If you are anything like me then you might just love chocolate! I really do love the stuff and love creating gorgeous raw chocolate treats whenever I can. It is, of course, chocolate made with cacao and not overly processed cocoa that is the choice for me every time. But, are all cocoa’s bad for you?
What is cacao?
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which means it is raw and much less processed than cocoa powder or chocolate bars. Cacao is thought to be the highest source of antioxidants of all foods and the highest source of magnesium of all foods. It has been used throughout many cultures for years for health purposes and even used as a high trade commodity.
The cacao fruit tree, also known as Theobroma Cacao, produces cacao pods which are cracked open to release cacao beans. From there, cacao beans can be processed a few different ways.
Cacao butter is the fattiest part of the fruit and makes up the outer lining of the inside of a single cacao bean. It is white in colour and has a rich, buttery texture that resembles white chocolate in taste and appearance.
Cacao butter is removed from the bean during production and the remaining part of the fruit is used to produce raw cacao powder.
Cacao nibs are simply cacao beans that have been chopped up into edible pieces, much like chocolate chips without the added sugars and fats. Cacao nibs contain all of the fibre, fat, and nutrients that the cacao bean does.
Cacao paste comes from cacao nibs that have been slowly heated to preserve the nutrients and are melted into a bark known that is a less-processed form of dark chocolate bars. Cacao paste can be used to make raw vegan desserts or you can just eat it as an indulgent snack by itself!
Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder since more of the nutrients from the whole bean are still intact. Cacao is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, cholesterol-free saturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre, natural carbohydrates, and protein that make it an excellent source of nutrients.
What is cocoa?
Cocoa is the term used to refer to the heated form of cacao that you probably grew up buying at the shops in the form of cocoa powder or ‘hot chocolate’ powder blend.
Though cocoa may seem inferior to raw cacao, it’s actually very good for you (and less expensive) if you choose a variety without added sugars and milk fats or oils.
Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. Surprisingly, it still retains a large amount of antioxidants in the process and is still excellent for your heart, skin, blood pressure, and even your stress levels – so don’t write it off completely because it’s not raw. There are some amazing brands out there.
If you buy cocoa powder, be sure you buy plain cocoa powder, not cocoa mixes which often contain sugar. Look for either regular cocoa powder or Dutch-processed (a.k.a. dark) cocoa powder.
Dutch-processed cocoa powder (dark cocoa) is cocoa powder that has been processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic and much richer in taste. Regular cocoa powder retains a more acidic nature and bitter taste, and is used in baking recipes with baking soda where Dutch-processed cocoa powder is not since it has already been alkalized.
Cocoa powder is a rich source of fibre, has little fat, and has a bit of protein in it as well.
You can use cocoa powder and cacao powder interchangeably in baking recipes, smoothies, oatmeal, cookies, homemade raw treats, or even stir them into your coffee for a homemade mocha.
Both cacao and cocoa are highly nutritious for you and are sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings around the clock. If you want more nutrients, I would suggest you choose cacao, but if you want less calories and and decent source of antioxidants, then definitely go with cocoa powder.
(source One Green Planet)
I am on holiday at the moment (so don’t have my kitchen handy) and I am also fasting so there’s no chance of me getting to make some chocs. But, I thought, there may be a chance for me to make a sumptuous body butter and gorge my physical self (and if I manage to lick my own arm where’s the harm in that, right?)
Why would you bother to make your own I hear you ask? Well for precisely the reason above that a small amount of it may just get a little lick but mainly because: I shouldn’t be putting anything ON my body that I am not prepared to put IN it – a great way to think when trying to completely detox your world.
The skin benefits of cacao are reason enough!
- High in antioxidants to block harmful free-radicals
- High in skin-protecting vitamins like magnesium and vitamin C
- Healthy Omega 6 fatty acid that promotes cellular healing
- Raw enzymes promote cell repair and rejuvenation
- Absorb UV light to protect skin
- Helps protect and increase blood flow to the skin
- Improves skin’s hydration and complexion
Anyway I thought I would share with you one of my chocolate indulgences – Raw Chocolate Body Butter from my ebook Raw Amour. It’s so easy! Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (warmed)
- 1 cup cacao powder
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- Pinch Himalayan salt
Warm the coconut oil in a baine marie (double boiler) or place the jar in a bowl and pour boiling water around the jar to melt the oil. If you live in a hot climate then of course your oil will be liquid to start.
In a separate bowl, pour the coconut oil and slowly add the cacao powder and mix with a fork. Add the maple syrup and the pinch of salt and continue mixing until you get a lovely sticky buttery texture. If you feel you’d like it more runny then add more oil – play with it and make it your own!
Pour into a jar so it will firm or use immediately while its liquid. A perfect face mask and all over body butter. Whichever way you make it – indulge, enjoy and devour.
Keeping it juicy & raw