SUPERFOOD SUNDAY: CACAO AND A HEALTHY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE RECIPE
There is something about chocolate; there is something in chocolate; there is something we know about chocolate that is beyond touch, taste, and tantalizing sensation. The essence of chocolate is truly indescribable, ineffable, inexpressible.’
Cacao is chocolate. All chocolate is made from cacao beans (also known as coca beans). Cacao is the seed (nut) of a fruit of an indigenous central and South American jungle tree. So when we take chocolate back to its purest state; that is, without any added sugar, dairy or chemicals – we are left with cacao. All of the antioxidant value, mineral benefits and overall-health giving qualities are found in the original cacao bean.
David Wolfe – one of the world’s leading authorities (and my personal favourite) on nutrition and all things ‘superfoods’ – believes that cacao is one of the greatest superfoods EVER because of its natural healing and beautifying power! Every study on chocolate points to the same conclusion: there is something in chocolate that is really good for us! So naturally, it makes sense why chocolate is such a big part of our lives… those cravings for ‘chocolate’ that I’m sure we have all experienced at some point is really a craving for the amazing qualities in the cacao bean (and not the artificial/processed types of chocolate that invade our supermarket shelves).
David (“Avocado Noni Cacao”) Wolfe – I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to hear him speak live. Such an entertaining and captivating speaker!
Fun fact: According to David Wolfe, cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them instead of gold as money!
Cacao is one of the best natural food sources of the following nutrients:
- Antioxidants: cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world – more than acai, blueberries, pomegranates, goji berries and red wine combined (by weight). These antioxidants include polyphenols, catechins, and epicatechins. Antioxidants are so important to protect our DNA from free-radical damage and toxins.
- Magnesium: one of the great alkaline minerals, magnesium supports the heart, increases brainpower, relaxes muscles, and increases alkalinity. When the body has enough magnesium, veins and arteries relax and this improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
- Iron: per serving (1 Tbsp), cacao contains about 20% RDI of iron. Iron is a critical mineral in nutrition. Iron is part of the oxygen carrying protein called hemoglobin that keeps our blood healthy. Particularly for people with Crohn’s and Colitis – it is so important to make sure you have enough iron in your diet. I have a history of anaemia, and so this is something that I consciously focus on. You could imagine my excitement and surprise when I realised how much iron is in cacao!
- Chromium: Chromium is an important trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar. Because cacao contains no sugar, it’s not going to send your sugar levels through the roof – unlike packaged chocolate that has added ingredients (commonly, sugar).
- Zinc: another essential trace mineral which plays a critical role in the immune system, liver, pancreas. Many people with Crohn’, Colitis and “leaky gut” have depleted zinc reserves due to prolonged history of illness and blood loss. I actually take 1 zinc capsule every night to restore my zinc levels.
- Vitamin C: cacao contains about 20% of our RDI of vitamin C – but you must eat it in its raw state (not cooked) to get the benefit of vitamin C. Ascorbic acid promotes the healing of wounds through its role in collagen synthesis. Ascorbic acid also serves to support the immune system in fighting off infections.
- Seratonin: cacao is rich in tryptamine serotonin – the primary neurotransmitter in the human body. This vitamin helps us build up our “stress-defence shield” – which is why when we eat chocolate, we immediately feel good!!
What form can you buy cacao?
There is a revolution happening at the moment in the world of chocolate. It’s no longer about Cadbury and Lindt – but increasingly about where can I buy organic cacao? As a result, more and more places are stocking all different varieties of cacao – so your local health food store should have most of the following:
- Cacao powder – I like to buy a brand called Cacao Gold
- Cacao beans with or without skins (note: I prefer without skin as I find it really difficult to peel the skin off!)
- Cacao nibs – so yummy to sprinkle on your desserts or mix through smoothies
- Cacao butter – great to use in raw desserts as it hardens at room temperature
- Cacao paste – so yummy to blend through smoothies, use in desserts or spread on some gluten-free toast
How to use Cacao Products:
- Blend your favourite cacao products through smoothies. One of my favourites is a blend of almond milk, banana, dates, cacao and cinnamon – such a simple yet deliciously decadent sweet treat!
- Sprinkle cacao beans/nibs on your favourite dessert.
- Bake in your muffins, cakes or pancakes to replace chocolate chips. By the way, these are the original chocolate chip!
- Eat raw cacao beans by themselves, or in a trail-mix with goji berries, hempseeds or almonds. At first you will notice they are bitter in taste – but you will become use to them after a while.
Healthy Chocolate Mousse (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free)
This is one of my favourite desserts to make for guests at a dinner party because it only takes 5 minutes to make, contains so many healthy ingredients and will leave your guests feeling extremely satisfied (and happy – remember the serotonin factor)! A totally guilt-free pudding! How amazing is that?!
The ingredients probably look a little weird at first, but I promise you they blend so well together into a deliciously creamy, chocolaty caramel-esq combination… you will be left wanting more! Play a guessing game with your guests to… chances are they won’t be able to pick the ingredients!
- 1 large ripe avocado (or 2 medium)
- 1 ripe banana
- 5 medjool dates, pitted
- 3 Tbs cacao
- 2 Tbs honey
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Berries and cacao nibs (for topping)
Simply put all ingredients into a mini blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Top with berries and cacao nibs.
Keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy!
TIP: you can replace the banana with ½ cup mashed cooked sweet potato – the texture stays really creamy and it’s not as sweet as banana.
The perfect dessert for a dinner party! Enjoy 🙂