How to host your own cacao ceremony

The power of ritual ceremony for modern society: an ancient art of connection resurrected…

Rituals are a vital part of the human experience. No matter what our lineage, our ancestors all had ceremonial rituals and events to connect more deeply within and with one another in sacred community. Rituals can be powerful done alone as an active prayer and also can be a profound bonding experience for a group. This is an ancient art that has resurfaced over the last decade in the mainstream through many traditions and expressions of intent, and one of my personal favorites is through the cacao ceremony.

The ancient Cosmic Maya gifted us with cacao, the food of the gods, as a ritual plant medicine to use to connect more deeply within one’s soul, with one another, and to harmonize ourselves with our external reality experience. Whenever I have a cacao ceremony to share sacred space with my family, friends, or local community I always start by giving thanks to the Maya, for they have provided the entire world with its most beloved shamanic food; chocolate.

Offering a cacao ceremony is truly one of my favorite ways of sharing an organic tender experience with various communities. Cacao is a portal to our soul and higher self expressions. It has the power to both awaken passions, desires, and destinies buried deep in our subconscious as well as provide us with the inspiration/tools/resources/action steps to access them through self-love with an open heart.

Meet your facilitator, Mama Cacao

In the shamanic tradition we call the cacao energy Mama Cacao. Her spirit is a female plant entity of the most generous benevolence and magic. Mama Cacao is a gentle and blissful plant medicine facilitator here on Earth to encourage the ascension of humanity through the gifts of self-awareness and self-love. Ascension is the integration of all our aspects of being into love, gratitude, and peace. It is the highest ultimate destiny of each and every person to find peace and their unique higher calling by releasing their suffering. This is one of the many gifts of meditating in ceremony with Mama Cacao.

Cacao is a heart-opener to embody our higher self/soul. As the highest food source of magnesium it nourishes our physical heart, spiritual heart, brain/higher mind and entire nervous system. On a chemistry level, cacao regulates all our metabolic systems and stimulates the same portions of the brain as DMT, Ayahuasca, and Cannabis on a micro-dose level. What this means is that cacao is a safe meditative access to the deeper parts of our brain and soul that can be as profound a medicine journey as Ayahuasca, DMT, or Cannabis without the same amount of stress or time.

Your brain on bliss chemicals

Our brains already produce these chemical combinations naturally. DMT is made organically in our glandular system (Pineal, Hypothalamus, Hippocampus) as a result of consistent meditation practices. This is what leads to a lucid dream experience in waking reality after some time and dedication; you learn to become a conscious creator through your own mind and energy. Just ask the Buddhist monks who have so much DMT naturally in their brain that taking DMT as a hallucinogen does nothing to their consciousness; they are already there. Cacao is a mindful micro-dose of the various amino acids and chemicals which create DMT, PEA, and Anandamide, aka the bliss chemical. This bliss connects us to the higher realms within, the answers to the questions, the strength/courage/peace we seek. Whatever you need is already within and you may not have to go to extremes to find it.

Where I am going with this is that we can have a micro experience of our higher dimensional access points within ourselves through cacao and not have to commit to all that traditionally comes with the more hardcore medicine journeys. Unless you feel you have to, you just don’t have to go to these extremes to get the wisdom, as it is all within anyway. In the beginning of my seeking I used to be one of those people who needed a serious method to access higher consciousness, so I get it. I am sharing both sides here 😀

Mama Cacao IS a portal to all of these shamanic medicines, so the true power lies in your intention and authenticity to receive. Access the deeper or higher frequency guidance you seek by humbly asking. Sit quietly with a quiet mind, an open heart and listen.

How to host & share a cacao ceremony

First you will want to get some good cacao. It is all about intention to connect and appreciate. I sell cacao ceremony blends on the site because so many have asked for my formulas during ceremonies. I offer two different intentional formulas, one for receiving and peace, and one for courage and inspired action. Each pack has 10 servings, which is great if you want to do this as a regular practice by yourself or to share in a group too! Sugar free, dairy free, and blended with both Ayurvedic & Chinese herbs. You can check these out here

Set up a sacred space where you feel comfortable and will not be disturbed. Your ceremony can be any time of day that works for you where you will have a few moments to be still, be in the receptive mode and savor the experience. Some do this in the morning like a cup of coffee, others on special occasions or auspicious times like the moon cycles/major cosmic conjunctions with a circle of friends.

