On Thursday I ran a workshop at Amanda Gale Physiotheraphy and Wellbeing about raw chocolate. Everyone had so much fun sampling chocolate! Here are some of the notes I presented.
All chocolate is made from cacao beans (also known as cocoa beans), however there are a lot more health benefits found in the original cacao bean compared to the processed chocolate that is available at various shops and supermarkets these days. I would like to make you aware of how beneficial RAW cacao and chocolate is so that you can enjoy it guilt free at the same time as reaping health benefits.
Healthy chocolate contains no sugar, no dairy and no chemicals, which, when present, all play havoc on our immune system. Refined sugar draws minerals out of the body, causes blood sugar imbalances and disorders, dehydration and is highly addictive. Adding sugar to cacao alters cacao’s original healing properties.
Cacao is the seed of a fruit of a South American jungle tree. Cacao beans were so highly prized by the Mayan and Aztec civilisations that they used them instead of gold as money. The fact that cacao is always in season made this an option.
All the bad things commonly attributed to processed chocolate bars, such as cavities, weight gain and diabetes, are actually caused by the dairy, sugar and other fillers added to cacao powder and cacao butter (the basis of a GOOD chocolate).
Due to the high amount of antioxidants cacao is considered an anti-ageing superfood. It is considered a superfood due to its mineral content and unique properties, however, cooking, refining and processing alter these properties.
The following are found in raw cacao:
• Antioxidants (By weight, cacao has more antioxidants than blueberries, acai, pomegranates and goji berries. Antioxidants protect us from age-related conditions and illnesses. They shield our DNA from free-radical damage).
•Magnesium (Supports the heart, increases brain power, causes strong peristalsis which helps to move waste through the bowel).
• Iron (314% of our recommended daily allowance is found in 28g serving).
•Manganese (Assists iron in the oxygenation of blood and formation of hemaglobin. It is also concentrated in tears).
•Chromium (Helps balance blood sugar levels).
•Zinc (Plays an important role in our immune system, liver, pancreas, sexual fluids and the health of our skin. Zinc becomes more available in our body when we detoxify).
•Copper (antioxidant, regulates iron metabolism & assists cardiovascular health).
•Vitamin C (All cooked and processed chocolate has lost all of its vitamin C).
• Omega 6 (All cooked and processed chocolate contains rancid omega 6’s – trans fat. This can cause an inflammatory reaction in the body).
• Phenylethylamine (PEA) (What we feel when we fall in love. PEA also plays a role in focus and alertness).
• Natural appetite suppressant (Due to magnesium and PEA).
• Anandamide (Naturally produced after exercise – the bliss chemical).
•Tryptophan (Mood enhancing nutrient. Tryptophan is critical for the production of serotonin which helps diminish anxiety and improve our ‘stress-defence shield’. Tryptophan is heat sensitive, therefore eating raw cacao beans is an excellent way of receiving it).
•Serotonin (Outlined above. If serotonin levels are low, all could be well in our world, but we would still feel like hell).
•Fiber (Cacao contains soluble fiber which helps to cleanse our intestines and bulk up our bowel movements).
• Methylxanthines (There is zero to 1/20th the amount of caffeine of conventional coffee found in cacao beans. There is however theobromines which is a close chemical relative of caffeine. It is not a nervous system stimulant however it does dilate our cardiovascular system).
Try making your own…it’s easy! All ingredients are available from health food stores.
RAW CHOCOLATE RECIPE
To save the vitamin C levels and other health benefits of RAW chocolate it is important to keep the temperature below 48 degrees when melting the ingredients.
150g raw cacao powder
300g raw cacao butter
100g agave (a sweetener from a cactus – available at health food stores)
1 pinch sea salt
1 tsp AFA algae or spirulina (optional)
Other optional add ins: zest of orange, peppermint oil (food grade – Oil Garden is a good brand), nuts, chilli, goji berries, etc
Melt cacao butter in double saucepan on low i.e. have boiling water in the bottom saucepan and then another saucepan on top so the steam is what melts it – like you are steaming vegies. Have a thermometer present so the temperature does not exceed 48 degrees. This protects the benefits of the cacao products from being damaged by heat. Once that is melted, stir everything else in then spoon into moulds… easy as that!
There are many other ways to use cacao powder such as in smoothies and raw desserts. Start exploring! I would love to hear how you go with it and whether you would like particular recipes.
Have a great weekend!