You guys have seen The Lion King, right? It’s my all-time favorite Broadway play (I’ve seen it 4 times) and, in my musical theatre days of elementary school, I dreamed of the day I would play Nala on the big stage. While I’ve learned to accept that this will likely never come to fruition, I still love the message of the movie and play the soundtrack whenever I want to feel that hint of childhood nostalgia.
We have a running joke in our kitchen that Mucuna, an incredibly powerful superfood we keep in our pantry, should really be called “Mucuna Matata” for it’s abilities to add a little pep to your step when you need it most. Hakuna Matata means “no worries” after all, doesn’t it? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mucuna, known for it’s mood enhancing properties, rhymes so perfectly with this famous tune that encourages positivity.
Mucuna, also known as Velvet Bean, is a vine that grows all over India and has been used in Ayurvedic practices for over two thousand years. Most recently, it is being linked to improvement amongst those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, though it’s other uses are widespread and fascinating to say the least.
Mucuna is my personal favorite herb to add during the winter season or when I’m going through anything that may put a damper on my mood. It is one of the strongest sources of L-Dopa, the pre-curser to the creation of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us experience feel-good emotions like happiness and pleasure and I think we can all agree this is a necessary component of a life well-lived. While there is no guarantee that your happiness could ever be entirely derived from a small dose of mucuna, I can attest that when I go too long without adding it into my diet I start to feel the difference mentally.
As a result of it’s dopamine-producing properties, mucuna is known to help with:
the body’s ability to handle stress
a boost in libido
maintaining a healthy nervous system
improved energy and endurance
Whenever I need a quick pick-me-up, I love to add mucuna to my favorite coffee + chocolate concoction. If you love a good mocha, you’ll die over this recipe! It truly tastes like a frappucino (minus all of the refined sugars). I use Sun Potion’s Mucuna powder, which you can purchase here. The smoothie recipe is super simple — give it a try!
1/2 cup nut milk (I used homemade cashew milk)
1 tsp. cacao powder
1/2 cup cold brew concentrate of choice (I’m hooked on Chameleon Coffee)
1/2 tsp. mucuna puriens
1 cup ice
sweetener of choice (I love to add honey or coconut sugar)
blend together and enjoy!