Have an intention for this experience. Do you have a question, are you feeling the need for inspiration, do you need some upliftment or strength? Use beautiful cups or mugs for this event. Make your environment beautiful with flowers, your favorite colors, crystals, photos of your favorite teachers/animal totems, relatives and so forth. Match the ambiance with your intention.

While you prepare the cacao, think about your intention, and feel gratitude and appreciation for this experience, for yourself, the cacao,etc. Be present for all the sounds here, it is all deeply symbolic. The lighting of the flame to warm up the liquid, the whisking or stirring, pouring it into cups. When we slow down we start to see the miracles in every nano-second.

Once your beverage is prepared head over to your space. Take a few deep breaths to really come into the present moment to give thanks for the opportunity. Give thanks to the Maya, connect with your guidance, ancestors and anyone or anything else you feel guided to connect with to empower yourself and open your heart. Once you feel your heart open, blow three exhales slowly towards the cup to breathe your gratitude and love into the beverage.

Drink the cacao and try to just observe the entire experience without overthinking or analyzing. Try to feel instead of think for this ritual. What does it taste like, how does your body feel, are you getting any messages in answer to your prayer, that kind of thing. Give yourself 10 minutes here at least.

Once done drinking you can close out this ritual with gratitude and a big smile. You may need to write notes down in your journal based upon your experience. Sometimes the answers come right away in the moment, sometimes they take a few days to filter down from your subconscious and higher mind into your conscious mind. Be open to how the messages may come: through others, animal totems, song lyrics on the radio, signs on front lawns, and more fun random ways that you are comfortable with.

Enjoy!

Love, Merissa

Merissa

Terroir: How soil quality impacts our food, nutrition, health & longevity

image sourced from https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2019/09/how-ecuador-falling-back-love-chocolate

Terroir is a French word used most commonly in the wine industry by vintners and sommeliers to describe the environmental impact of the soil, climate, topography and more upon grapes, and how these influences create the subtle yet marvelous varieties of wine created from these grapes. Though relegated most generally to the wine industry to elaborate the importance of soil and climate as a delicate balance contributing magnanimous influence upon each type of grape, I believe this depth of mindfulness should be applied to all agriculture. I propose we bestow this heightened caliber of discernment upon all industries linked to food and beverage.

Terroir is defined as:

“… the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop’s phenotype, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop’s specific growth habitat. Collectively, these contextual characteristics are said to have a character; terroir also refers to this character.”(Wikipedia)

Being French myself, terroir is a passionate code of ethics which emanates from my coeur. It is the grassroots of my business as a chocolatier with a conscious corporate model. For my company Integrity Cacao, terroir is a mantra for mindfulness which defines food quality by nutritional density/bioavailability, meshing it with sustainable business ethics to regard the planet’s health and finally whisked with the final result of unparalleled product delivery; a superb palate experience for my customers.

Since cacao is the number one food source of magnesium (a crucial mineral for optimum health of literally of every cell in your body, magnesium is critical for 600 cellular processes in your body, including brain health, a calm/present state of mind, relaxed muscles, sleep, strong bones, teeth and nails, balanced blood pressure, and heart health,) the ultimate goal for my formulas is to preserve the magnesium content for my customers to receive the health benefits in each piece of chocolate. The first step to achieving this defining feature of my cacao formulas is the sourcing of all raw materials; the soil content is the single most important aspect of having quality produce of any kind. The second is our signature manufacturing practices, which you can read about in my blog detailing conscious manufacturing here

The superfood species I chose for my cacao formulas is Arriba Nacional because it is a nutrient dense, fine flavor bean and not a gmo species. The labor to harvest this vital ingredient is fair trade and sustainable. We source this cacao from Ecuador in mountainous regions that are high elevation. The jungle here is removed from industrial pollution or radioactive influence and thus the soil is rich and pristine. Ecuador produces less than 10% of the world’s cacao and the country produces more than 70% of the world’s highest quality cacao. Pacari is one of our sources for cacao. They are the most renowned chocolate company from Ecuador and specifically work with farmers that only grow Nacional beans, even going so far as to pay higher wages for these cacao beans. Growing Nacional beans requires more time and attention to ferment and process, and these beans are themselves Ecuador’s famous fine flavor cacao. This cacao is highly sought after in foreign markets.

