It seems like a paradox, I know. Chocolate, healthy? Everything we have been taught about health and nutrition seems to be challenged with this statement.
But keep reading and you will find that chocolate can be one the healthiest and yummiest things you can eat.
First of all, I am not talking about your regular Hershey’s bar. I know all too well what happens when I eat regular chocolate like this. My heart races, I get a headache, and I might be grouchy and irritable. Basically, not worth it, especially since Hershey’s is a far cry from what I consider truly delicious chocolate.
What I am talking about is raw, pure, unprocessed cacao, or raw chocolate. In its natural, unadulterated form, “it is the highest antioxidant food on the planet, higher than any other fruit or vegetable.” Because it is so high in antioxidants, it naturally combats the free-radicals in our bodies which cause illness and disease. The following is a brief list of conditions raw cacao can help with:
- heart disease or edema
- asthma – decreases frequency and severity of attacks
- cough/lung problems (in a study it was 1/3 more effective than codeine syrup!)
- weight loss – by decreasing sugar/dessert cravings and satisfying the appetite
- vision/ocular/eye health (high antioxidants improve eye health overall)
- gum disease – extremely beneficial for oral hygiene
- seasonal allergies
- lowers blood sugar levels
- lowers blood pressure
- lowers “bad” cholesterol
As you can see, this is why chocolate can actually keep you healthier this holiday season!
However, as you know, most chocolate has been heated in order to turn the cacao bean into chocolate. Unfortunately, heating the cacao destroys many of the antioxidants, flavonoids and phyto-nutrients in the cocoa bean.
Also, most chocolate has added refined sugar, caffeine, fillers, waxes, and other ingredients that make this healthy food very unhealthy for you. Fortunately, you can buy raw cacao in different forms such as powder and nibs. However, it is very bitter and still needs to be sweetened in some way in order to make it palpable.
I personally love making my own chocolate and chocolate treats using the raw cacao powder. I find it very versatile and easy to work with. It has a strong, bitter flavor but is delicious when added to agave nectar, dates, maple syrup or another unrefined sugar.
A friend of mine, Sarah Nance Pettit, gave me a recipe for making raw chocolate and it is very delicious and simple to make.
2 cups raw cacao powder
1 cup coconut oil or cocoa butter
1-2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp. agave nectar
chopped almonds, walnuts, raisins, or anything else you’d like to add
- Heat oil slowly over low-medium heat in a saucepan. Mix in the agave and vanilla. Then mix in the cacao powder. Make sure it never boils or gets above medium heat (or 110 F).
- Pour mixture into a pan and put it in the freezer or refrigerator to harden.
I also found the following recipe on www.eatsprouts.com which I converted to using raw cacao. Although it is not your ordinary chocolate cake, it is delicious and very healthy! You can top it with fresh raspberries, a raspberry-strawberry sauce or anything else that inspires you!
1 1/2 cups walnuts, unsoaked
dash of salt
12 medjool dates, or 16 deglet dates, unsoaked
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tsp water
2 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 cup raspberries to garnish (optional)
- Blend walnuts and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add the dates, cacao powder and vanilla. Process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the water and sweetener and process briefly.
- Transfer to a serving plate and form mixture into a 5-inch round cake. Chill for at least 1 hour. Decorate with fresh raspberries or make a raspberry fruit sauce before serving, if desired.
- Cover with plastic and keep in the refrigerator. Will keep for three days or two weeks in the freezer.
Of course if you don’t have time to make your own, there are companies now making raw chocolate that is free of refined sugar, caffeine, fillers, waxes, and dairy.
I am most impressed by Gnosis chocolate, because it is raw, organic and is all hand-made by the owner, Vanessa. “She mixes every recipe, pours every mold, and decorates every bar by hand.” I find this very impressive! She also makes her chocolate free of soy lecithin, dairy, refined sugar (she uses agave) and gluten free, which is important for people who are allergic to these products.
Vanessa is also very passionate about supporting local, organic farmers as much as possible with the production of her chocolate. She understands that organic foods are much healthier for you and she also knows that organic farmers work very hard to farm organically.
Another company that is making raw chocolate is MXI corp and their chocolate is called Xocai. They mix it with acai berries which are also high in antioxidants. I have personally tasted it and it is very delicious. It is free of refined sugar, caffeine, fillers, waxes, and dairy. They do use raw cane sugar, however but it is safe for diabetics to eat.
There are other brands of raw chocolate being created. If you want to find out more about other companies, you might find the chocolate reviews helpful on this website.
Also, if you would like more information on the health benefits of chocolate, you can check out Dr. Chocolate.
I hope you have found this post interesting and helpful! If you have anything to add about raw chocolate, I’d love to hear from you! Enjoy the recipes!