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Raw Cacao – (kə-kau, ka-kow) – more familiarly known as Cocoa or Chocolate comes from the cacao bean.

I was reading Megan Telpner’s blog when I first came across this natural gem. Intrigued by all the benefits, I went out right away and snagged a bag myself.

 

 

 

 

Lucky for us not only does chocolate taste amazing but I learned from Megan that it also has all these health benefits:

  • Theobroma (Cacao Beans)  literally means “Food of the Gods”. The Cacao plant was known as Goddess of the Seeds and Mexicans named the pounded seeds “Chocolate”.
  • Raw Cacao contains more antioxidant flavanoids than any other food tested.
  • Cacao is loaded with super- nutrients including massive quantities of magnesium which builds strong bones and balances brain chemistry important for a natural optimistic outlook. {yay for happiness! 😉 } Cacao contains more magnesium than any other food known! This is why us girls have those intense chocolate cravings during PMSOur body is screaming out for magnesium! Magnesium is the most deficient nutrient among people consuming a standard westernized diet.
  • Contains many rare key nutrients that enhance physical and mental well-being, including alkaloids, proteins, beta-carotene, leucine, linoleic acid, lipase, lysine, and some neurotransmitters such as dopamine and anandamine.
  • Contains natural mild monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors). These allow more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain and we know that seratonin is the happy chemical in our brain and MAO inhibitors also help keep us young and lively.
  • Contains Phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA can increases focus and alertness and helps us feel connected to others. Our brains naturally produce a small amount of PEA and much greater amounts when we are in love. Love can break our hearts, chocolate never does!

Naturally, today most people still love the stuff. Chocolate is comfort food.  When people think of chocolate they associate it with fond memories and happiness {I am sure you each have a sweet memory of baking cookies with someone special and eating globs of dough even though you weren’t supposed to…  and hey we have got to make sure it tastes as good as it looks}

There are many different ways chocolate is prepared – and quite often is sweetened with sugars and complimented with other natural flavors, which is pretty good in my book (as long as it doesn’t contain any kind of dairy or eggs). If I am baking, I am picky. I use high quality organic ingredients, and when possible I will substitute out the high glycemic sugars for lower glycemic sugar alternatives such as Brown Rice Syrup, Maple Syrup, Sucanant, Agave, and Stevia. And of course no dairy or eggs – which are easily replaced as well.

Unfortunately most commercial chocolate today is cultivated with pesticides, and then processed in a factory with chemicals, fillers, and dairy.  When it is made like this it becomes so far from the original plant that it loses all of its health benefits and becomes unhealthy. yuck!

Consumed this way it leads to cavities, acne, sugar addiction, weight gain, and diabetes…. and so on.  It’s such a shame that companies process foods and ruin them with chemicals.  Chemicals that harm us, that cause disease, that eventually kill … all just to save a buck.  Very disturbing.

So if you can stick to REAL CHOCOLATE that is made with REAL INGREDIENTS! If you are at a chocolate truffle shop or ice cream parlor don’t be afraid to ask what the ingredients are- in fact you should make a habit of always checking the ingredients on something processed.  You don’t want a mouthful of chemicals masked to taste like something its not.

If you are able to – cop yourself a bag of this stuff! The difference in taste quality between a bag of raw cacao and a box of generic cocoa powder is tremendous. The 16 oz. bag I have cost me about $15 and I usually order online @ iherb.  They sell most products for several dollars less than what you would find in your local health food store.  Trust me, it is worth the price and it will probably last you several months.

My favorite uses for cacao are for smoothies (there will be future recipes to come), sprinkle it on cooked oatmeal, puddings, vegan ice-creams, nut milk, nut butters, and non-baked goods, etc. You can even use it on your skin- but that will have to be a completely different post!  Keep in mind that this is raw chocolate, and in order to keep it’s health benefits you should not heat it above 118*.  If you need cocoa powder to bake or cook with, I suggest you go with a rich gourmet cocoa such as Ghirardelli.  Ghirardelli will knock your socks off as well 🙂

Have you tried raw cacao?! What is your favorite thing to create with it? 

xo Jennifer

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