The special properties of this cacao bean would be irrelevant without the dynamic chemistry provided by the synergy of right climate and soil. The quality of the soil immediately impacts the quality of the cacao. Too acidic, too alkaline, or mineral deficient doesn’t cut it for our standards, which is why we rely on nature’s perfect chemistry balance in Ecuador, with its rich jungle soil and volcanic mountain soil for ideal soil health. The cacao we use is jungle-harvested and biodynamic, so the soil on these estates is mineral rich with humus. Humus is the most integral aspect of quality soil. In soil science, humus denominates the fraction of soil organic matter that is amorphous and without the “cellular cake structure characteristic of plants, micro-organisms or animals.” Humus significantly affects the bulk density of soil and contributes to its retention of moisture and nutrients (Wikipedia.)

Today we are having to supplement our diet with ionic minerals and metals to account for a lack of nutrients in our produce due to agricultural industries taking aesthetics of produce (ie using those punnet squares to breed prettier and sell better) as a high priority over nutrient density. Most conventional industries are not practicing crop rotation to replenish soil health. This is ironic in its shortsightedness, as eventually the long term lack of quality produce will catch up with these low integrity industries, and conscious consumers will choose sustainable agriculture producers instead, forcing these old school industries to adapt or become null and void. Maybe compromising health for fast cash is not going to work out…

From Scientific American 2011:

“…it is true that fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” There have likely been declines in other nutrients, too, he said, such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out how much less we are getting of these key vitamins and minerals.” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/)

As a conscious corporation, Integrity Cacao is all about the integrity of the entire process involved in being a product business, from the sourcing and labor to the formulating and manufacturing. As a conscious consumer and a mother, I founded my company on the principles of integrity and sustainability that I sought from producers. I feel terroir is an important concept for the quality of all food. It is time we take the notion of terroir beyond the romantic sensuality of the wine world and into the entire fabric of industrial agriculture. We can truly taste and feel the difference between fruit and vegetables that are nutrient dense and those that are not. As consumers, each dollar spent is a vote. Our health is our wealth, and we can opt to purchase products from conscious businesses which practice mindful sourcing and sustainable agriculture. This investment ensures not only our health, but that of the planet and future generations.

Rose Cream Truffle

An edible portal to the Sacred Heart + The Rose Codes

Rose Cream Truffle

I created this fabulous chocolate for the Mother’s Day season of the spring in 2017. My intention for this formula was to create an edible offering of the rose codes to be mindfully enjoyed and facilitate heart opening. Rose is a universally powerful gateway to access deep love and healing. This amazing dark chocolate is 100% organic and only 5 ingredients: Cacao, dark maple, rose otto essential oil, cashew cream and rose petal powder.

The feedback from this formula was so astoundingly, stupefyingly beautiful that I decided it could not be just a seasonal special; this was providing moving experiences for people on many deep levels of being. I realized this was a medicine that we needed at a crucial time in our collective awakening experience: that of putting us back in touch with the power of our hearts, and bringing back the love.

Welcome to the Rose Codes

The following is an excerpt from our mastery school course,

RESTORING DIVINE FEMININE DNA WITH ASCENDED MASTER

MARY MAGDALENE

YOU ARE THE INFINITELY UNFOLDING ROSE

The rose is a symbol for the infinite layers of the self. It is a powerful gateway to the secrets of the heart and soul, mysteries just waiting for you to meditate upon them to gain access. The rose is an example of the reflections of the creator made in the perfection of the creation, and therefore a powerful reminder of you as perfect, whole and complete already. For this reason we are working with the rose as an ally to support your journey. It is a scent to be worn and smelled which brings so much comfort and yumminess to your senses. As a rose water it can be sprayed to wash your face. As a food it nourishes our digestion system so we can have more strength to digest life, and it makes a delicious ice cream. Spiritually it can connect you to depths of your being that you never knew were there because there were too many layers of old story. There is a reason the saying says to stop and smell the roses. It will bring you home to the power of the now moment, and the infinite love that is here for you once you can receive it.

THE MARY’S & THE ROSE

The rose has been associated with Mother Mary for thousands of years as a symbol of purity and the power of the divine mother. It is a symbol of ever-unfolding consciousness and love, a literal blooming open of the heart chakra. The rose is also associated with Venus and all other incarnations of the divine feminine Christ consciousness. The rosebud looks like a vulva and has been a vital part of sacred women’s mystery teachings and initiatory rites of passage for young ladies. Since Mary Magdalene is also a Mary, a name that is a title for initiated priestesses of very high order, she too is associated with the rose as the symbolism of the divine feminine on physical and spiritual levels. Mary comes from the root word Mar or Mer, which means the sea. In the original biblical texts from the Book of Kings God/Yaweh had a wife, the female warrior goddess divine principle, named Asherah or the Lady of the Sea, which many think to be a reference to the sea of stars above. 

