When it comes to pick-me-ups, most of us don’t mind a piece or two of chocolate. We know it’s a little indulgent and naughty and unfortunately lacks the nutrition we need for good health but we consume it all the same. Now, what if I told you that we could eat chocolate that still tastes indulgent, but is rich in nutrition and flavour?
Let’s talk the facts about cacao and then I’ll show you how to bring this high energy, nutrient dense superfood of the gods into your life.
Cocoa vs Cacao
Not all cocoa is created equal. Raw cacao is produced by simple measures. The cacao beans are cold pressed, the cocoa butter (fat) is removed and voila, we have our raw cacao. This differs to the cocoa you may typically see in supermarkets (Dutch cocoa may be the first to spring to mind). Cocoa produced for consumers, sold in supermarkets or for commercial manufacturing of many of the chocolate bars we recognise, is treated under heat. By undergoing heat treatment many of the beautiful enzymes and nutrients present in the cacao bean are damaged and the nutrition is significantly reduced. Cocoa combined with sugars, additives, hydrogenated fats and preservatives to form sweet chocolates don’t offer your body much other than an overload of ingredients and provide little benefit to your health.
A bounty bar of benefits
So, let’s talk about the true superfood of the gods, its incredible properties and what good quality, nutritious chocolate can do for you!
Raw cacao is full of antioxidants, amino acids, magnesium, zinc, iron and phytonutrients just to name a few. These incredible properties are known to:
- Increase energy levels: raw cacao is rich in magnesium which is an important mineral in the energy production pathway
- Improve your mood: raw cacao triggers and increases neurotransmitters which give the sensation of happiness (and love…look out for that one when taking a bite)
- Support cardiovascular function: with its rich source of antioxidants, raw cacao protects and supports cardiovascular function by reducing blood pressure, relaxing blood vessels and balancing toxicity in the cardiovascular system.
The best part, however, is when you eat raw cacao you’ll be uplifted, experience the true flavour of chocolate and feel the zing coming from its delicious, natural, raw energy.
Have your chocolate, and eat it too…
The wonderful nourishing properties in raw cacao can help our bodies feel better satisfied making us less likely to overindulge to get our chocolate buzz. This makes raw cacao as part of a snack or a meal the perfect choice to balance our energy throughout the day. Now meal and snack times can take on a whole new flavour and nutritious buzz and may look a little something like this…
- Raw cacao, almond and banana smoothie as a breakfast or snack
- Raw cacao, date, oat and coconut bliss balls as a delicious treat for kids after school or in their lunchbox
- Hot chocolate made with raw cacao, cinnamon and stevia (for sweetness)
- Raw choc chia puddings for breakfast to pick up your energy and nourish with beautiful essential fats too
- Raw cacao mixed through Mexican Chili Con Carne to add depth of flavour and heavenly nutrition
- Raw cacao tossed with melted coconut oil and rice puffs for a new age variation on a cocoa crackles/puffs.
And finally, look no further than a delightful way to impress your dinner guests (or simply to have a little moment to yourself) with this recipe for Raw Chocolate with Fig, Currants and Spice. A treat that tastes indulgent but feeds your body high quality nutrition is truly the spice of life!
Raw Chocolate With Fig, Currants and Spice
Makes 1 block of chocolate 20x20cm
⅔ cup coconut oil
¾ cup raw cacao powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
pinch of sea or himalayan crystal salt
pinch of vanilla powder or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup dried figs, finely sliced
¼ cup currants
Line a 20x20cm cake tin or loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Place coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat on the stove and melt.
Remove from heat and whisk in cacao, spices, maple syrup, sea salt and vanilla.
Pour raw melted spiced chocolate into tin and tip the tin to spread evenly.
Drop currants and figs into the chocolate and place in refrigerator to set for 2 hours or more before serving.