Today I had to come and share one of my recent and marvelous new discoveries: cacao powder (yes, I discovered it, it was me).
Cacao powder is not the same as cocoa - it's not that tin of Nestle in your pantry that you use to make choccy cakes. Sorry.
Let's just get one thing sorted before we continue: how to pronounce cacao. *Leaves page to find out how to pronounce cacao.*
Okay everyone, it's KA COW. I was saying it wrong. *How embarrassment*
Alright, so lately I've been adding a friendly spoon of cacao to my morning smoothies. As a lover of chocolate, I feel like I'm having a treat, and my body agrees! Lately I've been thinking about redefining the word 'treat'. As far as food goes, when we traditionally think of having a treat we think: piece of cake, chocolate, dessert, take-away. But whom are you treating? It's a treat to your taste buds, fair enough, but not a treat to your internal organs or your bootay (depending on your preferences). When you eat nutritious food, your body, your internal organs (just imagine them as cartoons with big smiley faces) are screaming "THANKS FOR THE TREATS!".
Just another way to think of it.
Anyway, ka-cow powder adds an extra taste element to my smoothie and is a treat to both my taste buds AND my body (UH-HUH MOMENT ALERT!)
I'm going to borrow a couple of paragraphs from this Body + Soul article about the benefits of cacao (it basically says that raw cacao power is crazy high in antioxidants and is great for your hair, nails, healthy organs, bloodstream and mood).
Naturopath Aimee Robbins says raw, powdered cacao is full of flavonoids, which act as natural antioxidants. "Antioxidants protect the body from ageing and disease caused by free radicals. Raw cacao contains up to four times the antioxidants of traditional cacao powder, and has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world." Scientists from Cornell University in the US recently discovered that raw cacao contains nearly twice the antioxidant content of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidant content of green tea.The cacao bean is also rich in magnesium, an energy mineral and vital electrolyte. This super-food is also a good source of sulfur. Sulfur is associated with strong nails, shiny hair and a healthy liver and pancreas. Medical herbalist Dominique Finney says the flavonoids in cacao prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidising and clogging the arteries. "Cacao has also been found to help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol while building the immune system."
...Raw cocoa is an aphrodisiac because it contains anandamide, a substance that induces euphoria. It also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mood enhancer. While this super-molecule exists naturally in the brain, the only other food that contains PEA is blue-green algae.Shiny hair AND happy organs? I can tell you're sold, now where do you get it?
I bought a 125g pouch of Nature's Way Cacao Powder (100% certified organic raw - all of the things) from Chemist Warehouse on special for $8.95 and that will last me a few weeks. Some sources say that mixing raw cacao with dairy inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Admittedly I need to find some alternative ways to mix it as I've been having it in a dairy smoothie. Do you have a cacao powder concoction you can share with me? I'm not a fan of store-bought soy, coconut, rice or almond milks because they contain a lot of additives/sugars/seed oils/gums (whatever they are). Maybe I should try my hand at home-made almond milk... that's a story for another day!
Edit: Went to Coles this morning and read the ingredients list on the back of at least 10 different varieties of almond milk and coconut milk. Yep, that person. Most of them are rubbish - way too many ingredients and sugar high up on the list, but I think I found a winner:
Pure Harvest Activated Almond Milk. 4 ingredients only - water, almonds, sea salt and rice syrup as a sweetener, but in negligible quantities (2.4g per 100g).
This concoction: 1 cup almond milk, half a banana, 2 heaped teaspoons cacao powder. Good thanks!