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Healing Hearts With Chia and Chocolate

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Modern women are having a collective heart attack, and the looming date of February 14th doesn't make things easier.

With half of all marriages ending in divorce, and cardiovascular disease affecting one in three American women, our hearts are under siege emotionally and physically, making Valentine's Day feel bitter-sweet, or just plain bitter.

The emotional and physical stressors from breaking up or living with cardiovascular disease sap a girl's ability to have fun or be motivated to create a pleasurable life after these traumas.

My own separation and divorce process lasted over two years and the health effects, coupled with the stress I felt whenever I saw my well-known, soon-to-be-ex-husband every time I turned on the in-flight TV, were wide ranging. Insomnia, wild food cravings, and weight fluctuations that I hadn't experienced before all hounded me while I tried to make sense of my new reality as a working single mom.

Many women, myself included, have used food as a hammer to punch down the feelings of fear and regret. Refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and sugar become your new best friend, even your lover, late at night. I remember when Ben & Jerry were my boyfriends during a traumatic breakup.

There are foods that can open your energy, lift your spirits, and help your heart back on the path to recovery.

If you're experiencing a solo-Valentine's Day, treat your body with love and respect. You deserve some attention and something delicious that is also going to serve your goals of looking great, feeling well, and creating the energy to achieve your life goals.

Try this recipe to help your body, outlook, and energy heal from the emotional and physical injuries of the past.

Chia seeds provide an excellent plant-source of cardio-friendly Omega 3's which protect the heart, are used to treat nervousness and insomnia and lubricate dryness.

Chocolate is used for ... well, everything. As a stimulant, chocolate's theobromine, historically used as an aphrodisiac, is a vasodilator, meaning it widens blood vessels, and is used to lower blood pressure. Raw cacao powder, as used here, is the highest quality chocolate available, offering more healing antioxidants.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

2 cups coconut, rice, almond, or hemp milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup raw cacao powder
½ cup chia seeds

For a warm, tapioca-pudding style:

1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat.

2. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes for a warm tapioca-pudding like texture.

For a cold pudding:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

2. Eat cold or at room temperature.

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