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HEART WARMING RECIPE AND NUTRITIONAL TIPS
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Valentine Rawlos

Who knew that chocolate could be good for your health and boost your metabolism? Raw chocolate is simply brimming with goodness. Packed with antioxidants, rich in magnesium and sulphur and a proven mood-booster. If that wasn?t enough, Cacao can stimulate your metabolism and also act as an aphrodisiac. This multi-performing superfood is great for adding to smoothies (powdered form is best, but nibs work well too) or hot drinks, preparing raw energy bites/cakes and is also easily moulded into beautiful raw chocolates.

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You will need:

Approximately 6 tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder

Approximately 6 tablespoons Coconut Oil

2-4 tablespoons Agave, Maple syrup, Date syrup or Honey (or any other liquid sweetener)

1. Boil some water in a saucepan and place a bowl over the top to melt the Oil in. Slowly stir in the Cacao powder when the oil has reached a liquid consistency, taking the bowl out of the saucepan. Also stir in the liquid sweetener at this point.

2. Pour the mixture into moulds (maybe heart-shaped?) and embellish with Coconut flakes, Goji berries, Chia, Edible glitter and place in the fridge to set.

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Last month, we spoke about the health benefits of going refined sugar-free. There are many sugar-free alternatives out there, but how healthy are they really and is it just sugar under a different name? There seem to be a lot of competing opinions regarding this matter but the most natural sugar can be derived from fruit and here at Natureworks, we can?t get enough of Dates as a wholesome sugar alternative. Great for digestive and heart health, full of essential vitamins and minerals and an all-round energising sweet treat that doesn?t compromise blood sugar levels (when consumed in moderation). Dates are great for baking with, due to their sticky texture, make a fabulous addition to many savoury dishes such as tagines and salads and Date syrup or paste provides a perfect flavour match for (a guilt-free) coffee. Dates are further complemented by bananas, cinnamon, vanilla, oranges, chicory, walnuts and chilli.

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Instead of opting for sugar-laden, nutritionally dead condiments, fresh herbs are fantastic for bringing out the flavour in food. Window box herbs are a great (and cheap) way to ensure that you always have something on hand to spruce up dishes at short notice and there is something innately satisfying about growing your own food. Window box herbs are accessible to everyone, are pretty low maintenance, and are the perfect accessory to any kitchen. Mint, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Chives, Rosemary and Sage are easiest to grow in this way and the culinary possibilities with just a handful of these herbs are endless!

vegetables

Carbohydrates are often given a bad reputation but the fact is, our bodies need them, especially if you lead an active lifestyle. It?s best for your body to stick to food in it?s most natural form. Michael Pollan, author of ?In Defence of Food?, sums this up perfectly with his simple suggestion, ?Eat food, not too much, mostly plants?. Instead of refined carbohydrates such as mass produced bread, pasta and rice, vegetables provide a powerhouse of slow-releasing, energising and stabilising carbohydrates to the body, with particular reference to root vegetables including Parsnips, Carrots, Swede, Turnips, Beetroot, Celeriac and Sweet and regular Potatoes, all of which contain their own, unique healing properties. Root veggies gain further brownie points for their versatility; they can be enjoyed roasted, mashed, boiled or sauteed? and are great in soups, curries and hot-pots.

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Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day. Whatever your stance on the matter, it cannot be denied that the way you start your day is highly influential on the way your day pans out and skipping breakfast sabotages your adrenal levels, wrecks havoc with your memory and concentration and can actually cause weight retention. A nice analogy is to imagine your body like a car, without fuel, or with the wrong fuel, it cannot go anywhere. Food, in this case, breakfast, should be viewed in the same light. What you consume for breakfast should be indicative of what you will require from your body that day. Eggs, Avocado, Salmon, Chia, Oats, Seeds, Nuts, Leafy Greens, Berries and Bananas are great morning options (obviously not together). Cooked breakfasts are ideal but if you are strapped for time, a green smoothie is another clever way to meet all your nutritional needs and you can even add in a few energising superfoods such as Spirulina, Maca, Cacao, Baobab or Lucuma.

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