THE FREQUENCY OF ROSE

Rose has the highest vibrational frequency of all the flowers at 320 Hz! Rose has been used globally in healing tradition sciences like Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and the alchemical healing traditions of Egypt and Europe too.

In Islam, the fragrance of a rose is said to emulate the sacredness of the soul. When you smell a rose in the air but there is no physical rose nearby, it is said that these are transmissions from the divine to relay holy messages.  

In Catholicism, the scent of roses is often called the “odor of sanctity” because it indicates the presence of spiritual holiness. People have reported smelling the fragrance of roses after praying to saints in heaven to intercede for them with God about something.

Roses appear in accounts from all of the world’s major religions as a symbol of miraculous love at work in the world. In ancient mythology, roses symbolized eternal love in stories of how gods interacted with each other and human beings. Pagans use roses as decorations to represent their hearts. Muslims view roses as symbols of the human soul, so smelling the scent of roses reminds them of their spirituality. Hindus and Buddhists see roses and other flowers as expressions of spiritual joy. Christians view roses as reminders of the Garden of Eden, the paradise codes.

ROSE ESSENTIAL OIL FOR HEALTH, BEAUTY, FOOD AND SACRED SELF-CARE

Physically, rose has many benefits for our bodies. It can help aide digestion, counter a rash or inflammation, and is a powerful beauty aide for the skin to heal scars and provide a radiant glow. The very scent of it can affect our nervous system powerfully! Rose cools a temper and eases anxiety or grief. This is why rose essential oil is highly suggested as an ally for this course. Since a clean rose essential oil can be hard to find at an affordable price, I highly recommend the organic Rose Otto essential oil by Plant Therapy, which can be found here on Amazon. It is organic, chemical free, and diluted with sesame oil so it is only $20 for a 5 mL bottle. A little goes a long way, and I use it on my face, as an anointing perfume, and to make my favorite healing rose cream chocolate formula for my organic, raw vegan craft chocolate company, Integrity Cacao.

MYSTICAL TEACHINGS OF THE ROSE

The mystery schools associated with the rose are a fascinating global journey into the sacred mysteries of life, the divine feminine, mysticism, the soul and love. Indeed when you begin to explore the rose as an initiation into the feminine mysteries you will take a historical journey all over the world from France, to Persia and beyond. The rose is found literally all over the world in art, alchemy, architecture, myth and poetry. The ancient world had a mystical understanding of the divine feminine that we are now coming back to. This is a journey home where we integrate ancient wisdom with our future.

From Sandy Humby, the Rose Oracle https://www.rosealchemy.com/ :

“For many drawn to the Rose path there is an immediate felt familiarity as the work was lived and shared in the Temples of Atlantis and Egypt. The Brothers and Sisters of the Rose have carried this knowledge through the eons knowing that when the time was right the Rosa Mystica would be called forward again to open Hearts and bring balance, harmony and healing to the Sacred weave of Masculine / Feminine and uplift humanity. As above so below As within so without. It is time…”

Below is a video from the course sharing more about the rose codes:

Celtic Sea Salt for St. Patrick’s Day -honoring ancient Indo-European cultures

Today for Saint Patrick’s day I wanted to share how I pay tribute to the Celts. The Celtic people are a collection of ancient Indo-Europeans which includes the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Bretons, Manx, Cornish, Gauls, and Gaelic tribes throughout history. For me personally, all holidays have a deeper meaning for us to explore ourselves and lives; an invitation to pause from daily schedules and media frenzied consumerism to reflect on history, simpler times, or some other deep nostalgia that can positively impact our lives here and now. Are we living on purpose? History becomes deep with a medicinal catharsis if we let it. By let I mean make the time for introspection and meditation. This timeline jumping to the past and back to the present moment to bring the teachings into the now is what can help us heal, forgive, learn, bridge, and evolve.

I always encourage people to explore their cultural roots as a joyous method for more self-discovery and empowerment. Oftentimes when we reflect back on the voyages, triumphs and hard times our ancestors not only endured but did so with the ultimate courage and self-reliance, it gives us some confidence, or genetic clout if you will to face another day when we feel overwhelmed or small.

