emotional health, food, food allergy, recipe

For the love of chocolate

I've made this several times and this is the best photo I have so it'll just have to do!
I’ve made this several times and this is the best photo I have so it’ll just have to do!

A great friend who I have not seen in a very long time texted me yesterday and said she had a dream where the two of us found a secret stash of chocolate. Ah! The perfect dream.

So, it’s Valentine’s Day.

Which has really become a commercial occasion – but hey, it’s still nice to celebrate love. So instead of buying some sort of generic gift, why not make your loved ones a chocolate heart from your secret stash? There’s nothing like presenting a chocolate heart with a blunt knife to someone close to you and saying “go on, break my heart.”

I found the basic idea for the chocolate heart in a book and adapted it a little for a gathering I was going to – it was my job to bring a finger-food style dessert. And then, a stroke of genius hit me: instead of pouring the melted chocolate into a boring old square tin, why not use a heart shaped one? It was a hit. Even with the non-chocoholics in the group. (Yes, there is such a thing as a non-chocoholic apparently.)

So here’s the recipe. It’s not dairy-free if you use the small amount of white chocolate – so vary the types of chocolate as you wish. The white chocolate just makes it look pretty but definitely is not essential.

Two things I will say is:

  • Use fair trade chocolate – it’s worth paying the real price for what it costs to produce ethical chocolate,
  • And, good quality dark chocolate has quite a few health benefits when eaten in moderation.

The Chocolate Heart

Ingredients:

  • 300g dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa & dairy-free)
  • 1 cup of mixed fruits and nuts (I used crystallised ginger, toasted blanched almonds, dried blueberries and goji berries)
  • 100g white chocolate

Method:

  1. Line a heart-shaped tin (or whatever shape you’d prefer – about 15-20cm²) with plastic wrap. Make sure to have as few creases in the wrap as is possible.
  2. Melt dark chocolate (70% +) in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently steaming water. (Make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl).
  3. When melted, mix fruit and nuts into the dark chocolate.
  4. Pour chocolate mix into the prepared tin.
  5. In another bowl, melt the white chocolate.
  6. When melted, spoon the white chocolate on top of dark chocolate in the tin and muddle it with a skewer to create a marbled effect.
  7. Refrigerate for an hour or so until set.
  8. Peel the plastic wrap away to serve.
  9. You will end up with a thick block of fruit and nut chocolate. Serve it on a wooden board with a blunt knife to break it up.

Happy Valentines Day! May you all enjoy a piece of  broken heart. 🙂

And as a side note, if you are struggling with a real broken heart you might like to read this.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, emotional health, health, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The acupuncturist and the broken heart

Today is the 16th February, just two days after Valentine’s Day.  It’s gorgeous to see that many people are wandering around still exhibiting the after-glow generated by gifts of flowers, chocolates, champagne and time with their loved one. (Although, shouldn’t it be like this most of the time?)

Valentine’s Day, even though it’s origins are in nothing more significant than a greeting card marketing exercise, has become symbolic to many as a day to celebrate romantic love.  This day has been responsible for igniting new love, but sadly, with the pressures it brings, has also been known to be a catalyst in the demise of relationships.

Recently, I have seen several patients in my clinic, looking for support in matters of the heart.  (Yes, who would have thought it?  Acupuncture can do more than just relieve physical pain!)  So, today it seems timely to discuss ‘the broken heart’ from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective.

Break-ups are rarely ever easy, for either partner, and the emotions they conjure up can create undesired effects in our bodies.  The old saying “time heals all wounds” is applicable here as the broken-hearted embark on an emotional journey (often laced with mysterious physical symptoms like nausea or muscle tension) to mend.  When these issues do not resolve in a timely manner, professional counselling is highly recommended.

The five element theory that is deeply rooted within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gives us some clues in treating matters of the heart.  This theory pairs the organs of the body with emotional states.  Whilst, the heart is seen as the organ that is tied to our ‘spirit’, many other organs are also tied to common emotions that may be experienced following a break up.  I should point out here, that in TCM each organ is given some additional ‘energetic’ functions in addition to their biomedical functions so you can have a TCM ‘liver disorder’ without having a physical liver problem.

So, simply and generally put, the five elements can explain some of the mental and physical symptoms of a broken heart as follows:

  • Fire Element – Heart and pericardium – the pericardium is the protector of the heart and emotionally characterised by feeling anxious or a lack of joy.  Physical symptoms may include insomnia, palpitations or inappropriate behaviour.
  • Wood Element – Liver – for feelings of anger, ‘stuckness’, resentment, irritation, frustration, depression and mood swings.  Physical symptoms may include neck and shoulder tension, chest tightness, nausea and digestive disorders that have a direct correlation to your emotional state.
  • Earth Element – Spleen & Stomach – for feelings of worry, obsessive thoughts and inability to concentrate.  Physical symptoms may include lack of appetite, low energy, digestive disorders and sweet cravings.
  • Metal Element – Lungs – when grief and sadness are the principal feelings surrounding the break-up.  Physical symptoms may include low energy, respiratory disorders, concave chest posture, weak voice and skin problems.
  • Water Element – Kidneys – when fear is a primary emotion.  Physical symptoms may include poor memory, urinary problems, reproductive system disorders and lower back ache.

Through discussing a person’s emotional and physical symptoms an individualised acupuncture treatment for supporting someone with ‘love sickness’ can be designed.  It would usually include some lifestyle advice so that the patient may begin to take control of their own situation and feel better, more quickly, between treatments.  I have seen many patients respond well to acupuncture treatment in gaining clarity of mind and renewed energy allowing them to face their new path with enthusiasm.

What to do now? Check out my five Chinese Medicine tips for mending a broken heart.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.