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The Magic of Cacao

Every time I begin making a fresh batch of raw chocolate bars, I contemplate the routine and wonder if I will ever lose the motivation to make my weekly batch. This wonder is always dispelled as soon I open the large bag of raw cacao powder and the aroma fills me with a sense of love for this amazing bean. I have been making my own raw chocolate for over ten years and have crafted ten flavours into Dandy’s Raw Choc bars. My fascination with cacao and how it makes me feel, has been the inspiration behind creating my own brand.

There is a something quite magical about the way cacao makes me feel and I have noted over the years that these subtle sensations are unique to raw chocolate and are not felt by ordinary heat- treated chocolate.

I have noticed the subtle change in mood from feeling okay, to moving into an elevated state of mind- that wanders into bright ideas and possibilities- to revealing profound insights. I often have to jot down the rush of ideas and inspiration that flood my mind. I am more productive physically and mentally after having some raw cacao and my energy levels soar high alongside the feelings of euphoria.

There are so many nutritional benefits of raw cacao that I would need several pages to list them.

Instead, I would like to highlight those that I find most beneficial.

A nutrient-dense food- cacao is chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, healthy fats and neurotransmitters, including anandamide known as ‘the bliss chemical’.

Cacao is rich in minerals manganese, sulphur and magnesium. Magnesium is especially important for relaxing our muscles and is constantly required by the body when we experience stress. It is one of the most important minerals for maintaining mental health, bone and heart health.

Speaking of the heart, cacao contains PEA (phenethylamine), a chemical produced in the brain when we feel happy. We produce high levels of PEA when we are in love, engaged in a creative activity and having fun.

Cacao is also rich in amino acids including the essential amino acid tryptophan which is used by the brain to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, our ‘happy’ brain chemical.

As a nutritionist, knowing how beneficial cacao is to my mental and physical health, becomes an affirmation to my personal experience of enjoying a chunk of Dandy’s Raw Choc.

Dandy’s Raw Choc bars can be found online at's-raw-choc

Fruit is your Friend

Fruit is your Friend.

Is eating fruit okay if I am trying to lose weight?

Is eating fruit okay if I am pre-diabetic?

Will eating fruit make my candida worse?

These are a few of the questions that I am often asked by my clients

So, I have decided that it is time to write my answers in this blog and clear up the misconceptions about eating fruit as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The main concern about eating fruit seems to be related to eating too much sugar.

This is odd as fruit does not have much sugar in it.

‘Fruits are made up living water, minerals, vitamins, protein, fat, other nutrients, pulp, fibre, antioxidants, pectin- and just a fraction of sugar.’

The sugar in fruit is not the same as refined sugar and cannot be classed as having the same effect in the body once consumed. Alas, this is exactly the argument that I am faced with on a daily basis as a Nutritionist fighting for the rights of fruit.

Processed sugar in the form of white refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup and many other names that disguise this form of sugar, are indeed a cause for concern as they contribute to inflammation in the body, obesity, heart disease, feed viruses, fungi, cancer and a lot of other diseases.

This is not the same for fruit - fruit helps the body fight disease.

A unique blend of phytonutrients and phytochemicals, fruit contains all the nutrients that we need- vitamins, minerals, high quality water and fibre. Every muscle and cell in your body functions on glucose and fruit provides the highest quality of glucose.

Fruit is abundant in antioxidants that fight disease in the body. Rather than counting your five a day of fruit and vegetables, why not aim to eat mostly fresh fruit and vegetables as part of your daily diet. As Michael Pollan puts it so well “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

― In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Regarding candida and fruit, fruit is digested very quickly in the stomach and the fruit sugar does not even enter the intestinal tract where candida lives. The fibre, pulp and seeds of fruit help to remove candida, yeast and fungus, parasites and un-beneficial bacteria from the body.

Processed sugars on the other hand do feed candida and contribute to weight gain, blood sugar imbalance and diabetes.

The real reason for weight gain and pre-diabetes is a diet high in fat and protein.

