Goji berries (Lycium Barbarum) are sometimes referred to as the “Chinese Wolfberry”.
These berries are the perfect blend of sweet and tart. It’s easy to grab a handful and snack, but there are many ways to incorporate this superfood into your diet.
These superberries are pink-red and dried, resembling the shape of raisins. Their tart flavor is reminiscent of a cranberry.
- Eyes and UV rays. Great for your eyes and fighting UV ray damage due to the zeaxanthin levels. The taurine can also help reduce eye disease caused by diabetes.
- Antioxidants. High levels of antioxidants like vitamin A, B, C, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and selenium. According to the US Department of Agriculture, goji berries have 10 times the amount of antioxidants that blueberries do.
- Combats aging and cancer risks. Fights free radicals, which are known for causing both aging and cancer.
- Boosts your immune system. Improved immune function helps you fight off infections and viruses.
- Improves memory, concentration, and general mental health. Improved mental health by reducing fatigue and stress while improving energy levels and sleep quality.
- Diabetes control. In addition to reducing eye disease caused by diabetes, goji berries contain a large amount of hypoglycemic properties.
- Reduces cholesterol. Cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease. Goji berries can reduce high cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels.
- Improved male fertility. Goji berries are a male aphrodisiac in China. Goji berries regulate sexual hormone release, improve sperm quantity and boost hormone levels.
Dark chocolate, when eaten in moderation, is good for you as well. You will get the most benefit from dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa. The better quality the dark chocolate is, the more benefit you will receive from it. This is not only in flavor, but also in taste.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
- Heart benefits. Two to three servings of dark chocolate per week can reduce blood pressure. Dark chocolate can also increase blood flow, prevent blood clots, and prevent arteriosclerosis (artery hardening).
- Controls blood sugar. It may sound surprising, but dark chocolate helps improve circulation and blood vessel health, which can help ward off type 2 diabetes. Dark chocolate’s flavonoids can reduce insulin resistance.
- Brain health. In addition to increasing blood flow to the heart, dark chocolate can improve your cognitive function. The phenylethylamine (PEA) in dark chocolate is that chemical that mimics the feeling of falling in love. It also increases feel-good endorphin release, which boosts your mood.
- Cancer and aging. The antioxidants in dark chocolate help fight free radicals, which damage your body’s cells. Free radicals are also heavily involved in the body’s aging process. This means eating dark chocolate can help prevent cancer and help aging.
- Vitamins and minerals. Dark chocolate is high in copper, potassium, iron and magnesium. Copper and potassium help cardiovascular health. Magnesium wards off type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Iron fights anemia.
- Hardens tooth enamel. You’ve probably heard that eating sweets will rot your teeth. While this may be true, dark chocolate contains theobromine, which hardens tooth enamel. Eating dark chocolate (and not other sweets) will reduce your risk of getting a cavity if you also practice good dental hygiene.
- Cough suppressant and stimulant. The theobromine is also a mild stimulant. It’s not as much as drinking a cup of tea or coffee, but it can be mildly stimulating. The theobromine also works as a cough suppressant.
Fun Fact: There is a man named Li Qing Yuen who lived to be 252 years old and was said to have consumed Goji berries every day. Are they capable of extending life? While there are no studies yet to prove this, these berries are known for a multitude of health benefits.
Chocolate and goji taste great together. The dark chocolate lends a sweetness to the tart Goji flavor. You can customize this in many ways to make it your own. This recipe makes 4 servings.
- 200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
- 2 Tbsp. goji berries
- 2 Tbsp. chopped nuts (see suggestions below)
- ¼ to ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract (to taste)
- Line a cookie tray or baking dish with parchment paper. You can make your bark as thin or thick as you want it to be, but keep in mind the thicker it is, the longer it needs to set.
- Break the dark chocolate into smaller pieces and melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. (If you don’t own a double boiler, you can use a heat-proof bowl in a large pan of boiling water.)
- Stir continuously until the dark chocolate is fully melted and there are no chunks left.
- Add vanilla and stir the chocolate mixture well.
- Carefully pour chocolate mixture onto your parchment paper.
- Top chocolate with goji berries, nuts, and any other additives you want.
- Refrigerate the chocolate for 30 minutes or so, depending on how thick the chocolate mixture is spread. It will be set when it’s hard and doesn’t indent when you touch it.
- Cut the chocolate into serving sizes.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.
Here are a few add-in ideas to get you started:
- coconut oil
- protein powder
- sea salt
- cocoa butter
- extract alternatives such as orange or raspberry
Grown Your Own Goji Berries
Have you considered growing your own goji berries? Goji berry plants are woody perennials, preferring hot and dry climates, but are also very adaptable.
Gojo berries will grow in humid climates as well. You can build your own sustainable source of Goji berries, so you can eat them fresh any time you want.
There are over 80 varieties of Goji berries, but try to find the Lycium Barbarum for the most nutrition. The shrub itself probably won’t bear fruit until it’s third year, so the earlier you plant it, the better.
You can also enjoy a hot cup of Goji cranberry lemon tea.
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