So that’s chocolate as in cacao, raw cacao; that which all other chocolate and “chocolate” is born. If you would ask anyone what thei impression of chocolate is, they would likely say some of the following…it’s sweet…my dessert of choice…it’s fattening, so I stay away from it…it’s a good caffeine boost…or to my die hard chocaholic sisters and brothers: it’s the death of me!
Well, you don’t have to thank me now–but Christmas has come early this year, my friends. Chocolate does not actually have to be any of those things, and as I’ll describe, in its raw state, it is NOT any of those things. Cacao is bitter. Not sweet, in fact it’s not sweet at all until we add things to it. So not sweet, that if you look at the nutrition panel on cacao nibs, you will see “Sugars….0 grams”. So already I was interested, the clean foodie I am! Fattening and unhealthy? Negative. Negative. It’s a superfood in fact, and though that term gets tossed around quite a bit, there’s only a few of them out there–about 7, and raw cacao is one of them. That means it possesses such a unique combination of nutrients that it measureably can promote life. Take a look at these:
- Raw cacao has more antioxidants than blueberries, green tea and red wine combined–more than 4 times over; so it helps repair and resist damage caused by free radicals, and may reduce risk of certain cancers.
- It helps regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, lowers LDL cholesterol, and reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks more than any other food.
- It makes us happy (not just in mind, but actually scientifically): Cacao raises the level of serotonin in the brain; thus acts as an anti-depressant, helps reduce PMS symptoms, and promotes a sense of well-being
- The minerals that Cacao is rich in are endless, but Magnesium is at the top of the list: Cacao seems to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and helps regulate heartbeat and blood pressure. Magnesium deficiency, present in 80% of Americans, is linked with PMT, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and joint problems.
- And no, it will not make you fat. Just ask any of your overweight rawist friends (haha): That fats found in cacao are healthy fats…think avocado. So it actually helps digest food, burns very easily as fuel, and keeps you feeling full longer.
The trouble is when producers, even the environmentally astute, even the 85% base bars that have handcrafted, recycled paper for wrappers, and had women in Ghana craft it…once chocolate is heated, even a little bit–it loses the benefits I mention above. And heat typicallly comes along with added sugar. Literal sugar, corn syrup–and a myriad of other unnatural sweeteners. Sorry, organic cane sugar counts too. And that’s when you start to get into weight gain, cravings, blood sugar spikes, etc.
So you’ve decided to believe me, and now you don’t knwo what to do with your decidedly bitter chunks of raw cacao. I was surprised myself at how that bitterness can actually work FOR the cacao–you get a real richness, and decadence when you:
- Sprinkle in your overnight oats, other cereals or kefir
- And, shakes! Forget about it. Half a frozen banana, raw cacao powder, and unsweetened cocnut flakes…HEAVEN
- Blend into coffee and teas
- Make a chocolate bar/fudge…raw cocao powder, coconut oil, agave nectar, pinch of salt, scrape of vanilla, some nuts–you’re in business!!
It’s really limitless! But for now, I leave you with my favorite amazing food find yet. At 70 calories for TWO TABLESPOONS…Emmie’s Raw chocolate sauce is heaven in a jar. A delicacy to end all other delicacies. 100% raw, and 200% delicious. Perfect in…everything. And most perfect alone. Still, you’ve got to get some raw cocoa nibs and powder too. Totally versatile, and so super healthy. Afterall, it is on that same coconut shortlist of super foods! ENJOY!