When the liver, our main detoxification organ, becomes overloaded with fat cells from eating a diet high in protein and fat, blood sugar becomes unbalanced and weight gain increases as a result of insulin resistance. Following this cycle of events, is pre-diabetes and obesity.

Overloaded with fat cells, the liver is unable to function properly, and becomes unbalanced without a full store of glucose. Fruit protects the liver by providing the glucose reserve it needs and supports the detoxification of toxins from the body alongside the liver. 

Often fruit gets the blame for spiking blood sugar when the fat lining the blood vessels is to blame. The glucose from fruit gets trapped in the bloodstream as the fat covering the blood vessels prevents proper absorption. The glucose from the fruit is then wrongly accused of spiking blood sugar and worsening diabetic conditions, when really it is the fat that needs removing from the blood vessels that is most likely contributing to health issues like diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

A diet high in animal foods such as meat, poultry and dairy are high in fat and protein. A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables are low in fat and protein.  Eating fruit protects the liver, stabilises blood sugar and maintains a healthy weight.

So next time you feel guilty for eating a bowl of fruit, remember eating a lot of fruit is one of the best ways to stay healthy and Fruit is your friend!


The Truth about Juice

The Truth about Juice

‘Thank goodness for juice! There is only one word that really springs to my mind when I’m drinking a fresh green juice – Gratitude. It’s as if every single cell in your body is smiling up at you, and for a moment there is a glimpse of that so often elusive feeling – the feeling of optimum wellness.’

The above is an extract from an article I wrote four years ago for Wellbeing magazine. As a student of naturopathic nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, I felt very passionately about the health benefits of drinking raw fruit and vegetable juice.

I still feel the same now as a practising nutritionist and I often find myself speaking just as passionately about juice to my clients, especially when I encounter various misconceptions regarding drinking juice as part of a healthy lifestyle.

In this series of posts, I hope to deliver a truthful message that will help clear up all those misconceptions about juice.

When I speak about drinking juice, I am referring to homemade organic fruit and vegetable juice and not shop bought juice. The shop bought juices are produced with a shelf life in mind and can be full of additives and refined sugar and are often preserved using a heating process called HPP, (high pressure pasteurisation), that destroys some of the delicate micro-nutrients, trace minerals and enzymes present.

Homemade juice on the other hand maintains the raw ingredients and delivers the pure nutrition speedily to the bloodstream. A plethora of phytonutrients (phyto - meaning plant in Greek), are delivered to the body in a pure form that the body can recognise and use immediately. In order to function efficiently, our bodies require a particular concoction of nutrients and a particular environment to perform their efficient duties and Juice delivers them.

Let’s talk about fibre as this seems to be a big concern when I talk about juice. I often hear people say - what about the lack of fibre in juice and will drinking juice cause a spike in my blood sugar because of the lack of fibre?’

All good questions that have to be answered.

So, if the juice is the fluid part of the fruit or vegetable with the insoluble fibre having been removed, then is there is still fibre remaining in the juice?

Yes, and that fibre is called soluble fibre.

Just as insoluble fibre binds to toxins and waste material in the digestive tract ready for elimination through the bowels, soluble fibre is water-soluble and acts like a gel binding to cholesterol and taking it out of the body.

And what about my blood sugar? I hear you ask.

The soluble fibre will also slow down carbohydrate absorption just like insoluble fibre slows down digestion, so that blood sugar remains stable as the body takes in the valuable nutrients.

When we extract the insoluble fibre and are left with the fluid part of the fruits and vegetables, it becomes easier to assimilate and absorb the vitamins, minerals and other important phytonutrients across the digestive tract. In this way the digestive system can take a rest from breaking down fibre and allow the body to be flooded with the pure nutrition delivered straight to the blood stream from the juice.

Let’s talk about the sugar content in juice as this seems to come up a lot when discussing Juice.

Fruits and vegetables are wholefoods which means that they contain a whole spectrum of nutrients that the body can easily recognise, use and assimilate. They also contain natural sugars that the body needs and uses as fuel. Your body breaks down foods into a simple sugar called glucose and every cell in your body runs on it. 

