The Healing Powers of Cacao
Sunday, January 29, 2017
If when you think of chocolate you think of Reese's, skin breakouts, and gaining weight, you're probably exposing yourself to the wrong kind. Raw cacao is what you need! It's been considered a medicinal and alchemistic food for thousands of years, and has endless health and beauty benefits.
Health benefits & history:
Unrefined, unprocessed cacao is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that prevent aging, steady your nerves, boost brain function, and elevate your mood. It has loads of calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and is the highest plant-based source of iron per serving. It shrinks your appetite, due to it's high level of MAO inhibitors. Also, because it's packed with serotonin and endorphins, it mellows out mood swings and restores feelings of bliss and joy.
Chocolate consumption has knowingly dated back 3,500 years to ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Typically, only males, elites, and royals were allowed access to the ingredient. The Florentine Codex (1590 AD), a Spanish medicinal text observing Aztec ritual uses of cacao, stated that chocolate would lessen agitation, improve energy, and have an overall calming effect. The Spanish later brought cacao to Europe where it was experimented with as a solid food and celebrated as a dessert, much like today.
Why you may have thought chocolate is bad:
Many people have the idea that chocolate is a junk food, and in many cases it is! The wrong kind of chocolate is cooked and diluted, paired with cow's milk, processed sugars, and retains hardly any of the original benefits of pure cacao. These kinds of chocolate (think Hershey's, Swiss Miss, etc.) promote acne and weight gain not because of the cacao itself, but because of the highly processed ingredients added to it. Don't expect to reap the benefits of the original raw, unprocessed food from any such products.
How to incorporate cacao into your life:
There are so many ways to use cacao. I have it about twice a day, in one form or another. Because I find it so energizing and awakening, I'll usually make a hot chocolate in the morning out of almond milk, cacao, agave, and maca powder. Throughout the day, I'll eat a square or two of 70%+ organic dark chocolate... I'll sprinkle cacao nibs on my coconut yogurt... I'll add it to smoothies. On it's own, cacao has a bitter taste, kind of like coffee. If you add it on things with a little agave or maple syrup, it's really delicious.
Energizing Hot Cacao:
This is what I make myself 1-2 times a day. I almost always have it in the morning, as a healthy coffee alternative. The maca powder has a ton of antioxidants and is known to boost endurance and stamina. It's very delicious and has a malty, creamy taste. Now remember, this isn't going to taste like a Starbucks sugar packed hot chocolate - it's more of an immunity "elixir".
1/4 C. coconut or almond milk
1 C. boiling water
2 tsp. maca
2 heaping tsp. raw cacao powder
1 tsp. (or more to taste) agave or maple syrup
shake of cinnamon
dash of sea salt
Stir dry ingredients into water and milk until smooth & lumps are gone. You can play around with the milk to water ratio, or even just heat up 1 1/4 cups of milk instead of using any water, if you prefer your hot cacao to be creamier. Enjoy!