A powerful superfood
Cacao ( also known as cocoa ) beans
A definition straight from Wikipedia…
Raw chocolate is chocolate which is produced in a raw or minimally-processed form. It is made from unroasted (sun-dried) cacao beans and cold pressed cacao butter.
The beans are ground into cocoa mass (cocoa paste). The mass is melted to become the liquor, and the liquor is either separated into cocoa solids and cocoa butter, or cooled and molded into blocks of raw chocolate.
You can add a variety of crystalline and liquid sweeteners added to make it more suitable for our palate. This could be coconut sugar, coconut nectar, xylito, agave nectar, maple syrup, and stevia. Cane sugar and other highly processed sugars are not used.
Nuts, seeds and dried fruits can be added to add density and flavour.
Dairy products are not added to raw chocolate, therefore it is usually vegan. Soy is also usually avoided – soy lecithin is often used in processed chocolate. It is also naturally gluten-free.
Food of the Gods
The cocoa beans are actually the seeds found inside the pods that are harvested from the cacao tree. The cacao tree, also known as Theobroma cacao, translates as “Food of the Gods”.
Cacao beans were originally known to have divine properties. A raw chocolate guru once told us it’s so powerful that it’s actually about the most nutrient dense food on the planet. Wow, how did we not know that ! In S. America, where it originates, the Aztecs and Mayans placed these beans at very high value and used them as currency… 100 beans could buy them a chicken.
Health benefits of raw cocoa
Raw, powdered cacao is oozing with flavonoids, which lower free radicals. These free radicals are effectively chemicals which can damage or change our body make-up. Flavonoids are great for us because they act as antioxidents in our body, and it is these antioxidants that protect our bodies from ageing and disease caused by the free radicals.
Apparently, raw cocoa contains the highest level of antioxidents provided by natural food, in the whole world !
The cacao bean is also rich in magnesium, an energy mineral and vital electrolyte, which is associated with calming the body’s nervous system.( ref: bodyandsoul.com )
According to Good Cause Wellness, the cocoa beans also provide some iron and calcium ( ref: livestrong.com)
The high levels of antioxidants in the raw cacao also gives us the same benefits if we apply it externally to the skin ! Yes go ahead and put that raw chocolate mask on! How many of us have had an anti-ageing chocolate massage ! It protects and repair the skin from damage. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, soothing redness, and improving the skin’s complexion. So this is why you will find soothing chocolate masks for the face, and why your more sensitive skin recovers so well after a chocolate waxing. ( All in the name of research of course, we have tried and tested it all for you… and it works.)
cocoa in moderation…
You can get your healthy cocoa daily in home made raw cocoa hot chocolate, smoothies, or home made chocolates even. To get started, check out the chocolate making kits in the shopping links below. We’ve just bought the vegan and diabetic friendly chocolate making starter kit as gifts for daughter and father, so we’ll see how they get on and let you know.
As always too much of a good thing can’t be all good… so don’t be a cocoaholic !
Your own chocolate heaven
The first chocolate recipe was made by the Aztecs in the 1600’s. It was a bit bitter, so they added sweeteners. As usual, our ( commercial ) world has taken this too far and what was an amazing superfood, has now become sin food. We are slowly taking control again and getting back to the goodness nature intended for us.
Pure raw chocolate can be too much though on its own, so its good to also add a variety of the good ingredients below (sweeteners, oils, nuts and seeds) to make your own chocolate heaven.
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Just to make it easy for you below, we have outlined the meaning of all the food ingredients associated with the cocoa bean. Note: Cocoa is just the english translation of Cacao.
- Cacao butter, also called theobroma oil, is a pure, stable fat that is pressed out of cacao beans. It is light coloured and has the flavor and aroma of cocoa. Extra cocoa butter is usually added to make chocolate.
- Cocoa solids are a mixture of many substances remaining after the cocoa butter is extracted from the beans. The beans are then ground into cocoa powder. When sold as an end product, it may also be called cocoa powder or cocoa.
Cocoa liquor is pure cocoa mass ( also known as paste) in solid or semi-solid form. It contains both cocoa solids and cocoa butter in roughly equal proportion. The term liquor is an old term meaning fluid, and it does not mean it’s alcoholic! The Cacao Wafers in the shopping list below are made from the paste of organic premium ground Cacao Beans.
- Cacao nibs are little crunchy dried and fermented bits of the cacao bean. Think of the texture like a roughly ground coffee bean.
Cocoa Shopping Guide
We’ve also checked at Amazon UK, lots of ingredients you can use to make your own heavenly chocolate. We’ve listed them below and will keep editing as we come across more great recipes for you. In one of the recipes you will see the ingredient “luo han guo” . That just means monk fruit, an alternative sweetener like stevia, and in fact can be easily replaced with stevia too.
If you are taking baby steps, perhaps just start with the cacao powder. We’re going to get some and will create some healthy chocolate milk and smoothie recipes for you soon. We’d also like to have a go at making our own date paste, we heard it’s simple to do ( Step 1: Push crushed pitted dates into a saved jam jar till they reach the top ! Step 2: top up with water and seal in fridge overnight. Step 3: should be soft now so just blend to a paste and keep the jar in the fridge…should last about a month. )
Or just start with the boxed set below as a gift for yourself or some other lucky person !
Some final advice…
You might also need a hand blender for some recipes, a more powerful one for others. So if you don’t have one, check here to find out everything you need to know about buying the right one for you.
Bon appetit x