I was surprised to see chocolate cake on the menu at my ayurveda retreat. After all, isn’t chocolate a big no-no? In India, they regularly infuse bitter taste through spices such as turmeric and vegetables like bitter gourd. Chocolate is bitter, which is a good taste for spring. Who knew that chocolate cake could be good for you!
Chocolate is bitter and sweet at the same time. Even though the bitter taste is one of the least common tastes in the western diet, it is incredibly important. The bitter taste cools, increases Vata, and decreases Pitta and Kapha. It is one of the most healing tastes for many kinds of imbalances in the mind and body. Bitter foods and herbs dry, cool, and create lightness. When it is heavily damp during spring, we need the bitter taste to lighten us up. It acts as a detoxifier and is germicidal. The bitter taste is an antidote for fainting and itching and burning sensations in the body. It relieves thirst and reduces fevers. Anything bitter promotes good digestion, removes ama (digestive toxins) from the body, and cleanses the blood.
Chocolate is also sweet (don’t we know it), and its sweet taste also cools. It decreases Vata and Pitta but increases Kapha. The sweet taste is the taste of pleasure. It comforts us and makes us feel contented. It is one of the most important healing tastes for debilitating weakness in Ayurveda. It also nourishes, strengthens, and promotes the growth of tissues; so it is good for growing children, the elderly, and the weak or injured. It increases ojas (vitality) and helps prolong life. The sweet taste is good for hair, skin, complexion, and healing broken bones. It nourishes and soothes the body. That is probably why we are so attracted to the sweet taste.
The sweet taste in excess promotes a Kapha imbalance and causes heaviness, laziness, and dullness; it also promotes cold, obesity, excessive sleeping, loss of appetite, cough, diabetes, and abnormal growth of tissues. So don’t eat a whole cake!
Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively impact your health. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants. Studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary junk) can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease. Quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and a few other minerals. Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants (way more than most other foods). The bioactive compounds in cocoa improve blood flow in arteries and cause a small yet statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.
Dark chocolate reduces the risk of several factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity. Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate. Studies also show that the flavanols from cocoa improve blood flow to the skin and protect it from sun damage. There is considerable evidence that cocoa has powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease.
But, of course, this doesn’t mean you should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. Just a slice of cake would be perfect. Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is terrible for you. Choose quality chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.
- 3/4 cup flour
- 5 oz dark chocolate
- 2/3 cup raw cane sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 4 eggs
- Break the chocolate up, and melt it slowly with the butter; then, let the chocolate cool.
- Add the egg yolks one by one, whisking each time you add an egg yolk. Then, add the flour and sugar. Mix well.
- Beat the egg whites, and mix them slowly with the preparation. Once the preparation is well blended, pour it into a buttered ovenproof dish and bake for 50 minutes on low heat, 275 degrees F.
If you like, you can add a little coffee to intensify the chocolate flavor when mixing the eggs. Enjoy!