chocolate is like a sweet message, saying things that might be hard to put into words. It turns a simple box of chocolates into a lovely symbol of affection.

Yet, chocolate isn’t confined to romantic rendezvous alone. It’s a trusted companion during lonely movie nights, a mood lifter in times of stress, and a silent celebration in moments of joy. The versatility of chocolate is akin to a good friend, always ready to lift your spirits, no matter the occasion.

In the grand tapestry of culinary delights, chocolate stands out as a masterpiece woven with history, health benefits, global appeal, and a touch of romantic magic. So, whether you’re treating yourself to a quiet moment of bliss or sharing a box of chocolates with a loved one, remember that each bite is a celebration of centuries of flavour evolution and the enduring joy that only chocolate can bring!

Maca Hot Chocolate
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder
1 teaspoon maca powder
½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 dashes cinnamon
1 dash sea salt
1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions
1. Heat almond milk and coconut oil in a saucepan.
2. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until frothy.
3. Serve and enjoy!