Cacao, cocoa, unprocessed dutch cacao – what the what? People are so often so confused about what’s the difference, why should I care or be bothered with all these different options, hey and aren’t they just one and the same?
Short answer – No! Let me explain why.
Raw cacao comes from the cacao bean just like cocoa the only difference is one is heavily processed and cooked above 40degrees C. This heating kills a lot of the powerful nutrients and antioxidants inside thus making raw cacao a SUPERFOOD and cocoa a meh-conventional baking ingredient.
The good raw stuff is full of magnesium as well as a bucket load of other minerals like calcium, zinc, iron and potassium plus a heap of antioxidants. It actually contains more antioxidants per gran than red wine and blueberries. Why should you care about eating antioxidant rich foods? Well these guys kapow nasty free radicals in the face, preventing cell and tissue damage.
Before we all go crazy and start chowing down on raw cacao chocolate bars please be mindful of a couple of things. Lots of raw cacao chocolates, snacks and recipes contain a lot of sugar and as per my previous posts. Sugar is not our friend people. Need I remind you again? So when purchasing raw chocolatey goods always read the label. And please buy good quality organic fair trade cacao powder – I like this one. Otherwise you are defeating the purpose of eating all these lovely antioxidants when you are munching on a nice mixture of pesticides as well. Mmmm… delish! Speaking of eating pesticides with your antioxidants. If you are an avid consumer of frozen berries – might be worth checking out this post about where a lot of our supermarket berries come from.
To add to the confusion of whether to cacao or cocoa – there are a couple of different forms of cacao as well. You can buy it in the a powder form or in nibs which are just crushed cacao seeds as opposed to ground and add a fabulous crunch to raw nut balls, gluten free cereals or granola or trail mix.
I know you are all thinking – well what is the point of me buying raw cacao if I am going to bake with it anyway Lady Homemade? Obviously if you are going to kill of some of the antioxidants but at least you are cooking with a minimally processed, fair trade and organic product as opposed to some Cadburys supermarket crap. And don’t limit yourself to the world of only using cacao in baking think of ways to get it into your diet in the raw form!
Here are some of my favourite raw cacao tips and tricks of the trade:
- Making raw Cacao, Coconut and Tahini bark – 3 tbls coconut oil, 1 tbls butter, 2 tbls cacao, 2 tbls tahini, dash of vanilla – melted and mixed together. Add sprinkle of shredded coconut and cacao nibs. Delish!
- Add it to your morning smoothie – blueberries, yoghurt, cacao, raw milk and coconut oil is a antioxidant and probiotic rich way to start your day
- Make these raw cacao nut balls
- Sprinkle it on your yoghurt – I love the combo of melted coconut oil stirred through natural full fat yoghurt with cacao. The coconut oil goes hard and changes the texture – sometimes I also add berries, shredded coconut and sometimes also tahini (shut up – I know I have a problem I love the stuff)
- I also add it to savory dishes – killing all those little antioxidant friends but trust me cacao in your chilli is the business. I love it in this recipe
Go forth my friends and add some cacao to your diet. It’s chocolatey AND good for you