07/07/2013 09:23 am ET Updated Sep 06, 2013

Chocolate Smiles

I have always gravitated toward healthy food, and eating fresh, wild, seasonal food has been a deep-seated passion for many years. However, once I experienced that deep-seated exhaustion from having my first baby I knew that my diet needed an upgrade.

The endless nights breastfeeding and dealing with an extremely challenging first child drained all my resources, so after chatting to a wonderful raw foodie friend who claimed to only need four hours sleep a night due to his high-raw diet, I thought "That's it, I'm going ALL raw!"

Overnight I made the change (as that's the way I do things), and despite the fact that my husband and friends thought my hormones had got the better of me, this was in my mind an absolute MUST!

After reading a few raw food recipe books I decided to make life very simple and stick with superfood protein shakes, big green and seaweed salads, dehydrated crackers, dips and lots of raw chocolate; it just felt very easy!

I didn't spend so much time feeling like a crazily hungry breastfeeding mum, as all the raw food snacks were so nutritionally packed. I spent less time thinking about what to eat and prepare. And of course my little baby girl LOVED it; more breast milk, more calmness of spirit, and of course a happier mama!

I am now seven years down the road, and although I now do not adhere to 100 percent raw all the time, it still plays a huge part in our life, and we feel amazing because of it!!

Last year my husband and I decided to completely change our life and go and live in a super health-conscious commune in Costa Rica.

Here is an excerpt from my new book Annelie's Raw Food Power: Supercharged Raw Food Recipes and Remedies for Energy, Nourishment, and Whole Body Happiness (F+W/Adams Media). This documents this amazing experience, and gives you an insight into how a young raw food family completely changed their lifestyle from living in an urban jungle to the real jungle.


Chocolate Smiles

This week we have all turned a significant corner. Djuna is sleeping better, whilst Zella is becoming more settled in her commune school and seems to have finally accepted this place as our home. For now.

Anyway, I have a sneaky feeling that the reason for this turnaround is due to the extremely high quality chocolate and superfood smoothies she is consuming. She has even been found dancing randomly from person to person declaring, "I love living here!" When school finishes at lunchtime each day, all the kids get a coconut cacao ice cream from the Wild Treats Bar, which I think is one of the best things about living here.

The bar is a little shack in the jungle that creates delicious and healthy snacks made mostly from local produce and superfoods. I have been in two minds about raw chocolate ever since I started my raw food journey; for sure, it can be stimulating but in small amounts, and on occasion it is heart-opening, energy-giving and puts a big smile on my daughter's face.

It does also seem completely normal to be consuming this complex and nutrient-dense little superfood in a place where it's indigenous. It is a bit like going back in time because here in the commune they are so obsessed by their chocolate that even the commune currency (the only allowable currency for purchases) is "Chocos," where one Choco equals one dollar.

The currency occurs in the form of a little card that contains a variety of different units of Chocos. This is reminiscent of the Mayan madness where they literally would swap cacao beans for food. A rabbit was worth 30 cacoa beans, an avocado three cacao beans and a good turnkey was worth as much as 100 cacao beans. Given his continued temporary absence I have taken to wondering: How much for a husband?

To supplement the pervasiveness of this chocolate culture, everyone appears here at the commune to do at least a daily cacao shot. This shot consists of cashew nuts, cocoa beans, wild honey and cayenne pepper. Whilst I cannot go that far personally, I honor the Chocolate God whoever you are and praise be to you, for now I have a little girl who is happy!

Cacao Shot Elixir

• ½ cup cashews or almonds (soaked 2 hours)
• 1 cup coconut water or spring water
• 1T raw cacoa nibs or beans
• 1T raw cacoa powder
• 1T raw honey, agave or yacon syrup
• ½ t fresh vanilla or extract (optional)
• 1t coconut butter (for a slightly creamier taste)
• pinch of cinnamon
• pinch of cayenne pepper

Blend everything for at least one minute, until you have a fairly thick and intense chocolate drink. Only do maximum two shots per day! This is little dose of "natural pick me up" and might just be the answer to those espresso shots you are trying to give up!

Excerpted from Annelie's Raw Food Power: Supercharged Raw Food Recipes and Remedies for Energy, Nourishment, and Whole Body Happiness, by Annelie Whitfield, Copyright © 2013 by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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