Love and Ojas: Celebrating Chocolate Through the Lens of Ayurveda

Tasting dark chocolate, a ripe apricot, a luscious elixir—savor the expanding joy in your body.
Nature is offering herself to you.
How astonishing to realize this world can taste so good.
When sipping some ambrosia, raise your glass, close your eyes, toast the universe.
The Sun and Moon and Earth danced together to bring you this delight.
Receive the nectar on your tongue as a kiss of the divine.

Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras

You’ve probably heard that dark chocolate is a health superstar, and here’s why, according to AyurvedaAyurveda teaches that to stay in balance, we need all six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. But bitter is a flavor severely lacking in the standard American diet. We can get an occasional dose of that bitter taste from dark coffee, IPAs, and greens (dandelion greens and broccoli rabe are great examples of bitter). And we also get it from dark, bitter chocolate.

Bitter Is Better

A small quantity of bitter goes a long way. Next time you’re cruising down the buffet line at Kripalu, give the wilted greens a try. Your body will thank you.

Over time, as you incorporate more bitter tastes into your diet, this flavor will start to taste almost sweet. I know, it sounds bananas, but it’s true. Ayurvedic doctor Robert E. Svoboda teaches that bitter and sweet are opposite sides of the same coin.

If you’re familiar with the tenets of Ayurveda, you may have heard ad nauseam that “like increases like and opposites bring balance.” What does this mean in practice when it comes to flavor? To squash those 3:30 pm sugar cravings, try something bitter. If you find that you often leave the table unsatisfied, end the meal with a bitter taste and it will suck the cravings right out of you. For this reason, many European countries, especially France, serve salad at the end of the meal rather than the beginning. Salads are often a compilation of the bitter and astringent tastes, thus ending the meal with a boost to your taste buds and your health.

PSA on Fair-Trade Organic

Now back to chocolate! Be sure to choose organic, high-quality, fair-trade chocolate. Not only do we want the farmers to be treated ethically, paid reasonably, and not sprayed with pesticides as they are harvesting, we also don’t want small children harvesting the beans in lieu of going to school.

In addition, chocolate has an affinity with breast tissue, so eating non-organic chocolate may increase your risk of exposure to pesticides and chemicals. These toxins are often found living in the fatty breast tissues. Fat is ultimately the number-one storage bin for environmental pollutants and toxins.

Now that the educational piece is out of the way, let’s craft some ojas-infused vegan truffles! Ojas is the radiance and vitality that supports our physical and mental health, and this truffle recipe includes two ojas superfoods—medjool dates and coconut—enrobed in a beautifully bitter chocolate shell. Feel free to substitute the lime with any other citrus zest or with dried fruit.

Lime Coconut Vegan Truffles

Time: 15 minutes
Makes 14–16 truffles

1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
¼ cup organic, fair-trade cocoa powder
½ cup shredded, unsweetened, untoasted coconut
Zest of 1 organic lime
¼ teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
10 ounces 70-percent or higher organic, fair-trade dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Optional toppings:
Lime zest
Flakes of pink salt
Coarsely chopped crystalized ginger
Coconut/cocoa powder blend (1/3 cup shredded coconut to 1 tablespoon cocoa powder)

Place walnuts and pitted dates into the bowl of a food processor equipped with the S-blade. Whirl until the walnuts and dates become a homogenous clump. The texture will be similar to playdough.

Add the cocoa powder, coconut, lime zest, and salt, and process until all the ingredients are integrated.

Carefully remove the blade from the food processor bowl. Place parchment paper on a plate or baking sheet. Roll the dough into walnut-size balls and store them on the parchment paper.

If desired, roll the truffles in the coconut/cocoa powder concoction. In a small bowl, combine the shredded coconut and cocoa powder with a pinch of salt. Roll the truffles in this mixture until evenly coated. Refrigerate.

Craft a double boiler: Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a gentle boil. Place the dark chocolate chunks in a smaller saucepan that can comfortably fit on top of the medium pot.

Allow the chocolate to slowly melt, stirring with a metal teaspoon. Melting the chocolate in this manner allows it to melt gently, without scorching. It’s a tempering shortcut that yields a shiny, crisp chocolate.

Once the chocolate is melted, use the teaspoon to roll your truffle nuggets in the chocolate one at a time, until thoroughly coated. You may need to tip the pot toward you so the chocolate pools and you can submerge the truffle. Return coated truffles to the parchment paper.

If you wish, add a sprinkling of lime zest, coconut, and/or pink salt before the chocolate shell hardens. 

Refrigerate until about a half hour before serving.

Lauren Gernady is the Academic Coordinator of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher.

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