Let’s talk about mushrooms and hot chocolate, which sounds like something that would be served in a high-end experimental restaurant, doesn’t it? It’s also made several of my nearest and dearest wrinkle their noses when I’ve offered it to them, no matter how many vegan marshmallows I promise to put on top.
That’s because it just sounds weird, right?! When I was first introduced to the concept of mushroom hot chocolate, I envisaged button mushrooms bobbing in my steaming mug of cocoa, and was more than a little confused. It took me a little while to work up the courage to try something I thought was intrinsically odd, but when I did, wow - it blew my mind in a very good way.
Let me tell you why!
It’s not as simple as sticking a button mushroom in your mug. I think we can all agree that the idea of chopping up a bunch of mushrooms and sticking them in your hot chocolate is not a good one. But what if I told you that the mushrooms in question weren’t just your bog standard button mushrooms, or common chestnuts? The mushrooms used in hot chocolate are adaptogenic, which means they offer a number of health benefits designed to help you combat stress, amongst other things.
So, what’s an adaptogen? Adaptogens are non-toxic plants which are thought to help manage and relieve the symptoms of stress in the body by regulating the production of certain hormones which are known to affect our stress response.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), the mushroom used in Vivo Life’s MAGIC Raw Hot Chocolate, is an adaptogenic mushroom sometimes known as the ‘elixir of long life’. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for brain health, and to help strengthen our response to stressors. It supports the healthy functioning of our adrenal glands, which produce cortisol, a hormone that helps your body manage sleep cycle and stress response.
Not only that, reishi is also thought to aid in the treatment of certain chronic conditions, although more research is needed and ongoing in this area. There is currently a question surrounding whether you can take too many adaptogens, and you should always follow the directions on the packaging or consult a healthcare practitioner if you’re considering whether adaptogenic products are right for you!
It can do very good things for your sleep. Reishi contains a compound called triterpene, which is thought to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Triterpene is also believed to aid in better sleep patterns, and boost our body’s ability to heal. Add this to the warming, relaxing taste of hot chocolate, and you’ll be sleeping soundly in no time at all!
Some mushroom hot chocolates also contain another adaptogen, ashwagandha, which may help to lower your blood pressure and increase your resilience to stress. It can also help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety which can prevent a good night’s sleep.
It is healthier than regular hot chocolate. This might have a little less to do with the addition of mushrooms and their specific health benefits, and more to do with the actual hot chocolate ingredients themselves. When I wrote a guide to vegan hot chocolate (yes, I really do love it that much!) I spoke about how certain plant-based hot chocolates tend to be healthier than those containing animal products, artificial flavourings and ingredients. If you’re looking for a hot chocolate which you can sip knowing that you’re enjoying nothing but natural ingredients, then look no further than MAGIC Raw Hot Chocolate. It’s packed with antioxidants and minerals which can help to bolster your serotonin and dopamine levels, helping your overall mental wellbeing.
Mushroom hot chocolate tastes nothing like mushrooms. Now, I love mushrooms, but I’ve never really fancied being able to taste them in my hot chocolate. MAGIC Raw Hot Chocolate not only tastes of comforting cacao, but also has the warming loveliness of Ceylon cinnamon, and the butterscotch sweetness of coconut sugar. Made with plant milk or water, it is an excellent (and mindful) way to relax before bedtime. If I’m feeling really indulgent, I’ll add a little maple syrup for extra sweetness.
You can build a routine around it! Remember, a mug of hot chocolate isn’t going to make you fall asleep instantly, nor is it going to completely eliminate the day’s stress. What it can do, however, is become the bedrock for an evening routine which will help you to relax and unwind, and this is purely down to personal preference. It might be a warming mug of hot chocolate followed by a quiet session of journaling, or meditation. For me, it’s hot chocolate, a comfy spot on the sofa, a good book, and making sure I appreciate every last drop! A hearty contented sigh is an absolute must when drinking, too.