Hot Chocolate Pudding by the Raw Veganista

After ages of considering doing so (and subsequently putting it off), I finally got around to trying Sunwarrior’s raw vegan vanilla protein powder just about a week ago. My review can be summed up in one simple word:
INCREDIBLE. I immediately noticed the fine consistency and intoxicating vanilla-esque aroma upon first encounter with this product. Wow. Seriously? Most protein powders carry a hint of aroma of the flavour they claim to deliver, but generally miss the mark when it comes to really through when it comes to fulfilling that promise. I have tried so many vegan (and raw vegan, in recent years) protein powders within my lifetime, and have not once come across one with flavour intensity such as I have discovered in Sunwarrior. In fact, considering how unpalatable, bland, and middle of the road I have found so many products in the past, I still cannot believe how much I liked it.

This stuff is seriously good! Normally, I really can’t stand the consistency protein powders, as they generally taste quite powder-ish even after having been blended with fruit, plant milks, water, whatever. This incredibly flavourful,high quality beverage mix is exceptionally palatable and also works incredibly well for blending into non-beverage recipes - which is an endeavour I would never have previously attempted due to the powdery taste and mouth feel of nearly every other similar product I’ve found on the market to date.

The first thing I felt compelled to do with this stuff was to make was a “Creamsicle” blended drink with some oranges in the Vitamix. Basically, I blended a scoop of the Sunwarrior vanilla with two (local, organic) blood oranges (including a small amount of peel from one of them), a fresh date, pinch of Himalayan pink salt, and half a tray of ice. Perfect! Next, I felt like trying something a bit more creative and tried blending it with heavier fruits and another “powdery” product I also happen to like a lot: Gnosis Chocolate Elixir’s “Mayan Heat” hot chocolate blend.

Please allow me to prelude any further details on formulation with a bit of background info on Gnosis Chocolate: This is absolutely the best raw chocolate company I have ever come across, and the amazing thing about my saying this is that I’m usually a fairly strict “standalone, fruit only” kinda raw vegan gal who generally has a strong aversion to prepared sweets.
Really? A girl who hates chocolate?
I know it sounds crazy, but we do exist.

I absolutely adore this company, not only because the owner/CEO is a sweetheart and an NYC neighbour with whom I instantly became friends upon having met (and exchanged treats to share); but because her raw cacao products are simply second to none as far as quality, flavour, and ethical sourcing are concerned.

Gnosis Chocolate Elixir (powdered raw cacao) is a delicious raw vegan indulgence which has been providing me with smooth and creamy results whenever blended with coconut milk. As such, I had a sneaking suspicion that despite the mixing of two powdered products together, there would be little to no chalky mouth feel to endure.

So the experiment went that I combined some Sunwarrior protein and a bit of Gnosis Chocolate Elixir in the Kitchen Aid food processor with some incredibly fresh, organic, farm-direct fruit and a bit of salt, gave them a spin on the blades, and…

Voila! A perfect blend of sweet and creamy deliciousness, prepared and ready to eat in minutes. 

For my Lunar New Year celebration gathering, I decided to re-create the same treat with a slight variation: blood oranges and a little bit of the peel to create a spicy “orange chocolate” treat. I also used Gnosis Chocolate’s Immunity Elixir (instead of the Mayan Heat - as I felt the slightly more exotic flavours would blend incredibly well with orange), all of which were blended together and served in little “bowls” made from peels of scooped blood oranges.

On Lunar New Year, oranges represent wealth, good fortune, and gold. I made these to bring delicious blessings to friends and family as part of our celebratory gathering. These were a hit, and I was proud to present this highly auspicious treat to my guests on this very special day.

Happy Lunar New Year, and enjoy in good health! Ⓥ♡★

Fitness Proaction - Self Care over Health Care! by Erin Garmon

Fitness Proaction LLC

Happy February! This month, as the Valentine’s Day approaches, we are reminded to tell those closest to us we love them and show affection to those who deserve it. Consequently, this month brings with it a deluge of hearts and chocolate everywhere we go, so I have decided to make those the main topics of our letter this month.

