I have a love affair with chocolate, but I am not talking about the neatly wrapped, company name stamped, processed kind with sugar, dairy and added chemicals that has turned one of the worlds most dense superfoods into a high calorie sugar snack devoid of any real nutritional value. I am talking about the real deal.
The kind that gives you energy, helps balance your blood sugar, suppresses your appetite and can help you lose weight. The kind that can help prevent the mineral deficiency that can lead to heart disease. The kind that contains the love molecule that makes you feel happier and helps increase focus and alertness. The kind that is the only food on this planet that contains the same endorphin our body naturally produces after exercise. I am talking about the dark dark raw unprocessed kind called Cacao, known as the “food of the Gods”.
Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them instead of gold as money. Cortez was probably the first to bring chocolate to Europe around 1528. He wrote this about cacao, “The divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food”.
I don’t think anyone could honestly say that today about a cup of hot chocolate. You know how I said raw and unprocessed, well that is the key to the real deal. All chocolate is made from cacao beans, but once it is processed and cooked a lot of the stuff that makes chocolate a “superfood” has been destroyed.
There is so much to know and love about real chocolate.
Anti-oxidants Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. By weight, cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries combined. Antioxidants protect us from age-related health conditions and illnesses and they slow the aging process way down.
Magnesium Cacao is the number one source of magnesium. Did you know that 80 percent of North Americans are chronically deficient in magnesium. One ounce of raw cacao has enough magnesium to reverse deficiencies. According to researchers reporting in the December 2009 issue of the “Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners,” the Western diet does not contain enough magnesium to provide protection from cardiovascular disease. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, magnesium is essential to hearth health and deficiency is associated with heart disease.
PEA The Love Molecule One of the biggest reason we probably love chocolate is because it contains Phenylethylamine (PEA), the chemical we produce in our bodies when we fall in love. PEAs also play a role in increasing focus and alertness.
Anandamide, the bliss chemical. The human body naturally produces the endorphin Anadamide after excercising. Anandamide has only been found in one plant…you guessed it Cacao. Anandamide is known as the “bliss chemical” because it is released while we are feeling great.
Tryptophan Cacao contains significant quantities of tryptophan, a powerful mood-enhancing nutrient which is critical for the production of serotonin. Tryptophan is damaged or destroyed during cooking and because most Americans eat mostly cooked foods, it may be the reason why depression is on the rise.
Serotonin Cacao is rich in Serotonin. I love how David Wolfe puts it…”if serotonin levels are high, the world could be collapsing and we would still feel good, but if they are low, all could be well, but we would still feel like hell.”
Weight Loss Weight Loss Data from the University of California, San Diego shows that people who consume chocolate on a regular basis have a lower body mass index. David Wolfe, raw food guru credited with bringing many superfoods to America, says that “raw cacao beans have always been and will always be nature’s number-one weight loss and high-energy food, because within it’s extraordinary nutrition profile it contains a significant amount of magnesium and PEA molecules that shut off appetite.”
Fiber Cacao contains an extraordinary type of soluble fiber that helps cleanse the intestines and bulk up the bowel.
Raw Cacao is also rich in Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin C, Omega-6 fatty Acids, Iron, and Chromium which balances blood sugar
Also contrary to popular beliefs Cacao does not contain a lot of caffeine. It has less than 1/20th of the caffeine in conventional coffee.
I always have raw organic unprocessed cacao powder and nibs in my pantry. (Nibs are the crushed cacao beans, the worlds first chocolate chips, they are hard and crunchy and unsweetened) You can buy them at Whole Foods, but you get a much better price when you order from www.mountainroseherbs.com
You can get raw cacao bars at Whole foods, but beware they are pricy. Another option is to buy chocolate bars with 70% or more chocolate or cacao. They will not break the bank and are available at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
Here is my morning Super Duper Cacao shake I make for my kids.
In a blender add:
- 2 Cups of Raw Grassfed milk or you can substitute almond or rice milk
- 2 raw organic pasture raised eggs (do NOT add raw eggs if you can not get super fresh organic pasture raised eggs)
- 3 Tablespoons of raw organic Cacao powder
- 2 teaspoons of raw organic freeze dried Acai Powder
- ½ teaspoon of raw cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons of Natural Choice Products Nutritional Essentials Vanilla Powder www.naturalchoiceproducts.net (or you add your favorite protein powder)
- 1 tablespoon of raw local honey.
Blend well, serve immediately or it will separate
Serves 3 – 4
This is a great way to start the day… you have protein, and 2 superfoods, Cacao and Acai.
I also like to make my own homemade chocolate/cacao ice cream. My kids are going to eat ice cream no matter what, so why not make sure they are getting some nutritional value in the ice cream.
Decadent Chocolate Ice-Cream
- 1 ½ cups organic grass fed whole milk
- 1 1/3 cups organic grass fed cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 2 large organic pasture raised eggs
- ½ cacao nibs (optional, but delicious)
Pour all ingredients into a blender, then pour into your ice-cream maker. I use a $30 cuisinart ice-cream maker I got from Costco. Turn it on and in 20 minutes you will have the most decadent and delicious chocolate ice-cream you have ever put in your mouth.
When it comes to chocolate I say only the real deal will do. Once you taste the richness and feel the benefits you will understand why.
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Information taken from Superfoods by David Wolfe.