HEALTH BENEFITS OF CACAO & RAW CHOCOLATE GALAXY BARK
With Easter just around the corner, what better excuse to enjoy the wonderful health benefits of chocolate. Yes, that’s right, chocolate can be good for you! But not all chocolate is created equal, I’m taking about chocolate in its purest form, as raw organic cacao, which is where all the health benefits lie.
The Latin name for cacao is theobroma cacao which literally translates to 'food of the gods'. Nowadays the term cacao has come to be known as the raw and unheated beans. In ancient Mayan civilisations cacao was considered sacred and highly-prized for its health-giving qualities. Shamans of the time would also use cacao in their rituals, as it was understood to be a tuning mechanism, opening the psychic being and connecting the mind with the cosmos.
Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. This process keeps the enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter). Cocoa looks the same as cacao, but it’s not. Cocoa - used in most conventional chocolate - has been chemically processed and roasted and contains very little cacao with 60-90% of the original antioxidants lost through this processing. Conventional chocolate is also loaded of sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, thickeners, colours, flavours and preservatives. Non-organic cocoa (and non-organic chocolate) has also been treated heavily with toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals and may contain genetically modified (GMO) products.
Cacao contains over 300 identifiable chemical compounds, making it one of the most complex foods known to man. Today, scientific research confirms that high-quality, raw and organic cacao has many favorable qualities that support our health and wellbeing.
Health benefits of cacao -
- One of the highest plant-based sources of magnesium to support healthy heart and brain function
- Rich in antioxidants (40 times more antioxidants than blueberries) to reduce cell and tissue damage caused by free radicals
- Highest plant-based (non-heme) source of iron at 7.3mg per 100g – just be sure to combine it with some vitamin C-rich foods to increase its availability
- Contains more calcium than cow’s milk at 160mg per 100g compared to 125mg per 100ml of milk
- Acts as a natural mood-elevator and anti-depressant because it contains serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine which are our mood-elevating neurotransmitters
- Contains flavanols that lowers insulin resistance and reduces blood pressure
- A good source of minerals: potassium, zinc, copper and manganese
Try making your own chocolate this Easter with this recipe for Raw Chocolate Galaxy Bark from our resident nutritionist, Lucy Stewart. Resembling the ancient heavens the Mayan’s were trying to connect with, this raw dark chocolate is naturally sweetened with mesquite and maple syrup and studded with bee pollen, dried wild blueberries, hemp seeds and cacao nibs. Not only does it taste divine, it makes you feel like a goddess too!
RAW CHOCOLATE GALAXY BARK
By Lucy Stewart
- 100g raw organic fairtrade cacao powder
- 50ml organic raw coconut oil
- 150g organic cacao butter
- 75ml organic maple syrup
- 1 tsp mesquite powder
- 70g preservative-free dried wild blueberries (or goji berries)
- 30g cacao nibs
- 1 Tbsp bee pollen
- 2 Tbsp organic hemp seeds
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- In a double boiler (or a heatproof glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water), melt the coconut oil and cacao butter together
- Add the maple syrup and mesquite and whisk to combine
- When the mixture is completely combined, remove it from the heat and sift in the cacao powder and sea salt, then whisk to combine
- Taste for sweetness and saltiness and adjust accordingly
- On a baking sheet lined with baking paper, scatter half of the blueberries, cacao nibs, bee pollen and hemp seeds
- Wait until the liquid chocolate has cooled slightly, so it’s a littler thicker
- Pour the chocolate over the top, covering your mix in an even layer
- Sprinkle over the remaining blueberries, cacao nibs, bee pollen and hemp seeds
- Place the baking sheet in the fridge or freezer and chill until the chocolate has firmed up completely (at least 1 hour in the fridge or 30 minutes in the freezer)
- Break the chocolate in to bars or shards. Store any leftovers in the freezer for up to 2 months