One of my favorite ways to achieve a sense of connection to the past is through a directly activating experience, and it does not get more tangible than our food. Every chocolate I make by hand for Integrity Cacao is an invitation to activate a piece of your soul on a global and galactic level by connecting you to your heart, your soul’s truth, your heritage, and the earth herself based upon the formulas and where each ingredient comes from both culturally and geographically. Each raw vegan chocolate formula we offer contains very special, hand-selected ingredients that link us to our ancient heritage, re-ignite our lineages, initiate our own personal heroic journey, or invite us to explore others’ histories as well.

My Celtic Sea Salt organic raw vegan chocolate formula is kind of a big deal to me historically with my micro craft chocolate business, because it is actually the first chocolate I ever made when I just started playing around with cacao back in August of 2012. It is only three ingredients, and is still the most popular flavor, because as I always say, salty and sweet cannot be beat!

These 3 ingredients are the jungle-harvested organic Arriba National cacao from Ecuador, organic dark A maple syrup from Bascom maple farms in New Hampshire, and Celtic sea salt harvested the ancient way on the shores of the gorgeous beaches in Brittany, France. This Celtic sea salt is a raw living salt from the ocean, packed with incredible minerals, which is why I use it for this formula. It is so unprocessed that it is still damp from the sea, and is also the only doctor recommended sea salt. You can read more about this fabulous company, Salina Naturally here.

When I hired a graphic artist to help me design the posh packaging for retail, I had to sit and think for a minute. What does Celtic mean to me? My heritage is a combination of French, Sicilian, Welsh, and a dash of German. I have always been very enchanted with the history and culture of the ancient Celts. Their art, music, myths, languages, stone henge, Merlin, I could go on forever. I resonate strongly with the Druids of old, with their mythology and lore, their earth magic practices and reverence for the natural world, the faeiries and will-o-the-wisps, mermaids, poetry and the bards, yeah like I said I can go on forever with this tangent due to the immense passion I hold for my ancestors, my own roots.

So, I had to sit there for a good minute and ponder how to pay homage to this vast mystical culture that has been mysteriously under our noses for thousands of years aside from movies and comics. How can I honor them with one visual? Then it hit me. The Triskele. Three spirals connected together in the center with a triangle in their middle, continually flowing forward like a wheel. While the spiral as a symbol is a wonderful rabbit hole one could get lost in for months exploring all cultures’ sacred spiral symbolism -and I highly recommend it as a subject to get lost in- this one symbol of three interconnected spirals, the Triskele, is where we will stay today. This is a symbol that I first discovered while in France at the Ile de San Michel with my mom, and she bought me a Triskele pendant, introducing me to the lore of it and its philosophical significance. I wish to paint you a small verbal portrait of the energy of this place in France, as it IS the resonant blueprint for this chocolate formula and how I came to make it. I was overcome with the magic of this topsy turvy island/mountain/city whose access is cut off part-time with quicksand. You can only visit and depart this world with the timing of the tides. The cobble stones, bustling locals, restaurateurs and merchants remind one of Diagon Alley. Not to mention the massive golden statue of Saint Michael slaying a dragon at the very top of this amazing archaic mountain which dwarfs the whole isle. It’s truly a portal to another time where I expected to see Merlin pop out at any moment.

Anyhoo back to the chocolate. I chose the Triskele, also known as the Triskelion or triple spiral for the Celtic Sea Salt packaging to pay tribute to this ancient symbol which has been so beloved by the Celtics since the dawning of their culture, dating back to the Neolithic era of old Ireland. The Triskele represents many things to many people, depending upon the time and culture that was dominating that era. To me, it represents the original trinity of the old ways: the father-mother-child cycles in nature. I also particularly resonate with these other triple or trinity philosophy perceptions that are prevalent in many cultures: the life-death-rebirth cycle we witness in shamanism, and our generations, spirit-mind-body that we are learning to unify now, and past-present-future circular time that we are learning to work with now as a multidimensional reality.

