A BALANCED DIET IS CHOCOLATE IN BOTH HANDS!
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, my taste buds are buzzing for some rich, chocolatey goodness. Anyone else? Who says chocolate can’t be rich and decadent but also wildly healthy?! First off, chocolate (aka cacao) is one of the most powerful superfoods and antioxidants on the plant. That’s a fact! That’s also why we use raw cacao in several of our Blendtopia superfood smoothie kits. It’s a no brainer.
In today’s post I’m diving into the world of chocolate + sharing why and how you should be incorporating cacao into your daily routine to level up your nutritional intake. So many fun tips that you may or may not of thought of so let’s get into it!
The Health Benefits of Cacao Powder
Cacao is pure, raw chocolate. Cacao is know as one of the richest antioxidants on the planet and provides a wealth of vitamins and minerals including high levels of magnesium and iron. It’s a true powerhouse superfood.
The beans from the cacao tree are processed at low temperatures and are considered raw. Once milled into powder, it contains a much higher amount of enzymes, minerals, and nutrients. It tastes more bitter than cocoa powder and offers more nutritional content and is considered 100% natural.
Health Benefits Include:
- ANTIOXIDANTS AND FLAVONOIDS – Cacao is packed with flavonoids which are part of the polyphenol antioxidants family. What is cacao powder flavonoids useful for? Flavonoids benefit the body by looking after your body’s cardiovascular system and may help in reducing your risk of stroke, asthma, cancer and heart disease. For each gram of cacao, you will find 43.6 milligrams of flavonoids. Because cacao is packed with antioxidants, it also may help in reducing the effects of aging, helping you to stay more youthful and vibrant for longer. Antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory effects which can help with reducing inflammation and restore balance to your body.
- MAY ACT AS AN ANTIDEPRESSANT – For those of you who need a little ‘pick me up’ during a blue day, you could try incorporating organic cacao into your diet to help release happy hormones and elevate your mood. Cocoa contains phenylethylamine, which acts as a natural antidepressant to the brain. This is most likely why we find ourselves reaching for a chocolate bar on a down day. Though in saying this, eating non-organic cocoa with other harmful ingredients added into it, may do more harm than good.
- HELPS TO IMPROVE BRAIN POWER – The flavanols in cacao help produce nitric oxide, this assists in relaxing blood vessels and improves blood supply and flow to your brain. They also help with the manufacturing of neurons in the brain. Cacao helps to give you a boost of brain power, making it a great addition to your lunch to help prevent 3:30-itis and brain fog.
- MAY HELP WITH WEIGHT CONTROL – It is said that cacao has been known to help reduce appetite (by helping you feel full), increase fat oxidation, decrease inflammation and regulate your energy use. If you are wondering what is cacao powder useful for and are looking for ways to help maintain or lose weight, then you have a great excuse to whip up some healthy homemade chocolate recipes.
- CACAO CONTAINS MAGNESIUM – Magnesium is essential for many of your body’s natural reactions. A magnesium deficiency can cause a rise in cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, muscle weakness and fatigue. Magnesium has been known to help reduce sore muscles after a workout. This is because magnesium may help with managing neuromuscular signals and muscle contractions, along with helping to relax your muscles. The magnesium in cacao may also help relieve and treat those nasty migraines we get from time to time. Migraines always pop up when they are least convenient, but this may all be because of magnesium deficiency. By Introducing cacao into your regular diet, you just might experience fewer migraines. Wouldn’t that be nice? Getting enough magnesium from your diet is essential to feeling healthy and energised. It is recommended that for women aged 18 – 50 to consume between 320 mg and 360 mg per day. But we advise asking your doctor or nutritionist about the amount of magnesium you need for your individual dietary requirements.
- CALCIUM ABSORPTION AND BONE HEALTH – Because cacao powder contains magnesium, it may help in calcium absorption, therefore contributing to bone health and reducing the chances of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and kidney stones. If you are taking supplements for calcium, the addition of magnesium in your diet will help metabolize the calcium properly.
- MAY HELP WITH PMS – For ladies out there who struggle with symptoms of PMS, organic cacao may be the answer to helping you get back into living life! What is cacao powder useful for when it comes to PMS? Well, because it has magnesium, it may help reduce insomnia, weight gain, leg swelling, bloating, breast tenderness and period pain. When taken throughout the month along with a healthy diet, magnesium is said to help relax your uterus and reduce prostaglandins which cause inflammation and pain.
Ideas for Incorporating Cacao Into Your Daily Routine
It’s time to level up with this amazing South American superfood! Here are few ideas. I personally consume raw cacao powder daily, usually in my coffee.
- Add 2 TBSP of raw cacao powder to your favorite smoothie
- Add 1 TBSP to your oatmeal or overnight oats
- Add 1/2-1 tsp to your morning coffee – I make a blend that sits in a jar next to my coffee maker – cacao powder, mesquite powder, maca powder, and coconut milk powder – heaven!
- Make raw cacao energy bites – so many recipes on Pinterest
- Add to your favorite baking mix or pancake mix
Two Vegan Chocolate Recipes You’ll Love
I mean how can you resist?! Let us know what you think!
Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse
- 6 Medjool dates soaked in warm water for at least 10 minutes
- 2 Ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup Raw cacao powder
- 1/3 cup Maple syrup
- 2 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste
- Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until well combined.
- Let cool in the fridge for at least one hour.
- Top with pomegranate seeds or other toppings.
All you need is LOVE (and chocolate of course)!
Vegan Chocolate Mint Morsels
- Mini heart-shaped cookie cutter – optional
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked // Soak overnight or for at least 2-3 hours
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 3 tbsp agave nectar to taste
- 2 tbsp coconut or almond milk
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 3/4 cup milk chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- Drain and rinse the cashews after soaking.
- Add the cashews, melted coconut oil, agave, milk, and peppermint extract to a high-speed blender. Blend on the highest speed until completely smooth. This can take a couple minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Optional: Roll out your filling onto a flat surface on parchment paper. Use your mini heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out your mint morsels. Then add to parchment paper on baking sheet.
- Or, roll about 1/2 tablespoon of filling to form a ball and place on parchment paper on baking sheet.
- Freeze, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small pot over the lowest heat. When half of the chips have melted, remove it from the heat and stir until all the chips are melted. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly for a few minutes before dunking the mint morsels.
- Remove the mint morsels from the freezer and dunk them into the melted chocolate. Tap the side to shake off excess chocolate and place on parchment paper. Do this step as quickly as possible so the morsels don't melt. (*) Another option is to just drizzle the chocolate on top of the mint morsels.
- Return the mint morsels to the freezer until set, for about 10 minutes, until the chocolate coating is firm.
- Store in the freezer or fridge until ready to enjoy!
Be sure to to follow us on Facebook and come follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for more health + wellness goodness. Happy Valentine’s Day ya’ll and please don’t forget to add a little self-care to the day because, well, YOU DESERVE IT!
As always, like it, love it, share it, spread the love!