If you’ve ever felt guilty about eating chocolate, let me let be the voice of reason when I tell you… DON’T.
DARK CHOCOLATE is a fantastic mood-boosting food and its thanks to tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino-acid used by the brain and the gut to make our happy neurotransmitter: serotonin.
A deficiency in serotonin can create feelings of sadness and depression, cravings for sweets, digestive irregularities (like IBS and chronic constipation), anger, aggression, frequent worrying, anxiety and a negative self-perception. (1)
Tryptophan is also an essential amino acid, which means our body can’t make tryptophan on it’s own therefore, we must consume it in our diets.
Other sources of tryptophan include dried dates, sesame seeds, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, and of course high-protein foods like spirulina, meat and dairy foods.
Coconut oil, the second brain-boosting ingredient in this recipe, and a unique source of energy for the body. It contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are fatty acids that bypass the liver in their metabolism, heading straight to the brain for a direct energy boost. The consumption of medium chain triglycerides has also shown improvement in brain function for patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s (2).
Mood-Boosting Dark Chocolate Bark
This freezer chocolate bark recipe is easy and versatile. I make it regularly to get my chocolate/serotonin/energy fix.
1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder (I like Camino Fair-Trade Dutch Processed)
1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons of organic real maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup of chopped pecans (nut-free version: Pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and shredded coconut)
healthy pinch of sea salt
Line a 6-inch container with parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk together coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetener, until fully incorporated.
Pour evenly into parchment-lined container.
Sprinkle nuts evenly into the bark and finish with sea salt.
Cover and let sit in the freezer for 1-2 hrs to set.
Once set, remove from freezer and chop into squares with a large knife.
You are ready to enjoy!
**Will keep in the freezer for 2 weeks+. Which makes for very easy snacking!
1. Camilleri, Michael. “Serotonin in the gastrointestinal tract” Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity vol. 16,1 (2009): 53-9.
2. Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, Cholerton B, Baker LD, Watson GS, Hyde K, Chapman D, Craft S Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults..Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4.