Eating Healthier ~ Cacao Powder
I think I first heard about cacao powder from one of Melissa Costello’s recipes, but actually ordered it and started using it after I bought Superfood Cuisine by Julie Morris. I had the pleasure of meeting Julie while on a trip with my husband to Washington DC where we stopped in the Whole Foods Market to pick up some dinner. She happened to be doing a demonstration there and I of course had to sample everything and ask lots of questions :). As I was asking all my questions, I realized that there was a book next to her cart, Superfood Cuisine, and that SHE was the author.
Her book is full of great information and wonderful recipes. Her book will be released this fall as Superfood Kitchen. You can order her book by clicking here .
Cacao Powder – A Superfood
A food is considered a superfood based on its nutrient content. All the superfoods she lists are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, many of which you’ll find in my daily superfood shake. You can’t beat chocolate for breakfast! Cacao powder is just one of the superfoods listed in her book and one of many superfoods that you can find in chocolate vegan shakeology that Pete(my husband) and I drink everyday.
Cacao was a prized food of the Mayans and Aztecs. Cacao trees produce these big colorful pods that are filled with large seeds, cacao beans, from which chocolate is made. If you break the bean, it comes apart into little cacao nibs. From this cacao powder, cacao butter, and cacao paste can be made. There are many benefits from cacao powder.
Cacao Powder – The Benefits
1. Cacao powder has more antioxidants than blueberries – helps dilate blood vessels, reduce blood clotting and improve circulation. It also helps lower LDL cholesterol, and lower the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
2. Cacao powder is rich in magnesium, which helps relax muscles and reduce cramping. It also helps balance brain chemistry, and regulate blood pressure.
3. Cacao powder contains high quantities of iron, zinc and calcium.
4. Cacao powder has phytochemicals, which means plant chemicals, and amino acids that help elevate your mood. It raises the level of serotonin and stimulates the secretion of endorphins. These help mood and sense of well-being.
There are many articles about cacao powder and cocoa powder. It seems that cacao refers to the cacao pod or bean, in other words the natural state before so much processing. In order to make cacao powder, the cacao beans are extracted from the pod then ground into a powder.
Raw cacao powder is minimally processed at low temperatures while cocoa powder is processed at high temperatures, which destroys the nutrients and thus the health benefits.
Julie has several recipes in her cookbook that use cacao powder, but this is the easiest one around.
Here is a video of her recipe No-Bake Brownies. The recipe is after the videos so you don’t need to take notes.
Here’s the recipe!
1 cup (packed) soft Medjool dates (about 10 or 11) pits removed
1 cup raw walnut pieces
½ cup cacao powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon – ½ cup cacao nibs (use quantity to taste)
Place walnuts in a food processor and grind for a couple seconds to form a coarse flour. While machine is running, add pitted dates, cacao powder and salt, processing until a moist, crumb-like dough has formed. Depending on the natural moisture of the dates, you may need to add a touch of water – a teaspoon at a time – to get the crumbs to “stick” when pinched together.
Spread the crumbs into an 8×8 –inch pan, sprinkle with cacao nibs, and press firmly into a solid brownie layer. Cut into bite-size squares and serve. Alternately, press and roll brownie dough into small balls and make brownie bites.
Variation: Add 1 teaspoon maca powder or maqui berry powder when adding the cacao powder for an additional boost. Hemp seeds, goji berries, or other superfoods can also be sprinkled on top, to taste.
These are a great burst of chocolate delight that will satisfy all your chocolate cravings while at the same time give you some great health benefits.
Also check out my homemade chocolate recipe – just 4 ingredients to delicious!
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Be sure to leave me a comment below and SHARE this with friends who you know would LOVE these!