Coconut Butter

For those of you who have not done so yet, go and buy a pack of Ailey Mae’s chocolate.

There’s a host of flavours to chose from …and you can buy them in many East Lothian shops or online here.

Now, in the privacy of your own home, peel off the paper and gently stroke the naked smooth brown bar. Pop a piece in your mouth and unleash the heady flavours. Tantalise your taste buds with the textures and let the raw chocolate chunks run wild. Then do again and again and again.

Good wasn’t it? In fact, better than good. I bet it was bloody delicious.

Now you may ask what a nutritionist is doing going around encouraging folk to gorge on chocolate. Well the good news is – I haven’t completely lost my marbles. You see this stuff is actually REALLY GOOD FOR YOU. Seriously, the ingredients that Ailey Mae uses in her Raw Chocolate are an absolute must in your diet.

So I thought this week, to give you the ultimate feel good factor, I would explore why we need to eat raw chocolate.

Okay let’s start with the basics. She uses Coconut Butter. So what’s so good about that? Well, it’s just the revolution of the century for starters.

It’s made from the meat of the Coconut and is rich in something called Lauric Acid. This little beauty boosts your immune system and destroys harmful bacteria, viruses and funguses. It actually boosts your metabolism which helps weight loss and increases your energy levels.

And if that is not enough, Coconut Butter is also packed with Essential Fats helping you to stay fuller for longer.

Coconut Butter is also full of essential amino acids so vital if you are vegetarian and also contains calcium and magnesium.

Now the good news is that it’s available at East Lothian’s Walled Garden, or online.

For a more mainstream way to enjoy the benefits of Coconuts go for the oil, available in many high street supermarkets, and you can use it in your everyday cooking)

Right next awesome ingredient:

Raw Cacao Butter

This is a pure cold pressed oil from Cacao bean and critical to chocolate recipes.

The Cacao butter is made by pressing ground milled cacao nibs to make a paste and no chemicals or solvents are ever used in the process. It’s an excellent source of omega 6 and 9 (your Essential Fats), and contains natural antioxidants as well as being mood and immune system boosting.

Raw Cacao Powder

This is rich in antioxidants which lower free radicals that can damage your body.

It’s also a source of iron, calcium and particularly rich in magnesium. At the same time, it stimulates the release of endorphins so may well have an anti-depressant effect. (We sort of knew that chocolate makes you feel good anway!)

Interestingly, a study in the 2012 issue of the ‘International Journal of Hypertension’ reports that the antioxidants in dark chocolate help to reduce high blood pressure too.

Agave Nectar

This is a healthy substitute for sweetening foods. It won’t spike blood sugar levels and actually has nutritional value unlike regular white sugar.

Agave provides small amounts of potassium and sodium needed to keep your heart beating. It also contains selenium, an antioxidant that helps fight damaging free radicals and small amounts of Vitamin C,E,A and K.

So basically it’s a huge thumbs UP for Raw Chocolate.

However, it’s a massive thumbs DOWN to white sugar.

While I’ve been celebrating all the ‘goodies’ in Ailey Mae’s ingredients, I’m now going to issue a huge health warning about the white stuff.

So what does white sugar do?

It makes us fat, lethargic, it’s addictive and turns our children into Monsters!

What I’m saying is: Ailey Mae all the way!

Next week I will be showing your how to use Coconut Butter in your everyday cooking so watch this space.

Paul’s Yard stocks Pu Erh

Most of us interested in healthy living know that green tea is good for us.

However, a Chinese tea has now taken centre stage because it seems that drinking it actually helps you lose weight.

And the name of this fat busting hot beverage? – Pu Erh (pronounced Poo er).

It helps that the trendy tea appears to be popular with image conscious celebrities who are all swigging the hot brew, with Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow reported to be fans.

So what’s all the fuss? And do we believe the hype?

Well the science goes something like this:

Studies have shown that the tea actually suppresses fatty acid synthesis (FAS).

And the actual process of fat creation in your body (called lipogenesis) is actually impinged by the properties in this tea.

So it seems to reduce your body’s ability to make fat.

On top of that, the caffeine in Pu Erh triggers your body to secrete the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine which increases the mobilisation of stored fatty acids in fat cells.

Which means that your body can use up stored fat more easily.

There is even research to suggest that the tea can also help reduce your cholesterol levels.

However, it seems that the time you drink this fat-busting beverage is also important.

To help with weight loss reports suggest that you need to drink it an hour after a meal to maximise its benefits.

Trials in China have shown that three cups a day for a month can lower blood fats by up to 30%.

For weight loss, it is recommended to drink three cups a day for three months, then a cup a day for weight maintenance.

The even better news is that you don’t have to travel to the Yunnan Province in China, where it grows, to get some.

If you are lucky enough to live in East Lothian, you don’t even have to go to the bother of ordering it online because it’s available in a shop on North Berwick High Street.

Pop into Paul’s Yard and ask him for some Pu Erh – he’s got plenty for sale.

It’s available from his Howdah Tea and Coffee Company in the shop which also sells a great selection of freshly roasted coffee beans ground to size as well as specialist loose leaf teas from around the world.

So get brewing!