As I type at home in the pouring rain and cold that is meant to be spring, there doesn’t seem a more appropriate time to share this warming medicinal recipe for vegan reishi hot chocolate. Fusing the Mayan flavours of cacao, orange essence and cayenne with one of nature’s most potent healing fungi, it is really quick to make and all you need when life gets on top of you and the clouds hang over you a little too long.
I have been fascinated by the power of cacao for a while – both as a potent antioxidant and as a ceremonial medium, and it is a food I hold in great respect. But to reap the benefits we must always use raw cacao, which extracts the powder with its nutrients in tact, unlike its processed cousin cocoa powder.
Alongside this, I have become increasingly interested in medicinal mushrooms, and in collaboration with Hybrid Herbs I have been learning about two more widely available ones: reishi and chaga. They are high potency extracts, come in powdered form and you only need a teaspoon or so a day to receive their many nutrients.
Like all mushrooms, reishi is an amazing source of minerals and other essential micronutrients (essential meaning that we cannot make them ourselves). Also known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, it has been used medicinally in Japan and China for over 2,000 years and the Western world is slowly catching up.
Its active constituents are polysaccharides and triterpenes, which modulate our immune response and can potentially protect from and diminish tumour activity. This is different from “immune stimulation”, a term often banded around in the wellness world, because when fighting cancer we need not to increase immune activity but to regulate it. Resihi and other mushrooms are particularly intelligent with regard to this: it seems to both inhibit the growth of cancers while also targeting cancer cells with cytotoxic activity; and its extract has also been shown to inhibit angiogenesis (when a cancer creates its own blood supply in order to grow). As a synergistic whole it is a pretty amazing little plant in the fight against cancer.
Reishi also stimulates our detoxification enzymes and the triperpenes help us relax and sleep well. We are equipped with all the receptors and apparatus to utilise its nutrients with very little effort and it is little wonder that Eastern cultures have worked synergistically with it and other mushrooms for so long.
You can drink it in tea, warm milk or smoothies but here in this warm healthy hot chocolate it really meets its match. Enjoy.
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 cups water or nut mylk
1 tsp reishi
1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
10 soaked almonds (not necessary if using nut mylk instead of water)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 drops orange essential oil
1/2 tsp coconut oil
Honey to taste
a pinch of sea salt
Blend all the ingredients until smooth and then gently heat until warm (under 115 degrees farenheit if you want to keep it raw) before serving.
Mug, Anthropologie; mango wood board Nkuku.com