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Losing weight by eating delicious chocolate? My moment of illumination

Get illumin8ed! Lose weight by eating well; and by well, we mean by eating chocolate. Life is so awesome sometimes! Plus! A chocolate cherry smoothie recipe!

Illuminate. What does that mean? According to Merriam-Webster, there are a few different choices. My favorite definition is this: “to enlighten spiritually or intellectually.”

As I sit here and enjoy this Chocolate Cherry Smoothie made with Sunwarrior’s intensely delicious Illumin8 plant-based organic meal replacement shake in Aztec Chocolate flavor, I’m enlightened about what weight loss really entails, and how my own challenging process has led me to what I believe is the most delicious, nutritious, and satisfying diet on the planet.

Following each of my complicated pregnancies, I struggled to lose weight. The more I failed, the worse I felt about myself. My sense of self-love tangled with the flawed concept of will-power, or the power to starve myself and lose weight. I always believed that some form of starvation and suffering was necessary if I was to be truly tough or committed.

I remember one day in particular back when I was on a mainstream packaged-food diet and knew I had already eaten my designated chemical-bomb bars for the afternoon. I was driving to a furniture store to complete a purchase with my baby in tow. I was starving and miserable but knew I had to be strong and push through the day. This is just what I’d accepted as the weight loss process. I was unhappy. I didn’t love myself. And I was setting myself up for a cycle of failure with every passing week.

Unsurprisingly, I lost a few pounds on those expensive, unrealistic diet programs. But that kind of weight loss never lasted. My body craved real food and high-quality nutrition. Ultimately, I failed. Thank goodness, really. It was those failures that led to my moment of illumination. When I hit rock bottom and couldn’t see a way to lose the pregnancy weight once and for all, I finally discovered a raw vegan lifestyle, and the rest is history. (And so is the weight!)

Now, eight years into my journey as a raw vegan, I can’t believe I used to live that way, punishing myself all the time. Today, I am my strongest, happiest self, and I accomplish this with ample food intake that supports my energy levels and nourishes my body in full. My diet is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and healthy fats like avocado and hemp seed. I also enjoy high-quality raw vegan protein from Sunwarrior and was thrilled when they released the illumin8 line of shakes.

illumin8 makes for a filling, energizing meal on the go, as it contains, not only clean plant-based protein, but also gluten-free carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of fiber, too. As a busy mom, I am always needed somewhere, so it has been wonderful to have illumin8 in my arsenal of healthy food choices that I can prepare in minutes. I can whip up a shake, put it into a glass mason jar with a screw-top lid, and zip out the door to take my son to practice, no problem! And no temptation or cravings for unhealthy foods because I am already well-nourished.

As a vegan culinary artist and raw food teacher, I was excited to experiment with illumin8 in the kitchen. Because it contains so many hearty and nutrient-dense plant ingredients on its own, I found that I could blend it with a banana and water and enjoy it in its simplest form that way. But I love to include fresh water-rich plants in my meals whenever possible, too. So I made quite a few different smoothies using raw fruits and greens. Some of these varieties included blending a scoop of illumin8 with 3 cups of greens like kale, chard, collards, or spinach along with bananas, berries, and water. (Note: If you use kale in a green smoothie, I recommend removing the stems first, as they can be bitter.) illumin8 blended well with every smoothie I created. Of course, my favorite is the recipe I’m sharing below. That one knocked my socks off.

Now, let’s dive into this truly yummy Chocolate Cherry Smoothie recipe that is both simple and fast to prepare while packing in ample plant-based nutrition to keep you fueled all day. Chocolate and cherries tend to conjure up an image of dessert, and rightfully so. Chefs worldwide pair these flavors to bring clientele a magical culinary experience, but often this is at the cost of the diner’s health as they ingest sweets packed with animal fats, refined sugar, and processed flour. In contrast, I’ve blended Sunwarrior’s Aztec chocolate Illumin8 with wholesome fruits to give it the same delectable flavor as a sweet dessert without any of the unhealthy ingredients. You win, your body wins, and your taste buds REALLY win.

So there’s my moment of illumination, and hopefully yours, too: You can lose weight and attain your best health by eating delicious chocolate! Who knew? Leave behind the fad diets, the starvation, and all that self-sabotaging guilt FOREVER. Be illuminated. Be happy. Be healthy!

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