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Cacao :: Herb of the Month

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:00pm

Cacao Nibs and Powder

Theobroma cacao

Raw unprocessed cacao is pure bliss and chocolate perfection. It’s a super food, it’s delicious, and you don’t have to feel guilty about eating it, not one bit, because it is good for you.

When I mention cacao to those who aren’t familiar with it, I often hear “What is Cacao?” or “You mean Cocoa?”. Did you know that the word cocoa is a British term? It is said that the British found it difficult to pronounce the word cacao, so they turned it around phonetically to suit their language. So what is cacao?

What Is Cacao?

Plain and simple, it’s pure natural raw chocolate. It is the fruit that grows from an evergreen herb tree native to Mexico and was so valuable the Aztecs used it as their currency.

The fruit of the cacao tree, referred to as the fruit of the Gods, is also known as the cacao pod. Within the pod is where you will find the seeds which are referred to as cacao beans, and from this bean comes cacao nibs [which are crushed whole beans with the husks removed]. Cacao powder is the ground nibs, and cacao butter is the fat extracted from the seeds [which contains up to 40 percent fat] of the cacao pod.

From bitter to sweet

Cacao is dark chocolate that is naturally bitter in taste. The whole bean or nibs can be eaten as is, if you like bitter chocolate. For those of us who prefer our chocolate less bitter adding agave or xylitol, for example, makes it a whole lot sweeter.

Nutritional Profile + Benefits of a Superfood

Cacao is a very potent little bean full of nutritional compounds to keep you healthy and happy. It is one of the richest sources of anti-oxidants, jam packed with minerals, like iron, magnesium, and zinc. Cacao butter is wonderful. It provides essential fatty acids and is a good fat that won’t raise cholesterol levels like other fats.

On the happiness scale, cacao contains mood-elevating serotonin, which helps put our brain in an active state of happy bliss. If you haven’t tried raw chocolate, you are in for a real treat.

Purchase + Storing

As with all other food purchases, look for the highest in quality cacao you can find, like certified organic, wild-crafted and fair trade certified, that is unroasted and unsweetened.

Store cacao nibs, powder, and butter in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. It also stores well refrigerated.

Suggested Uses

Use cacao to make truffles, tortes, chocolate dipped fruits, cookies, cakes, brownies, drizzle on to of raw ice cream, and desserts of all kinds. Add it to your favorite smoothies, make chocolate drinks of all sorts, and sprinkle it on drinks or your favorite recipe.

The Giveaway

At the end of this month, one of your names will be drawn from the comment section of this post, and our wonderful sponsor Mountain Rose Herbs will send a gift of cacao products to the winning participant. Thank you, good luck, and have fun experimenting with the flavor of cacao!

Raw Chocolate Sauce

This recipe is a simple way to make a yummy silky smooth chocolate sauce, perfect as chocolate fondue, or drizzles over raw ice cream or fresh fruit.

Chocolate Sauce

Make this sauce ahead; keep refrigerated up to two weeks.

1/2 cup cacao nibs powder
1/2 cup agave, or sweetener of choice [adjust amount as needed]
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.

Makes 3/4 cups

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