It All Starts With a Bean
Chocolate begins with a bean... a cacao bean. The scientific name of the cacao tree's fruit is "Theobroma Cacao" which means "food of the gods." In fact, the cacao bean was worshiped as an idol by the Mayan Indians over 2,000 years ago.
The cacao bean is often thought of as a culinary nut. Raw organic cacao is high quality cacao and can be used in raw food treats like smoothies, brownies and pies.
When you taste raw cacao for the first time, it will taste somwhat bitter, but it has a way of growing on you.
Cacao contains a wide array of unique properties and minerals, including high levels of sulfur and magnesium. It may increase your focus and alertness and contains nutrients that elevate your mood, keeping you "happier".
Dark Chocolate: Studies have shown this decadent favorite, in small amounts, may help to lower inflammation and improve blood flow -reducing risk for heart disease (among other health benefits).
Like better quality coffee, olive oil, or wine, fine chocolate is worth the splurge - not only for eating out of hand, but for baking too. Now you can find a remarkable selection - from unsweetened and bittersweet to sweeter varieties like dark chocolate and milk chocolate - even at the supermarket.
Cacao seeds provide nutritive value beyond that of their macronutrient composition. Which is great news for chocolate lovers.
Look for brands with the percentage of cacao - the proportion of cocoa to sugar and other ingredients) on the label. And note that the higher the percentage of cacao you select, the richer your chocolate experience will be.
Cacao beans are, like the name suggests, the main constituent of chocolate. Theobroma Cacao, was highly sought after during the Aztec epoch in South America, and cups of cacao were offered up to the Gods during ceremonies. The cacao beans that are yielded from this their handsome evergreen are saturated with antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, iron and other essential minerals. They are also low in fat.
Cacao beans are also a good source of amino acids, protein, calcium, potassium, copper and sulphur. They contain more antioxidants than green tea, goji berries, and most other foods that are touted as antioxidant superfoods. Cacao beans are a super food in their own right.
Nutrition Nibble: Aztec kings drank over twenty cups a day of pure chocolate to aid their strength and vitality.
Cacoa Nibs are the edible part of the cocoa bean that has been removed from the pod, fermented, dried, broken into pieces and shelled. This minimal processing does not destroy any of the nutrients in the cocoa. It develops the flavor of the nibs, decreases the bitterness and preserves them for shipping.
The nibs are rich in anti-oxidants; vital minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium; Vitamins E, D, C, A and B1; healthy fats (cacoa butter); and mood modifiers anandamide, phenylethylamine, and tryptophan and essential Omega 6 fatty acids.
Cacao butter is the pure, cold-pressed oil of the cacao bean, often used to make raw cacao bars and other desserts.
Nutrient Power of Cacao Beans
Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world, including polyphenols, catechins, and epicatechins. By weight, raw cacao contains more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, Acai Berry, Pomegranate, and goji berries combined. Raw cacao has 540 percent more antioxidant power than organic blueberries!
Nutrient Power of Cacao Powder
Since raw cacao is not processed, it retains important vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and iron. One ounce of raw cacao powder contains about 64 calories, 9 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, 4 percent of your daily calcium needs and 22 percent of your daily iron needs.
Raw cacao power is typically added to smoothies and other beverages.
Cacao nibs are roasted and hulled cacao beans that have been prepared right up to the stage before they are ground to become chocolate. These tiny, brown morsels are crunchier than cofee beans and have a nutty, bittersweet flavor profile.
Known as an energy booster and mood-enhancer, they are great added to breakfast fare like oatmeal, pancakes, and smoothies. Try using them in place of chocolate chips and nuts in baked goods, too.
Cacao Smoothie Recipe
2 scoops hemp protein powder
2 cups milk (hemp, dairy, rice, soy or coconut)
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 cup ice
Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until creamy and smooth. If you want a protein boost, try making the recipe with 3 to 4 scoops of protein powder.
1 (6-ounce) vanilla low fat yogurt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cacao
1 sliced apple
Stir cacao into yogurt. Serve apple slices alongside.
Cacao Chia Pudding Recipe
Deep and intense, this chocolaty dessert is rich in magnesium, iron, zinc, and many other powerful nutrients.
2-1/2 cups water
1 cup raw cashews
5 chopped soft, pitted dates (soak in hot water for an hour if dates are hard)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract Dash salt
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/3 cup chia seed
In a food processor or high power blender, process the water, cashews, dates, vanilla extract, and salt. Pulse until absolutely smooth. Add the cacao powder and chia, and blend just until smooth. Pour into dessert cups and refrigerate overnight until firm. Recipe makes 2 servings.
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