The past year has seen drastic change for our little family.
In the past 12 months, Nathan and I have worked in two and three jobs respectively, travelled to many cities, and lived at five different addresses in two separate countries. Not only that, but we began the lifelong journey as parents when we welcomed precious Emilia Maria into our lives. It has been a beautiful whirlwind. All the same, it is a lot to take in.
We are on holiday this week, staying in my parents' lovely home on the Coromandel Peninsular.
We came here seeking rest - although this has seemed harder to attain than in the past.
It is not possible to take a holiday from parenting (our days are invariably structured around feeds and naps) and it is not so easy to disentangle ourselves from the insidious tendrils of technology. Despite turning phones and iPads off for periods of time, the lures of the email inbox and the Instagram feed and Facebook notifications pull us in and we put aside our paperback books in favour of The Screen. You see, here I am: case in point.
Still - I choose to 'unplug' for the most part. And what delights there are to be had when I do!
There was a time not so long ago (in the scheme of things) where I ran barefoot in the garden and the bush that it bordered, chasing cats and collecting twigs. My imagination was lively, my heart was pure, my hopes belonged more to expectation than to longing.
Emilia now embodies that purity, that boundless joy. And I am choosing to revel in the delights of being her mummy.
So we are lapping up the sunshine while it lasts; introducing Emilia to the texture of sand, the salty smell of the sea, and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore as she inches (resisting) slowly into dreamland.
After Baby's bedtime, it's Our Time. We laze in front of the fire, with a glass of good wine, our paperback books, and melting Homemade Chocolate.
Homemade Chocolate - the best kind
This chocolate needs to be kept in the freezer. It's two basic components are raw cacao powder and extra-virgin cold-pressed coconut oil. The ratio between the two is a bit of a moveable feast - if you prefer your chocolate ultra-smooth and a tad 'melty', go heavy on the oil. If you prefer a more bitter chocolate, lean towards the cacao as I have. All other ingredients, of course, are optional.
Each time I make chocolate the outcome is slightly surprising. I experiment. That is the beauty of cacao - it is scrumptiously full-bodied and therefore it is forgiving; change the amount of oil, add some sweetener, a handful of goji berries, a pinch of sea salt… freeze it and you get chocolate of one kind or another. So I encourage you to experiment, and have fun!
One thing I will say - I love the addition of Vanilla Pea Protein Powder to my chocolate. I think it reduces the melty-ness (I'm sure that's a word…) and adds a lovely subtle vanilla flavour, as well as a boost of protein. it is still optional, however.
What is so good about this chocolate?
Cacao is the unrefined version of cocoa, and it contains many more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is especially high in magnesium which helps your muscles to relax - so eating this chocolate before bed is perfectly acceptable! Cacao is high in fibre, assisting your digestive system. It has also shown to reduce blood pressure, enhance circulation, suppress appetite, and make you FEEL good! Pretty epic! Read more about cacao here.
Virgin Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil
I'm sure you have heard by now of the multifarious health benefits of coconut oil, especially when it is unheated. There are many benefits and uses for coconut oil, but I will highlight just two: coconut oil increases your metabolism by providing instant energy and has antibacterial, antiviral and anitifungal properties. It really is a wonder food, and if you don't already use it in cooking and baking or even skin care and other home uses, I encourage you to find out more.
1/2C virgin cold-pressed coconut oil
1C raw cacao
1-2T Vanilla Pea Protein Powder
1T rice malt syrup or other sweetener
Roughly chopped macadamia nuts or hazelnuts
Sprinkle of sea salt
1. Line a small loaf tin with baking or parchment paper
2. Melt the oil over a low heat
3. Add the cacao (and protein powder or sweetener if using) and whisk until smooth
4. Pour into prepared loaf tin and sprinkle in any interesting additions
5. Place in the freezer (on a flat surface!) to set
6. When set, remove from freezer and cut into squares or shards
7. Enjoy a piece of this superfood Homemade Chocolate without guilt, at any time of the day or night