Anti-Anxiety Hot Cocoa

Anxiety and I are casual friends, and she shows up whenever I’ve got the absolute most going on in my life. I’ve been trying to be rid of her for decades, now, but it’s a process right? I move to Los Angeles in two weeks and she’s been in my nervous system turning all the way up. In addition to massage, acupuncture, meditation, and yoga, I’ve started adding this grounding and immune system supportive beverage into my daily routine. When I have the time, it’s part of my breakfast, or maybe it’s an after lunch snack, but I try to drink it before 2 pm because it’s energizing and it will keep me up at night. Full disclosure, I can’t drink coffee because it makes me jittery, but if you drink coffee at all times of the day and you still sleep like a baby, then this cautionary tidbit doesn’t apply to you.

On a scientific note, I chose cacao because it’s been proven to have polyphenols that are key in helping to ease anxiety and promote increased calmness. Reishi made the cut because I’m always looking for ways to add this sort of cocoa-tasting adaptogen into my beverages. Reishi generally gives me powerful physiological boost, so I add it in whenever it makes sense to.


Estimated Prep time: 5 mins

What you’ll need:
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of Raw cacao powder or a dark chocolate bar that’s at least 90% cacao
1 tablespoon of powdered Reishi
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom
10 oz or 1 1/4 cups of Almond Milk

Now what?
After heating my pot for a few minutes on medium/low, I add the coconut oil. If it’s not already melted, I’ll wait a few and then add the cocoa in coconut oil, wait for that to dissolve and then in goes the reishi, and cardamom. I’ll immediately turn the heat down to the lowest setting, because who wants burnt hot cocoa? I’ll let it simmer for no more than 2 minutes. Don’t walk away from the pot! Now for the final ingredient. I pour the 10 oz of either almond or sometimes oat milk while stirring. I love using a handheld whisk to add some froth so I feel fancy at home, and who doesn’t love feeling fancy at home.

References:
Latif, R. (2013). Health benefits of cocoa. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 16(6), 669–674. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e328365a235

Wachtel-Galor, S., Yuen, J., Buswell, J. A., & Benzie, I. F. F. (2011). Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In I. F. F. Benzie & S. Wachtel-Galor (Eds.), Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd ed.). Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/



6 Tips to Improve Your Overall Health

  1. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.

    Fact is, your body is at its optimal state when you’re well rested. Food is more easily digested, nutrients are better absorbed, your immune system is stronger and stress levels are reduced. This translates to more energy, the need for less caffeine, healthier food cravings, and deeper mental clarity–which means better decisions.

    What you eat and your overall lifestyle can affect your sleep. If you’ve been playing games with your sleep and need some ideas on how to reset it, check out my post about reclaiming your sleep.

2. Drink a glass of hot water with lemon juice and mineral salt.

After hopefully a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, the first thing you're body will need is hydration. The easiest way is to take about 8 oz of hot or warm water add about a half of a lemon’s juice and 1/4 of a teaspoon of himalayan or celtic sea salt. What you’ve got here is a natural electrolyte beverage that will rehydrate you and rev up your digestive system. This is helpful to increase your metabolism especially if you’re like me and aren’t always the hungriest first thing in the morning.

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3. Move in some way between 3-4 times per week.

Whether it’s running, spinning, dance classes, swimming, weight training, yoga, or basketball, pick one form or as I personally enjoy, a mix of movement modalities to keep you healthy throughout your week. I know life can get crazy, but take some time try new workouts and set your life up around staying active. This might mean scheduling your workouts in advance, meal prepping, making an effort to get to bed earlier. Moving 3-4 times weekly has been proven to increase your metabolism, reduce stress levels, increase energy, improve brain activity and much more.

Start slowly by committing to two workouts and every two weeks add another day until you’re working out as much as you’ve set out to. Be patient with yourself and steer towards rest when deciding whether or not to exercise while sick, it oftentimes ends up making things worse because you’re causing added stress on an already weaken immune system. Bottom line, treat your workouts like your work meetings and start off slow and steady as you working towards your wellness goals.

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4. Balanced servings of protein, carbohydrates, and fats at each meal.

The best thing you could do for yourself to improve your health is to find out how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat your individual body needs to function optimally. How you ask? Plug your height, weight, and your activities to a food dairy site like myftinesspal.com or cronometer.com and it will tell you exactly how many grams of each macronutrient you’ll need to be your best self. Now this method won’t support you if you’ve got anything out of the ordinary going on with your digestive system, so I suggest scheduling an appointment with a functional nutritionist (shameless plug) if that’s you.

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5. Take a food-based multivitamin

Odds are you’re not getting all of the micronutrients your body needs through food, so adding a multivitamin to your daily routine could help balance out some of your body’s nutrient stores. This can help boost energy, strengthen your immune system, improve sleep and lower stress levels. While I would suggest getting a basic metabolic panel test completed to identify which nutrients you’re actually deficient in to experience real results, supplements can be a great starting point. In addition to supplements, continue to add foods that are high in the nutrients you need.

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6. Start a gratitude journal.

Whether it’s first thing in the morning while you drink your warm water and lemon juice or right before bed, take some time to focus in and write down a few things you are grateful for in your life. It’s often easier to focus on temporary issues plaguing us rather then the deep and meaningful, but often overlooked staples in our lives. Access to food, a warm and clean bed, family, friends, and community are all things we sometimes overlook, but can shape our mindsets for the better.