Most of us want to believe chocolate has some health benefits, right?
What if you were told it could be healthy to start and finish your day with chocolate ...
Herbalist Jordan Cohayney has brought her business, The Cacao Club, to the South Coast.
She says chocolate can be the perfect gift, not just for someone else, but ourselves too!
During COVID-19, Jordan's young family moved to her partner's hometown of Tomakin, where she has started sharing her discs of drinking chocolate with the community.
She was on a mission to break the stigma around chocolate and help people reconnect over a warm cup of cacao.
"When you need some extra comfort, someone's going through a hard time or having a birthday, you buy them chocolates as a gift of love and connection," she said.
Jordan shared her personal experience, feeling guilty when devouring chocolate.
Her perspective changed since discovering the health benefits of cacao as a plant spirit medicine.
Cacao is the base ingredient of chocolate, which Jordan says, contains an antidepressant quality linked to serotonin.
She explained cacao has a high dose of tyrosine which is the precursor to serotonin - our happiness and feel good chemical - which was released at a slow rate.
"You're able to experience your natural serotonin and the serotonin in the cacao for a much longer and heightened time," Jordan said.
"It's almost like you're riding high on your own happy hormones."
You may be asking, what's the difference between cacao and your block of Cadbury?
Cacao is one step away from eating the cacao bean from the tree, Jordan says.
"It's a better way to consume chocolate," she said.
"It's an artisanal wholefood and medicine."
Cacao is the more raw version of cocoa.
Ca-co-confusing? Cacao and cocoa are both spelled similar but are quite different.
Jordan said the temperature in which the bean is processed was one significant difference.
"To get the health benefits from the sweet treat, you must experience it in its unadulterated form," she said.
In the kitchen of The Rivermouth General Store at Tomakin, Jordan grinds cacao beans and cooks them at extremely low temperatures.
The chocolate bars are colourfully wrapped and labelled with her brand.
She creates a variation of blends infused with herbs for certain health benefits.
Jordan was proud of her product's success.
"It's a great bridge for people to connect to herbal medicine," she said.
"As a herbalist, I would struggle to get people to take their herbs."
She said cacao wasn't only consumed by people seeking the medicinal benefits. Many of her customers share the drinking experience through ceremony and ritual.
"Cacao naturally relaxes the nervous system, there have been studies saying it's an antiphobic - which means our fears and anxiety is lowered when we drink cacao, unlike coffee which heightens our anxiety," she said.
Instead of coffee, Jordan says drinking cacao was a healthy alternative at any time of day.
She has helped others understand how it can be used as a tool for meditation in a group setting or solo.
"It can implement a daily mindfulness practice - a moment of stillness and reflecting while you drink medicine and connect to earth," she said.
Chemically it's helping to quieten the mind and relax the body, helping us feel in touch a bit moreJordan Cohayney
During her modelling career in London, Jordan became insecure and lost her awkward quirky self.
"For 10 years I was working as a fashion model," she said.
"It's such a one-dimensional world, where all that matters is how you look - it was always about presenting myself in a really perfect way."
Jordan spent time in South America learning about ancient practices and cacao as a plant spirit medicine.
She went back to London and started holding cacao ceremonies.
"I thought I needed to bring it to the city, people need this feeling and these spaces," she said.
"Cacao ceremonies were very popular in London, people needed that space to come back to themselves and a tool to be able to do that.
"It's a great way to open up and express our truth and vulnerability. It can give us courage and we can present ourselves without a fear of judgement.
"There aren't many situations where we can be vulnerable and open in this world."
Through cacao ceremonies, Jordan was able to embrace her personality and become comfortable with her imperfections.
She now guides groups through cacao experiences.
"It's about showing people it is okay to be vulnerable and that no one is perfect," she said.
"We are all allowed to be human and to not judge anyone on an awkward encounter."
At the end of the rituals, Jordan said people feel safe and open in each others company.
"Not everyone can meditate and be still with their mind," she said.
"Cacao is the tool, it's like the bridge to helping us trust what's within us. Helping us tap into that."
"Chemically it's helping to quieten the mind and relax the body, helping us feel in touch a bit more."
Since moving to the South Coast, after bushfires and through COVID, Jordan saw a need for cacao.
"It's different here, compared to London, everyone says hello and there is a real sense of community," she said.
"But I wonder is if there's room for more authentic expression?
"When you pass someone on the street, does the connection go deeper than asking 'what did you get up to on the weekend?'
"Could we start to break down the guards and ask 'how are you?' Because after fires and COVID - people are not okay."
Through cacao ceremonies, Jordan creates spaces for people to learn how to be more approachable, vulnerable and to reach out for help.
"We put people in boxes to make sense of the world," she said.
"You think people have it together, but when they open up, they are dying inside.
"It's often the people you least expect."
If you struggle to close your eyes and meditate on your own, Jordan says cacao could be the next best thing to helping someone understand what they need, emotionally and physically.
"It's about getting back in touch with the body," she said.
"You don't have to do a ceremony to drink it, you can drink it however you want.
"This could be something people adopt and is more appealing."
For upcoming cacao ceremonies and online events, follow The Cacao Club on Instagram.