18 Feb Raw Cacao: A Super Duper Food!
Raw cacao (pronounced Ka-Cow) is a favorite food of mine; how could it not be when it’s the best form of chocolate you could provide your body!
The cacao beans come from the Theobroma cacao tree. While cocoa and cacao are two different words, they essentially mean the same thing although we generally use cocoa to refer to a more processed chocolate product with added sugar, versus the raw cacao, which has no sugar.
The forms of cacao you’ll see most often are cacao nibs and cacao powder. Cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been roasted,separated from their husks, and broken into smaller pieces. Cacao powder is the nib ground into powder form and can be a wonderful addition to baked goods and smoothies!
Beyond the yummy, bitter chocolate taste of raw cacao come all the antioxidant and mineral benefits of the food. Note to all of you milk-chocolate lovers; it may take some time for you to get used to the flavor of cacao nibs and powder. Be patient and start by mixing it with other yumminess in your morning smoothie.
Cacao is known as the most potent antioxidant food in the world. We know this because of its ORAC score. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and was created by the United States Department of Agriculture to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage in our body. Our cells are the foundation of a healthy body. When we have happy, healthy cells our body can thrive for a long time, and this is indeed why cacao is known as a “longevity” food. It helps people live well for a long time which is, I believe, what all of us want in this life.
Here are the top ORAC rated foods in the world:
ORAC scores for the Top 10 Antioxidants Foods (per 100 grams)
- Raw cocoa powder 95,500
- Raw cacao nibs 62,100
- Roasted cocoa powder 26,000
- Organic goji berries 25,300
- Acai berries 18,500
- Dark chocolate 13,120
- Milk chocolate 6,740
- Prunes 5,770
- Raisins 2,830
- Blueberries 2,400
Source: US Department of Agriculture/Journal of American Chemical Society
The cacao bean is a great source of magnesium which is needed for over 300 processes in our body. Among many things, magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function and helps keep our heart in steady rhythm.
While you don’t find fiber in a chocolate bar, raw cacao provides a hearty 9 grams of fiber in one ounce and has the highest amount of plant-based iron to keep our red blood cells happy. Raw cacao will help keep you alert as well with its phenylethylamine content.
Word of caution about raw cacao:
Cacao contains theobromine which is a nervous system stimulant and dilates blood vessels much like caffeine does. Start with small amounts of raw cacao, as some people are sensitive to this caffeine -like effect. You’ll know best how to get the benefits from this amazing food while honoring your body’s response.
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Cheers to your health and happiness!
Dark Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies
Angie’s Note: The whole family will love this sweet treat! You can serve it up with breakfast or enjoy it in front of the warm fire for an evening dessert. It’s packed with superfoods that will nourish the body and help keep your blood sugar balanced. This is love in a cup!
2 cups vanilla almond, coconut, or oat milk
1 Tbsp. (heaping) raw cacao (you may use cocoa powder as even exchange)
1 Tbsp. raw honey or pure agave nectar
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
½ tsp. cinnamon
Heat the almond milk on the stovetop, to just under a boil and then add all the ingredients to your blender or Vitamix and blend for a minute.