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.

Sugary snacks such as biscuits and chocolate

Who among us has not reached for that sneaky bar of chocolate for a quick energy boost when the mid afternoon slump hits.

Who can say that when energy levels dip that a sugary pick-me-up is not the snack of choice – simply because it’s there.

Or at school-pick up, have a packet of biscuits handy to reward kids for a hard day’s slog learning their ABC’s.

Well my advice to you is – think again!

Now I’m just as guilty as the next person for taking a dive into the biscuit tin and inhaling a long line of chocolate hobnobs when the going gets tough – or sometimes horsing my way though an entire block of chocolate in one sitting.

We all do it – and pig-outs are okay – it’s when it becomes part of a daily routine that you need to take a step away from the treat cupboard.

So why are we all getting so worked up about the sweet stuff?

Well, it comes as no surprise to know that if eaten in large quantities, it rots your teeth and makes you fat.

But what we are now learning is exactly how bad it is for us (about as bad as alcohol or tobacco) – and just as addictive.

And we are finally waking up to the fact that manufacturers have been sneaking it in everywhere.

It even lurks in what we might consider ‘healthy’ food choices – bran based breakfast cereal, tomato soup, baked beans.. the list continues.

So now we have an obesity crisis.

In Scotland one in three adults are now obese.

And the picture is even worse for future generations as figures show that last year there were 3,500 children who were clinically or severely obese when they started school in Primary one.

Jamie Oliver campaigned for a sugar tax

In March this year celebrity chef Jamie Oliver did his bit to try and combat our spreading waist-lines by putting pressure on the UK Government to introduce a ‘sugar tax’ to try and cut obesity rates.It is expected that the sugar tax, to come into force in two year’s time, will raise an estimated £520 million a year – with that cash spent on doubling funding for sport in primary schools.Well that’s just ‘pucka’ as Mr Oliver might say, but in the meantime, I have created some delicious but healthy snacks for everyone to enjoy – guaranteed to stave off those mid afternoon sugar cravings for both young and old.