To me, this symbol helps us to remember and activate within our highest potentials as we are tested sometimes daily, and yet carry on forward with courage and authenticity each day in our lives, despite all of our roles and responsibilities. I feel so strongly about this that I asked my mom, who is an amazing artist, to make me a custom power piece with the Triskele for me to wear when I need some empowerment whilst out in the big world. You can see a photo of this awesome statement piece below here:

The Triskele is a visual guide on a subconscious level, a gentle nudge forward to keep intending and thus achieving understanding and fulfillment. It is also a reminder of the conscious participation we can have in our daily lives by allowing and choosing mindfully to respond with ability, pure love, and compassion to anything that can be perceived as an obstacle or a psychological trigger.

So, long story short, this is why I chose the Triskele to be the symbol on my packaging in stores for the Celtic Sea Salt formula. Companies all over the world use symbols in their branding, so my intention with my formulas and their retail packaging is to do my part to represent a visual art activation that can help someone on their journey. I take it to a much deeper, multidimensional level than just branding. The formulas are meant to activate, and thus so is the artwork. The idea behind the power of symbols upon the subconscious is that when a person sees a symbol, it activates something in their awareness. This activation is entirely up the individual and no experience is the same from person to person.

Whether an inspiration, a memory, a dream long forgotten, or a desire that was subconsciously repressed, the cacao and the powerful ancient symbols I use in my conscious business are all tools to help folks raise their conscious awareness. We are all much more than we thought before.

Have a happy and safe Saint Patrick’s Day! Enjoy your roots.

<3

M.

References: https://www.blarney.com/triskele--triple-spiral--tri/

Spring Celebrations: Our chocolates for Easter

Making seasonal chocolates is one of my favorite parts of owning a chocolate business. Six months out of the year from Halloween to Father’s Day, I get to mix up the routine and craft some special concoctions that are only available for a short season. Since I make chocolates around the clock on a daily basis, the holidays give me some room to stretch my creativity muscles.

Spring is my favorite season. I was born in the Spring, which I guess adds to my particularly passionate affinity for the bright colors, the perfumes of freshly bloomed flowers, and the singing of the birds. As a child and especially now as a mother, Spring and Easter are some of my favorite times to celebrate seasonal cycles and the beauty of our natural world. The word Easter is derived from the name of the goddess Eostre, whose abundance and natural fertility were symbolized in the eggs and baby bunnies that we now associate with Easter. Dying eggs, Easter egg hunts, making special goodies, enjoying the miracle of baby animals in the wild, the surge of physical energy as life begins anew after the winter hibernation, and celebrating the goddess of mother nature in her abundant forms is an important annual rite for myself, my family and friends.

Every year I look forward to making chocolate eggs for kids and adults to have healthy chocolate alternatives for this special holiday. Already this year I have had some heartfelt thank yous from parents whose children have milk allergies, and it feels so rewarding to bring a high quality craft product to the table.
They are tricky to make with a filling, and I just love the elegant patterns of flowers on these molds. Since 2012 I have made these each year filled with peanut butter or raw almond butter. This year I wanted to do something different and classic with almond. Presenting marzipan-filled Easter eggs! These extra dark cacao eggs are filled with a raw vegan marzipan! The marzipan is made of organic almond flour with a hint of organic maple. A simple and wholesome tribute to my Italian heritage.

In addition to the marzipan filled eggs, I have the traditional peanut butter. Peanut butter and dark chocolate…nom. I cannot help myself, as this divine combination is one of those truly magical flavor pairings that is too delicious to pass up.

Lastly, rounding it out with three flavors this year was the solution to really letting myself have some fun. The third flavor is my vegan coconut milk caramel, and this year it has some extra pop. Pictured above in a trifecta with the PB and marzipan, can you guess which is which? I added a legit plant-based food dye made from turmeric by India Tree to the caramel so it has a vivid yellow “yolk” like center! Any opportunity to add some whimsy with clean, non-processed ingredients is an invitation for me to have fun with my business. If you want natural food coloring, try these from India Tree, available here on Amazon.

These gorgeous eggs are simple, elegant and free from gluten, soy, GMOS, refined sugars, or any other fillers. Delight your palate and celebrate Spring with pure indulgence made by hand with love.
Such mindfully clean ingredients there needn’t be anything but joy, as nature intended. Enjoy this gorgeous season. Step outside, take in the flowers and birdsong. Plant in some dirt if you can, or if you live in an urban environment think about a kitchen container herb garden. Slowing down is the key to longevity. Nature truly provides a feast for the senses and countless miracles when we stop and allow ourselves the chance to perceive it.

Happy Spring! May you have great health and happiness. May all of your dreams, prayers, projects and goals be fruitful, high vibe and joyous.

