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Choc and awe: The benefits of raw chocolate

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Women across the globe would surely rejoice about a diet that allowed them to feast on chocolate and watch the pounds fade away.

While that’s still largely a pipe dream, Lynda Hartley believes there are many health benefits attached to a regular dose of raw chocolate.

The holistic health coach will host a raw chocolate-making demonstration and offer tastings in The Visitor’s Centre at the Botanical Gardens on Thursday at 6pm. The workshop costs $47 per person and is by reservation only.

The mother-of-two began incorporating chocolate and other raw foods into her diet five years ago after being diagnosed with coeliac disease.

She said: “I used to make all my homemade breads and organic cheeses but I found out it was killing me because I have a gluten intolerance. I am also allergic to dairy and that is why I went to raw foods because I was forced to find a different way of eating.”

One of the best parts about changing her diet was learning how to incorporate natural chocolate into foods other than dessert.

These days she puts raw chocolate into her morning smoothie, adds chocolate pieces to her fruit salads and mixes it with medicinal herbs to mask the bitter flavour.

Though chocolate seems to get a ‘bad rep’, she said it’s actually a healthy superfood in its raw, organic and unprocessed state.

It contains more antioxidants than some vegetables, tea and wine. Research shows it also helps with heart health and can increase alertness and improve a person’s mood — all with very little caffeine.

Mrs Hartley had a career in nursing, and spent years researching and studying nutrition and its effect on the body and mind.

She recently completed an online course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She currently works as a health coach, giving others advice on how to “upgrade their lifestyle and regain their health” through her business, The Raw Food Edge.

She plans to host health and nutrition workshops for the public throughout the year, but admitted she started with chocolate because it’s more widely accepted than many other natural foods.

“It’s a lot more sexy than doing something like wheat grass enemas,” she told

The Royal Gazette. “People like chocolate and it’s good for you. It contains more antioxidants than blueberries in its original form and it’s only in its highly processed state that it becomes a junk food.”

Back in February, Mrs Hartley hosted her first chocolate demonstration and was overwhelmed by the response. Scores of people showed up and encouraged her to do a more in-depth workshop.

She said chocolate making was “very easy” and at this week’s workshop she will teach people how to temper raw chocolate and create a host of sweet treats.

“You can make a chocolate avocado pudding or blend it with pretty much everything,” she said. “It’s also incredibly good as a dump truck if you need to take a medical herb that doesn’t taste nice and mix it with the chocolate and it helps.”

Mrs Hartley became a vegetarian nearly 25 years ago, but didn’t go raw until February 2008.

She immediately noticed a change in her energy levels and said she no longer experienced symptoms of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.

An added benefit was that she dropped 50lbs in the first 18 months of following a raw diet including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.

She welcomed people to attend Thursday’s Raw Chocolate Workshop and said they would likely leave feeling better than when they came in.

“They will be smelling and tasting some of my chocolate creations and people said when they came to my last demo they felt so good afterwards.

“It’s going to be fun and will teach people that living healthy doesn’t have to be boring. People think when you eat raw food you are only eating lettuce and tomatoes, but I also eat tons of other things.

“Strangely I don’t miss eating wheat or dairy, I thought I would when I was diagnosed with coeliac but I feel so much better without it.”

For more information on the upcoming workshop, e-mail lynda@therawfoodedge.com or phone 234-3337.

Useful website: www.therawfoodedge.com/

Lynda Hartley is to hold a raw chocolate workshop this week (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Lynda Hartley is to hold a raw chocolate workshop this week (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Chocolate fan: Local health coach Lynda Hartley is pictured with author David Wolfe, considered in raw food circles to be the authority on raw chocolate.

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Published April 02, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 01, 2013 at 8:18 pm)

Choc and awe: The benefits of raw chocolate

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