If you aren’t doing nightly hot chocolate or hot cocoa in the evenings you are missing out on a sensual ritual that will send you into slumber with a smile on your face.
I am sure you are counting the calories up in your head and thinking there is no way on God’s green earth you are going to drink a cup of chocolate and then sleep but I invite you to hear me out and really think about it before dismissing it as a real viable option.
Side note before we delve into the good stuff:: You do need to use cocoa powder or chocolate intuitively. If you are using a quality chocolate like Valhrona you will notice you may have a shorter dose response curve to the theobromine present in chocolate (good quality chocolate has a greater quantity of this compound) which means you could feel a sense of elation or euphoria and you could feel a little jittery. (Most people commonly mistake the small amount of caffeine in chocolate as the reason some experience side effects.) If you are affected by the theobromine in a way that makes you jittery or anxious in high amounts you will want to experiment with the quantity or skip it altogether before bed opting for a rooibos chai in place of the cocoa. Another way to eliminate any side effects is to use actual chocolate (the second recipe) as the high cocoa butter content makes the theobromine more slowly absorbed.
Having said all that, I don’t have that intense of a dose response curve and I love my evening hot chocolate. I adore it from both a nourishing standpoint and a sensual bedtime ritual standpoint.
Talking about nutrition for a moment, I use hydrolyzed collagen (gelatin) in my recipe. Gelatin is high in both proline and glycine. These counter the affects of tryptophan and cysteine, both of which are highly inflammatory, activate histamines in the GI tract, and can impact negatively on the thyroid. If the thyroid is dysfunctional nocturnal stress and sleep patterns are sometimes affected. (Remember, we in the West tend to turn our noses up at bones or cartilage in our meat, preferring muscle meats over the ‘nose to tail’ method of eating therefore disrupting our amino acid balance greatly to favor cysteine and tryptophan.)
The sweetener I use in my recipe is good ole unrefined cane sugar. Before you gasp in astonishment at the very mention of the S word remember, if I haven’t said it enough, the body’s preferred fuel is glucose and if that glucose is absent the body will break down muscle tissue and even bone to create it. I am not suggesting you down a bag of sugar but a few tablespoons will replenish glycogen stores nicely which helps keep T4 converting to useful T3 and it is pro-thyroid. Again, the liver is just one of the systems that need glucose to function so it can function well enough to clear excess and used hormones such as estrogen, insulin, and cortisol. (Those with estrogen dominance should really heed this information.)
I add a pinch or two of celtic sea salt to my recipe which calms adrenals (as salt cravings are common in response to low aldosterone levels) and keeps cortisol low during the night which, in short, keeps stress low. This makes detoxing much easier.
I use real raw milk in my recipe because I have access to some of the best all grass-fed cow’s milk ever. I have used coconut milk in a pinch with amazing results. If the only thing you have is pasteurized cow’s milk from feed-lot cattle please consider using it. Organic milk would be my second choice to raw. Don’t even ask me about almond or other nut milks because they are just basically glorified PUFA water. They say milk contains compounds such as tryptophan which is said to make you sleepy but luckily it contains so little of these compounds it wouldn’t really be a factor. I believe it is more the idea of warm milk invoking feelings of nostalgia of childhood, being nourished by mother.
As I have said, I use very high quality cocoa powder that has been roasted properly releasing many of the antinutrients like phytic acid and neutralizes dangerous mycotoxins.
Finally, my favorite ingredient is vanilla which has a relaxing sedative effect and can be tranquilizing for the brain.