<3,

M.

Why organic dark maple syrup is our favorite

The Mighty Maple -Why a whole food, whole chemistry sugar is a different experience

 Ahh the maple tree. Such a gorgeous and generous tree being with palmate leaves similar to our own hands! A magical sap rich with bourbon flavors and sultry vanilla undertones at one of its darkest and most alluring grades for foodies; that of Dark A Robust (formerly known as the previous FDA grading scale grade of B leading to C). I would have to say that the most magical part of maple syrup is that these magnanimous flavors, when truly nature made and non-processed, taste as such because of their genetic makeup. Under that deep palate flavor profile lies a hidden treasure trove of trace minerals and vital nutrients.

Just a forewarning, I am going to get on my nerdy, passionate-foodie-longevity expert soapbox here now. I also have to preface this piece with some serious science-backed passion: Not all sugars are the same! Ya gotta know this -that we cannot write off a means of categorizing a nutrient, i.e acid, fat, sugar, salt etc, as just that. Each type of nutrient is a rabbit hole unto itself when we examine the source. These categories of chemical identities are not just simple black and white, good and bad food choices. Not all sugar is the same. Just like not all fats are the same. Our bodies break everything down into either a protein which eventually becomes a sugar, a fat which eventually becomes a sugar, or a sugar. The skin, organs, and our entire metabolic processes are based upon our receiving adequate levels of the right kinds of fats. If we break down all foods and their chemistry into sources of energy, we can start to see the parallels between real nutrition that are sources of energy versus empty calories.

 I am the ultimate skeptic; I will research every available cache of medical articles or scientific journals both online and in musty dusty tangible print (my preference) until there is nothing new to learn on any given topic. How do you think I came up with these formulas? 🙂 My cacao formulas are the summation of the last 12 years of studying biochemistry, food chemistry, all in conjunction with physical fitness, our general metabolic processes at all stages of life, plus my getting into health at a young age due to near fatal auto-immune disorders. By young age, I mean 9 years old. With these genuine life experiences and legit hard-knock certifications I identify as an independent researcher and an alchemical food scientist. I claim it wholeheartedly and unabashedly. When you come to my site and see the flavors we have, you are getting glimpses of my life’s work presented in recipes.

Some call me a mad foodie genius or the female Willie Wonka. Would that be Winifred Wonka? Wilhemina Wonka? Hmmm. Back to the post. What is the most important to me in business and life is that the foundation of any endeavor is integrity, empowerment, authenticity, and transparency. I am the pickiest person when it comes to how I formulate my products, which is the whole basis of why I make my chocolate the way that I do. When we use  ingredients that are whole and complete, and not stripped away or processed of vital nutrients, they are absorbed entirely differently by our bodies on a cellular level. This is why we are Integrity Cacao. We humbly and lovingly offer you the best nature has to offer, mixed up alchemically with precision and more love, delivered to you gorgeous, unadulterated and nutrient dense.

Maple syrup compared to white sugar

Pure maple syrup is unprocessed compared to the extensive factory operations for white or brown sugar. Sugar maple trees are tapped for their sap, the sap is boiled down as a decoction which transforms the maple from a liquid to a syrup. The darker the grade from the old scale, like B, C, or D, means less filtration, means darker color, means more trace minerals and other vital elements.

Sugar can be made from sugar cane or sugar beets (mostly GMO beets now bc it is cheap for producers) and requires a large amount of processing. The cane or beets are made into a slurry with hot water, then boiled and smashed to create a pulp. Various chemicals may be used at different stages of the refining processing including lime, diatomaceous earth, or phosphoric acid. The potion is then filtered, separated, and bleached using carbon, bone char or an ion exchange system. The sugar crystals are the final result of this process once the water has been evaporated.

 

Minerals in Maple versus minerals in sugar 

There are no vitamins or minerals remaining in sugar once the extensive refining process has been completed. Maple syrup contains a variety of percentages of trace minerals, listed more comprehensively below. Dark maple syrup contains small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. These minerals play essential roles in your body, including cell formation, immune support, maintaining healthy red blood cells, keeping bones and teeth strong, regulating muscle contractions and balancing fluids.

