Raw Cacao Health Properties (+Recipe) | Veggiecation© a Culinary-Nutrition Education Program About Vegetables
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Friday, 14 February 2014 10:09

Raw Cacao Health Properties (+Recipe)

Chocolate has been around for centuries – as far back as the Roman Empire – and has been highly regarded for everything from its powerful properties to its unique flavor. The chocolate that was first introduced to Europe in the 16th Century however, was not the same as the milk chocolate-y sweetness that you find in cardboard shaped hearts on Valentine’s Day. There was no such thing as chocolate filled caramel or chocolate covered peanuts, the original version of chocolate is something that you can now find in health food stores called Cacao.

 

Raw Cacao is the least processed form of chocolate. It’s not sweet like the chocolate you probably imagine when you hear the word, but it’s got the same distinguishing flavor of chocolate. Cacao (pronounced ka-cow) grows in a seed pod that contains 40-60 cacao seeds. Once these seed pods, pictured below, are harvested, their seeds are removed, dried and fermented, and in about 2 weeks, you have your raw cacao!

cacao

Cacao is processed into cocoa when roasted at very high temperatures. Unfortunately, the temperatures needed for roasting significantly reduces the health benefits of raw cacao.

So why should we opt for the raw cacao over the processed cocoa bean?

Cacoa is significantly less processed and much more nutrient-dense.  Not only is the cocoa roasted, but it is then commonly mixed with sugar, milk, and other substances to provide the flavors that most people have become accustomed to. At that point, chocolate has lost it’s health benefits and provides just empty calories.

Conversely cacoa is contains a vast amount of body benefiting vitamins and minerals:

  • It is one of the best dietary sources of Magnesium! Magnesium helps muscle and nerve function, as well as, supports healthy heart function.
  • It also aids in digestion. Chocolate bars don’t have any fiber, but munching on cacao nibs will provide you with roughly 9 grams.
  • It’s filled with antioxidant power. This helps fight free radicals that cause damage to the body.
  • It helps improve your mood! Who couldn’t stand to smile a little more? Cacao stimulates the brain to release certain feel good neurotransmitters.
  • It gives you energy. Cacao contains a chemical that we produce naturally when excited. This chemical allows us to stay focused and alert.

 

Here’s a super simple recipe for Raw Cacao Truffles (modified recipe from KarmaChow.com)

Ingredients

  • ½ c.Raw Cacao Butter, melted
  • ½ c. Raw Cashews (or  Raw Sunflower Seeds when there is a nut allergy)
  • ½ c. Agave Nectar
  • 1 c.Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions

In a food processor or blender, add the cacao butter, cashews or sunflower seeds, and agave. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients.

Put the mixture into the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes.

When the mixture has chilled, remove from the fridge and use a tablespoon to scoop out. Roll into balls with your hands.

Roll in coconut shreds or sprinkle with raw cacao for added flavor!

Store in the refrigerator.

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