Now I don’t know about you, but there are certain times of the month when I just can not resist eating chocolate and when I stopped drinking alcohol I nobbled a few family size bars of fruit and nut a week! Talk about replacing one ‘treat’ with another lol!
I used to feel a little guilty about this ill-conceived chocolate habit (thanks patriarchy and diet culture) but after looking into the health benefits of cacao I now indulge in the drink instead of sugar-laden Cadburys when I get that need for a chocolate hit.
I used to feel a little guilty about this ill-conceived chocolate habit
The Incas considered cacao the drink of gods, which gave birth to the scientific name of the tree Theobroma cacao, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink). Chocolate is made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree aka cacao beans. This plant produces large, pod-like fruits, each containing 20–60 beans surrounded by a sticky, sweet-tart white pulp. These are then processed by fermentation (to develop the chocolate flavour), drying, roasting (unless you are eating raw cacao), crushing (how to get the cacao nobs) and grinding (how to get cacao or cocoa powder).
Usually, when we chat about cacao the first question is what’s the difference between cacao and cocoa? The main difference is how it is prepared and processed. Cacao tends to be less processed than cocoa which means it keeps more of the minerals and amino acids bringing more health benefits than your standard cup of Bournville.
So let’s get to the 5 reasons I recommend drinking cacao!
Tastes amazing: I love a really rich, deep chocolatey hit and nothing is quite like the hit you get from raw cacao. You can play around with your recipe but I love to add a little cinnamon & agave syrup for sweetness and some chilli and cayenne pepper for fire.
Improve your mood: Cacao is an excellent source of several minerals, including selenium, magnesium, chromium and manganese, alongside anandamide (I had no idea what this was either… it’s known as the bliss molecule!) but these often aren’t shown on nutrition labels. Magnesium has been shown in studies to improve the symptoms of depression in just two weeks and the bliss molecule creates a feeling of euphoria, so let’s boost our mood.
Vanity…Yes, I know it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but we all wanna look good, don’t we? Cacao includes antioxidants like those in green tea and red wine that protest our cells from premature oxidation and flavonols which have been shown to improve microcirculation, increased oxygen saturation, and improved skin hydration according to a report from the Journal of nutrition in 2006. It’s also a great source of sulphur which supports your liver and improves your ability to build collagen and keratin needed for strong nails and shiny hair. I’m here for this all day!
Boost your brain function: In a Harvard study, Dr. Gary Small showed that drinking two cups a day helped to improve middle-aged people (I guess that’s me then Dr. Gazza) memory and increased blood flow to the brain. Now, where did I put my keys? :-)
Energy and Iron boost: Tired of being tired? How are your iron levels? Comparative to the levels of iron in beef and lamb cacao has the highest plant-based iron source going. Mix with orange to get vitamin c at the same time for full absorption of the iron. Now that’s something I can get behind a healthy chocolate orange!
So why not give it a go, enjoy the taste and the health benefits. Curl up with a good book and a cup of cacao this autumn.
If you've never made it before, I have included my cacao recipe for you below and I’d love to hear what you put in your favourite cacao recipes. Why not let me know Clear Community facebook group.
If you’d like to dive in to use cacao in a ritual, why not join us on Friday for the New Moon in Libra cacao, gong meditation.
Ingredients: (for 2-3 servings)
70g chopped cacao (about 7tbsps)
1/2 tsp cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
pinch of cayenne
pinch of sea salt
750ml hot water (not boiling) or oat milk
If you want to sweeten you can use coconut sugar, agave or raw honey.
Whisk or blender
You want to finely chop or grate your cacao block (be careful with this I have slipped a few times and narrowly missed cutting off a finger :-) )
Once you have the cacao chopped, combine in a pot on the stove. As you mix/ whisk the cacao you can begin to set your intention into the drink. I chant and use reiki symbols when making mine but you can do whatever feels right for you.
You can get creative with what you add to your drink, I often add other spices like cardamom pods, chilli, turmeric or nutmeg.
Always keep on low heat and NEVER let the cacao come to a boil as this changes its molecular structure and the way our bodies are able to absorb its nutrients. Try unsweetened for a deeper, potent dose. Cacao’s bitter medicine is good for us!
Once the drink is warm and the cacao is melted you can mix in a blender for a blissfully thick, frothy cup, or just pour into a cup and drink.
Why not let me know what you thought of this recipe in Clear Community facebook group.