Other sweeteners on the market and why we do not use them

When you start digging around you see that there are not a ton of options for sweeteners; they all seem to have a compromise somewhere along the line. Stevia was my first choice but it is tough to work with for the chocolate, we have tried it when we tried to formulate some sugar free versions for the immune compromised. We also tried non-gmo xylitol from Birch trees, but it can cause a laxative effect, which was more than we wanted to give to our beloved customers. Unless raw, agave nectar is just as toxic to the system as standard corn syrup.  Coconut sugar is still a concentrated sugar and thus high glycemic, as is fruit juice. Honey is high glycemic and we want to be mindful of the bees and their hard work, keeping it vegan.

Let’s get into the pith of maple syrup, the real juicy chemistry of why it is different. You know me, the pun is always intended. A little more science for inquiring and open minds.  For this next bit, I am going to actually step aside and let the experts handle the chemistry of maple syrup. Take it away, Bascom Farms, fabulous organic farms in New Hampshire and my hand-picked maple syrup supplier:

Sugars

Sugars are an important source of energy. The main sugar in pure maple syrup is sucrose, which is the sole sugar in the Grade A Light Amber grade syrups. The darker grades of syrup contain a small and variable amount of fructose and glucose. In order of sweetness, sucrose is less sweet than fructose, but sweeter than glucose.

Maple syrup caloric value is 52 calories per tablespoon, molasses 40, corn syrup 60 and honey is 45.

With a glycemic index of 54, maple syrup is considered a low glycemic product, which means it affects blood sugar to a lesser degree than sugar (GI 58) or honey (GI 87). (source: Summary of Health Benefits of Pure Maple Syrup: Summary of Information Compiled by the International Maple Syrup Institute. Accessed at http://www.internationalmaplesyrupinstitute.com/uploads/7/0/9/2/7092109/__nutrition_and_health_benefits_of_pure_maple_syrup.pdf on July 31, 2015)

MINERALS

Minerals have specific and nonspecific nutritional functions in the body metabolism. In pure filtered maple syrup the main minerals present are: potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and selenium.

Per 60 ml (1/4 cup), in % DV Maple Syrup HFCS Honey White Sugar Brown Sugar
Manganese 100 4 3 0 9
Riboflavin 37 4 2 1 0
Zinc 18 0 2 0 1
Magnesium 7 0 1 0 7
Calcium 5 0 0 0 5
Potassium 5 0 1 0 6
Calories 217 220 261 196 211

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) Value Of Maple Syrup

ORAC Value per 100g µmol TE²/100g Serving size µmol TE²/serving
Brocoli, raw 1362 1 medium (118 g) 1037
Banana, raw 879 ½ cup (46 g) 627
Carrot, raw 666 1 (72 g) 480
Maple Syrup 600 ¼ cup (60 ml/80 g) 480
Cabbage, raw 508 1 medium (123 g) 415
Tomato, raw 337 ½ cup (85 g) 268
Cantaloupe 315 ½ cup (37 g) 188

*Percent Daily Value (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet:

Based on an average intake of 130 g/day refined sugars and the antioxidant activity measured in typical diets, substituting alternative sweeteners could increase antioxidant intake an average of 2.6 mmol/day, similar to the amount found in a serving of berries or nuts. (1)
  • Total Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 9mg 0%
  • Protein 0g 0%
  • Total Carbohydrate 67g 22%
  • Sugar 60g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium 7%
  • Iron 7%

For nutrition information for other serving sizes, visit http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c21SM.html

So, what ‘s the bottom line here? The final important aspect of this article, and nutrition in general, is how an ingredient or a food affects the body. How are we absorbing it? What happens to our body when we break it down? Does it add to our cellular structure and thus keep us vibrant and healthy (antioxidants), or detract from our health, leeching vital elements from our bodies and speeding up aging (processed food)?

MAPLE syrup is a minimally processed sap from a tree that is a balanced sugar. Maple syrup is a complete sugar, meaning it is not just empty calorie sugar. All of the minerals listed above are a part of this sugar at a chemistry level. It actually has fiber like a whole fruit does, so it is assimilated more slowly at a cellular level and thus there is no spiking in blood sugar levels. 

This research comes from a childhood fraught with illness, which launched me onto the path to wellness and eventually led me to be my own independent researcher. This in turn is how I became creative enough as a food alchemist to make my chocolate formulas.

*Disclaimer: This post is a result of personal observation, research, and opinion. None of this information should be taken as medical advice, nor is it intended to be so. At the end of the day, each person is responsible for their own health. Do your research, find what resonates with you, and takes into account your individual needs. 

To your health and radiance!

M.