Raw Cacao - how you can eat chocolate and it will be good for you too!

Thanks to Superfoodista for this fabulous graphic. Superfoods, David Wolfe's book about just that - superfoods, was the first new-age nutrition book I read and it seriously inspired me. My dad had also read it, so by the time I finished each chapter on a different superfood, it was most likely already in our cupboard! I remember reading with fascination about these traditional, ancient foods that were packed full of more nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than I could even fathom. Goji berries would keep me young (even though I was 16 at the time, it was appealing), bee products would fight infections and spirulina was the most complete protein food on the planet, despite being a seaweed/algae/plant, not meat.

But my favourite chapter was that on raw cacao - the bean that chocolate is made from. The moment when you realise chocolate (well, cacao actually) is one of the healthiest, most incredibly nutritious foods on the planet is one to be remembered! So what is the difference between chocolate and cacao and why is cacao so good for you?

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which grow on the cacao plant in large fruit pods full of the beans. To make chocolate these beans are roasted, ground and processed, sugar, milk, oils and other nasty things are added to it and then the whole thing is formed into one lovely chocolate bar. The result is NOT healthy. However, cacao, before it has been processed, heat treated or had anything added to it is incredibly healthy, as shown in the infographic above. It has particularly powerful mood-boosting properties, it causes feel-good hormones to be released and gives you that chocolate kick without the sugar slump afterwards. It is also super-rich in antioxidants, which as their name suggests, fights oxidation and cell damage in the body, helps prevent ageing and keeps your body running smoothly.

For more info on raw cacao, check out this article.

Raw cacao is now becoming more popular in the Western world and so you can buy raw cacao beans, nibs (beans crushed into smaller bits), powder (like your standard cocoa powder, minus the heat treating and processing) or butter (cacao butter is often used in healthy recipes, in a similar way to coconut oil). Cacao can be added to your smoothies, used as a topping on yogurt, add texture to a fruit salad or add a rich, chocolate flavour to healthy treats. Here are a few ideas of recipes that use cacao:

Raw Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake  Cherry Ripe Bars Avocado Chocolate Mousse Raw Cacao Bliss Balls Peanut Butter Chocolate Milkshake Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

Do you love raw cacao? How do you include this superfood in your diet?

Keep healthy, Erica xx