The sugar in juice is of the highest quality and is not to be confused with the sugar found in refined foods and drinks, which the body does not recognise as a sustainable fuel and causes all sorts of imbalances throughout the body.

In fresh organic homemade juice, you can receive all the essential nutrients needed to keep your body working efficiently and provide an ideal way to cleanse your body naturally and slowly.

And if this isn’t enough to get you into drinking juice, the water content is of the highest quality from organic raw fruit and vegetables and is full of enzymes that are ‘alive’ and very bio-available to the body, so juice is one of the best ways to hydrate your body.

It is especially important at this time to boost your immune system with a high intake of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in juice.

Adding a raw juice to your diet everyday will go a long way towards protecting, defending and building a balanced relationship with your whole body. To read the full article on the health benefits of raw juice please click here.


Putting Myself Out There

As I reflect and ponder on the best way to express myself and deliver this information in a way that will reach you, I realise that this should not be a task. That allowing this to flow naturally without effort is in fact the best way to reach out and connect my heart to yours.

For as long as I can remember I have felt different from other people, not in an obvious way, but more in a subtle way that is unnoticeable, as long as I play my role well, pretending to be like most people.

Obviously, my cover has finally been blown as I write this, and as it becomes impossible to hide my true self in this time of evolution.

What is different about me is that I have a strong intuition that usually manifests as a ‘Knowing’. This can be especially helpful when we need to find a lost item and this has led to me being named ‘The Finder.’ I have applied this ‘Knowing’ to my professional and personal life and time after time I have learnt to trust this intuition and manifest optimum results.

Alongside this ‘Knowing’, I have a strong sense of purpose. I have always known that I have a mission to complete. A purpose that is much greater than fulfilling my life alone, but one that reaches out to other people and encompasses the welfare of the Earth, our home.

This purpose eventually materialised in the TLC Project created by the TEC Collective, a grassroots movement for Truth, Empowerment and Community. This movement has been spun over seven years of creativity from myself and my partner Ray Edwards, who shares his purpose with mine.

We have created a New Vision for us to collectively step into. The TLC Project stands for ‘Thriving Lifestyle Communities’ and encompasses an open-source solutions network, that actively encourages community participation and ownership.

The vision is centred around three hubs: The Exhibition Centre, The Wellbeing Centre and The Home and Lifestyle centre.

The exhibition centre will showcase a diverse range of innovative and sustainable products, services and technologies for a healthy home and thriving lifestyle. The Wellbeing Centre will be a community run hub that supports a thriving lifestyle, health and wellbeing. The show home will be a space around which the community can gather to formulate and steer a sustainable and equitable community homebuilding strategy, with the objective of providing meaningful entrepreneurial opportunities for the local and wider community.

The TLC Project aims to practically introduce many of the advanced and ingenious solutions that we have in the world today. The project will allow us to have a global conversation about what kind of future we would like to build, what kind of legacy we would like to be remembered for and how we can use our collective agreement to create a better value system than the top down, debt-based financial system of today. 

The TLC Project will host a number of dynamic and meaningful projects and experiments, that inspire others to join us in co-creating something new and exciting for the future. Our projects and experiments focus on improved value systems for the community and are designed to fully explore our creative potential for implementing principled change through imaginative solutions and collective agreement. Petals is one such experiment.

Lastly, one of the things that I have always known is that life is magical and that we are magical beings. So, after writing this and putting myself out there, I realise that I am not that different from you and that I am not alone. I know that others will feel this truth and reach out to me. 

Let’s join together as a collective and create a future that we can thrive in, and step into our purpose with passion and unfold our unique gifts in the process. 

Let’s feel excited about life and build a new vision, starting with the TLC Project in Brighton, Sussex, UK. We are reaching out to you – family, friends, colleagues, peers, mentors, freedom lovers, visionaries, eco-warriors, shamans and healers

to join the TEC Collective and support our vision to co-create together with Truth. Empowerment and Community. One tribe – one collective all resonating to the same drumbeat, freedom.

This project has since transformed into the Inspiration Hub DHO. 

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