Have you ever wondered how much your heart does for you? You may be surprised to see what it does for you everyday. Take a look at some facts about your heart in our Focus on Fitness article to find out. Spotlight on Nutrition will discuss making good choices when it comes to America’s sweet treat of choice, chocolate. Finally find some easy and healthy recipes to tempt your tastebuds and a take a quick look at our Fitness Proaction Update to keep up to speed on what’s happening at the studio, including our “Skip-It Heart Challenge” and how you could win a prize this month!

Focus on Fitness:Anatomical Heart
Heart Facts 
The cardiovascular system is amazing and deserves some recognition for all the hard work it does to keep you alive and thriving, most of the time without your awareness. Just think about it, from early in fetal development until the day you die, your heart beats continually and rhytmically, never taking a break! 
Just the FACTS 
  • The vascular system - arteries, veins and capillaries - is over 60,000 miles long, long enough to circle the earth more than twice!
  • The heart pumps about 5 quarts of blood per minutethroughout the body. That’s around 2,000 gallons of blood a day! 
  • The average heart beats about 100,000 times a day! That’s equivalent to more than 2.5 billion times in a 70-year life time!
  • An adult woman’s heart weighs about 8 ounces, a man’s about 10 ounces. 
  • A child’s heart is about the size of a clenched fist, an adult’s heart is the size of two fists. 
  • Blood is 78% water.
  • Blood takes about 20 seconds to circulate the entire vascular system.
Facts About Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Since the heart and vessels work constantly to keep you alive, damage done by neglect can have significant consequences. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a collective term for cardiac disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD), or cerebrovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease can be congenital or develop from damage done to the heart and vessels over time. Here are some facts about CVD:
  • An estimated 80 million Americans have one or more types of CVD.
  • Every day, more than 2,400 Americans die of CVD - that’s one person every 37 seconds!
  • CVD costs Americans about $475 billion in direct and indirect health care costs. 
  • About 82% of people who die of coronary heart disease are under the age of 65. 
  • CVD claims more lives each year than the next five leading causes of death combined.   
Your heart and blood vessels do an incredible job of keeping you alive and well without your knowledge. Make sure to take care of your heart by exercising regularly and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low in saturated fats. Remember to see your doctor regularly to make sure your heart is functioning in tip-top condition and that you are doing everything you can to keep your hard-working heart healthy throughout your lifetime.  

Heart Disease Facts: Cost of Cardiovascular Disease. Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. 
facts.asp. 2014. 


Spotlight on Nutrition: 
Chocolate for Your Heart
Chocolate Heart
Can Chocolate Be Good For Me? 
Controversies abounddebating whether chocolate is good for you or not. I hope to present you with some simple facts to clear up the muddled waters. Just in case you were wondering, this article is pro-chocolate, well, cocoa to be exact.


Cocoa, the Heart-Healthy Factor in Chocolate
Getting right to the point, cocoa is the ingredient in chocolate that touts the health benefits we are looking for. Forget about the milk-chocolate sissy stuff, full of milk fat and sugar, if it’s not 60% cocoa or higher, don’t try to make a case for taking it as your daily dose of antioxidants.


Cacao is a natural plant product and is full of polyphenols, particularly flavanols, which are molecules that have positive effects on the cardiovascular system. The processing of commercially available chocolate that involves roasting and alkalinization can destroy large portions of these protective molecules, therefore choosing raw cocoa powder and dark chocolate that have not undergone “Dutch processing,” to remove bitterness, will offer the most positive health benefits. 


When cocoa is consumed, the concentration of flavanols and antioxidants in the blood plasma rise, reaching peak levels 2-3 hours following consumption. The method by which cocoa exerts positive effects is debated, but the following are few ways cocoa benefits the cardiovascular system. 


