Written By Gracie
Cacao NOT cocoa. They sound very similar but cacao is the raw and purest form of chocolate whereas cocoa goes through a different process (which involves lots of heat) making it less powerful than cacao (but still good for you if you get the plain/dark cocoa).
Cacao comes in many different forms; you can get cacao powder, cacao butter, cacao nibs and cacao paste. All very different in texture, taste and uses but all from the same cacao pod. The pod is cracked open to release the cacao beans, which are then processed (in a very gentle way to preserve the goodness) to create the variation that cacao comes in.
(Picture above: Cacao Nibs)
Although there are many variations of cacao, all have similar health properties. It’s most famous for being an amazing source of antioxidants; cacao has the highest amount of antioxidants, higher than all other natural foods. The best thing about cacao is that all its nutrients and goodness remain intact while it undergoes its process, making it a guilt-free, healthy alternative.
(Picture above: Cacao butter)
Squirrel sister Sophie was lucky enough to go to Bali recently and went trekking in Ubud where she found some cacao pods in their natural environment. We sometimes don’t realise where our food is coming from so it’s nice to see what a cacao pod is and how it grows before it gets made into powder, butter, nibs, paste and of course the highly processed chocolate we find in all the shops. The picture she took below is a red cacao plant, which makes the highest quality chocolate.
Here are some of the amazing heath benefits of cacao:
– Amazing source of antioxidants, which prevents ageing of the body and diseases
– Amazing source of magnesium, which enhances energy
– Amazing source of monounsaturated fats
– Full of vitamins and minerals
– Promotes healthy hair, skin and nails
– Aides weight-loss (by curbing appetite)
– High in fibre
– High in protein
– Lowers cholesterol
– Lowers blood pressure
– Boosts the immune system
– Promotes a healthy heart
– Acts as a mood enhancer
– An aphrodisiac
Cacao butter is made from the outer lining of the cacao bean and the rest of bean is used to make the powder. The nibs are made from chopping up the bean into little pieces and the paste is made from melting cacao nibs on a very low heat and very slowly.
(Picture above: Left- cacao powder. Right- cacao butter)
How To Use Cacao:
I love making healthy brownies and raw truffles with the cacao powder and butter. The cacao butter is amazing for truffles as it helps set them.
I add cacao nibs to smoothies and porridge.
I haven’t really had the chance to use cacao paste but hear it’s great for vegan brownies.