Health. Wellness. Nutrition. Happiness. Four buzzwords that are ubiquitous in our current world, all have different, separate meanings. Yet, oftentimes, they get lumped together, like synonyms.
I think a lot about these four words and how they relate to my life. During my (ideally) daily walks, I listen to podcast episodes with a myriad of guests, each talking about his or her newest book, proclaiming their beliefs and values upon the listeners ears. Sometimes, I nod my head in agreement and wish that I could join in the conversation, to share how similar my thoughts and knowledge are to theirs. But earlier this week, when the sun was shining gloriously and there was no snow on the ground, I found myself enraged with a podcast guest. I listened, but groaned in sadness and disbelief.
When I began studying Nutrition Science in college and charted my course to become a Registered Dietitian, I recall jokingly telling my parents that I’d be the worst guest at anyone’s cocktail party! In the mid to late 90s, Nutrition wasn’t a buzzword, it wasn’t a global obsession. Fat was the culprit back then, we were in the FAT-FREE era, when processed foods were void of any fat, texture, or flavor. To replace the fat, sugars and other unpronounceable chemicals were added to food, leaving a filmy residue on the palate of those who enjoyed the popular Snackwell’s cookies and crackers (myself included). These processed snacks weren’t even real food, they were food-like substances. While we’ve come a long way since the 90s, I still feel ostracized when it comes to being included in conversations about Nutrition. And my exclusion may be because Nutrition is now bundled together with its buddies, Health, Wellness, and Happiness.
So back to this podcast interview which had my blood curdling as I took each step…the guest was a Wellness Influencer (is that a job title?) with a large social media following and a new book. The host (who I usually enjoy listening to) was asking her guest about her daily routine - what she eats each day, etc. The guest started by enthusiastically talking about the importance of hydration, drinking lots of water each day to keep the body’s functions running smoothly (no pun intended). OK, I agree with that, sound advice. Next, she started to talk about her latest obsession - Celery Juice. She reported the claims about the benefits to the body due to celery’s great nutritional status, how celery juice can ward-off ailments and cure others. I stopped immediately in my tracks. Not another endorsement for celery juice! Like other fads, this one has come about very quickly and has no merit, yet it is gaining a cult-like following. Who’s to blame? Social media’s darlings, who are (usually) young women disguised as experts in the field of Nutrition? I believe so.
Back to my feelings of sadness. There’s nothing about celery juice that makes me happy, and I don’t even drink the stuff! Happiness is a huge component of overall health and wellness. When we’re happy, when endorphins flow through our veins, we experience greater emotional and mental health. Overall wellness is achieved when physical, emotional, and mental health is in-balance. Cacao, the natural precursor in chocolate, induces feelings of calmness and happiness, due to its naturally-occurring compound theobromine. Enjoying a cup of high-quality hot chocolate, such as today’s recipe, is one way to boost levels of theobromine in the body, which positively effects overall happiness. And nutrition, health, and wellness, too.
My take-home message is the same as always: eat (and drink) what makes you happy, what makes you feel good - both in emotionally and physically. There’s NO reason to eat or drink something (celery juice, I’m looking at you!) which may have a health benefit, especially if you don’t like the taste. Our body is smart, it senses pleasure, and pleasure leads to happiness, and so on. Find what makes you feel good, what makes you feel your best. For me, a long walk in the sunshine, followed by a mug of my Rose-Infused Hot Chocolate, is the perfect combination!
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Rose-Infused Hot Chocolate
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1/4 C raw cashew pieces
1 1/2 T raw cacao powder (I like Navitas Organics brand)
pinch of sea salt
1/4 t vanilla extract
1 large or 2 small dates (I use Deglet Noor)
2 1/2 C boiling water
1/2 t dried rose petals (culinary grade)
Place cashew pieces, raw cacao powder, a pinch of sea salt, vanilla extract and dates in a high-speed blender. Pour boiling water into the blender, put the lid on top, and allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
Carefully blend the contents until completely smooth. Pour into 2 mugs. Top with dried rose petals - let them sit on top of the hot cacao for a moment or two before drinking. This infuses the drink with the beautiful rose scent.
Relax and enjoy this cozy mug of hot cacao. Repeat as often as needed.
recipe can be doubled, to serve 3-4 mugs
omit the rose petals, if desired, and top mugs with shaved chocolate instead