Cocoa’s Protective Effects on the Cardiovascular System
  • Endothelial Function and NO: The endothelium is the smooth inner surface of the body’s blood vessels that is highly selectively permeable (it only let’s very specific molecules into/out of the blood stream).  NO is nitroc oxide and acts as a vasodialator (it relaxes the smooth muscles of the blood vessels), and reduces the accumulation of  “debris” in the vessels. Endothelial dysfuntion is associated with cardiovascular disease and cocoa is shown to improve endothelial function, even in those who already have coronary artery disease and even in smokers. 
“Of interest, drinking a flavonoid-enriched cocoa beverage results in regional changes in cerebral blood flow and overall increased blood flow to gray matter for up to 3 hours as assessed by functional magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, in elderly humans, cerebral blood flow velocity in the middle cerebral artery increases…suggesting that cocoa flavanols may protect against dementia and stroke.” (Corti, Flammer, et. al.)
  • Antioxidant Properties: Flavanol-rich cocoa reduces lipid peroxidation in the body, reducing levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, and increasing overall antioxidant capacity. 
  • Platelet Funtion: Cocoa consumption has demonstrated decreased platelet aggregation effects and decreased platelet adhesion, similar to low-dose aspirin. Also, stearic acid, a saturated fat commonly found in chocolate, reduces platelet volume. Thus cocoa has the effect of helping to prevent clots of thrombi in vasculature. 
  • Antihypertensive Effects: Cocoa intake has been found to be inversely related to mean systolic blood pressure, when other factors are adjusted for. Even small intakes (6g) of dark cocolate in the evening showed reduced mean systolic blood pressure. Some studies even found reduction in mean diastolic blood pressure with cocoa intake. 
  • Other Protective Effects: Reduced insulin resistance and improvements in blood lipids (increased HDL cholesterol and decreased LDL cholesterol) have been seen in some studies. 
So What?
Some limitations exist as to the benefits of regularly consuming chocolate in the diet. Generally, commercially available chocolate is high in sugar and fat and has low cocoa content, leading to the opposite effects as seen above (causing weight gain, diabeties, dyslipidemia, hypertension, etc.) When looking to incorporate chocolate in the diet, look for high-levels of cocoa that have not been processed with alkali. Also, remember everything is better in moderation, so stick to a serving size of dark chocolate a day, no more than about 40g. Or even better, try recipes that use natural sweeteners and healthy fats with cocoa powder. (Like those in our Healthy Recipes section) Enjoy your chocolate the healthy way and treat your heart right!
DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to be educational and not prescriptive. Individual results and needs may vary. Consult a dietician or physician before making drastic changes to the diet.
Corti, Flammer, Hollenberg, Luscher. “Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health.” Circulation. 2009; 119: 1433-1441.
Heart Healthy Cocoa Recipes

Looking for a sweet treat to satisfy that chocolate craving? Look no further! These easy 3-ingredient recipes are not only delicious, they are also pretty darn good for you! So put down that Ben & Jerry’s and try something new.

Chocolate PuddingChocolate Pudding
2 ripe avocados
1 ripe banana
3 T cocoa powder
Optional Ingredients: honey/agave syrup, vanilla extract, orange zest, walnuts, cocoa nibs
1. Puree avocado, banana, and cocoa powder in a blender or food processer until smooth.
2. Add any optional ingredients to taste.  
3. Refrigerate until chilled.
4. Stir and serve.
Recipe Credit:
Cocoa Almond Bites
INGREDIENTSCocoa Almond Bites
1 c. almond meal (or pecan meal)
1/4 c. cocoa
1/4 c. agave syrup or honey
Mix all ingredients. More or less of any ingredient can be used to change flavor and/or consistency. Form into balls and refrigerate. (For some variety, add nuts, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, etc.) Coat with cocoa powder, shredded coconut as desired. 
Fitness Proaction Update

SKIP-IT Challenge
This month brings with it a new challenge to SKIP our way to better heart health. As many of you may know, we believe HIIT training is a great way to improve cardiovascular health and many of you participate in HIIT training using the spin bike or BOSU already. We challenge you, as health permits, to add skipping to your training, as we use a once popular toy to make exercising more fun. The person who skips the most minutes in February will win a prize for their hard work and dedication to protecting their heart from cardiovascular disease. 

One-For-One Referrals
Thank you to all those who have referred a friend to Fitness Proaction! We appreciate you! If you have not shared yourSelf Care Over Health Care experience with your friends, we encourage you to do so. You willl receive a free month of sessions equivalent to those purchased by your referral if they decide to join the Fitness Proaction family, even if only for a month. 
Show some love to your heart this month by getting moving and enjoying some heart-healthy cocoa, in moderation of course. Have a happy Valentine’s Day and we look forward to skipping our way to better health with you this month!

Erin Garmon
Fitness Proaction LLC

Fitness Proaction News
February 2014


Page 1 ... 6 7 8 9 10 ... 73 Next 2 Entries »