If you’re like me, you possibly jumped for joy when you heard that chocolate is good for you! It’s true that the cacao bean (from which chocolate is made) is full of antioxidants and minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and selenium. However, not all chocolate is created equal!
To make chocolate, the cocoa bean is roasted and ground to make cocoa liquor or cocoa mass which has a fat content of about 50%. This is then further processed to squeeze out the fat and forms cocoa butter with the remainder becoming cocoa powder. Milk chocolate has milk and sugar added to a blend of cocoa powder and cocoa butter, but has less cocoa content than dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has 2 to 3 times more cocoa than milk chocolate and typically has less sugar added and less or no milk solids. The cocoa content of dark chocolate can range from 30% up to around 85%.
The processing of chocolate destroys a significant amount of the antioxidants and minerals but minimally processed chocolate with at least 70-85% cocoa will still contain good amounts. It is dark chocolate with high amounts of cocoa that has been shown to have health benefits such as lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, better cholesterol profile and improved insulin sensitivity.
So dark chocolate in small amounts can be healthy for you! Go for quality not quantity!
If you love that chocolate taste but want to maximise the nutritional and health benefits of the cacao bean, I encourage you to start using raw organic cacao in your home cooking.
Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans which has less impact on the nutrients and therefore raw cacao has significantly greater quantities of antioxidants and minerals than cocoa powder. You can add raw cacao to make a delicious hot chocolate, use it where you would otherwise use cocoa powder in recipes and make some delicious snacks like these Raw Cacao Bliss Balls.
Hope you like them and have a wonderful and safe Easter!
Raw Cacao Bliss Balls
1 cup raw almonds
¼ cup raw walnuts or ¼ cup sunflower seeds
6 Medjool dates
2 tbsp raw organic cacao powder
1 tbsp raw organic cacao nibs
2 tsp maple syrup or coconut nectar
2 tbs coconut oil or tahini or peanut butter
¼ tsp sea salt
1 – Place nuts/seeds in food processor and blend until small and coarse flour like consistency.
2 – Add dates (be sure to remove the pits first) and process until the mixture sticks together and the dates are well processed.
3 – Add remainder of ingredients and process again until the mixture comes together in a thick paste like consistency.
4 – Use your hands to roll into bite-sized balls. You can coat in desiccated coconut or leave as is. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then enjoy!