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“The cocoa bean is a phenomenon, for nowhere else has nature concentrated such a
wealth of valuable nourishment in so small a space”
German scientist by the name of Alexander von Humboldt
Raw cacao is used not only because of its rich complex flavour, but also because it retains much more of its antioxidant properties which are lost during the roasting process and blocked with the addition of refined sugar and dairy.
The Swedish botanist Carl von Linnaeus, back in 1753, named the genus and species of the chocolate tree “Theobroma cacao”, which means “cacao, the food of the gods”. This is also how the indigenous Maya and Central American people described it. They also referred to as yollotl eztli (heart blood). Interestingly, the magnesium levels and antioxidants in cacao support the heart directly.
The perfect food; raw cacao has more than 300 phytochemicals, including vitamins, minerals, and dietary nutrients such as: fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. It also has quercetin, flavonoids, flavanols, xanthenes, polyphenols, caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide, among others. It has many uses as a stimulant, antibacterial, antioxidant, and protector of the cardiovascular system.
Raw Cacao beans contain 10 grams of flavonol antioxidants per 100 grams, which is an incredible 10%. Research has also demonstrated that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to human metabolism.
Cornell University in the U.S. concluded that it has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times that of green tea
Magnesium for the Heart and Brain
Raw Cacao is the primary dietary source of magnesium, the most deficient mineral in western civilisation. Magnesium is the most important mineral for a healthy functioning heart. It also plays a key role in producing energy for the neurons in the brain from glucose. So when there is an abundance of magnesium the brain works with clarity and focus.
Mood elevators and Anti-depressants
Cacao is a great source of serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine (PEA), four well-studied neurotransmitters, which are associated with feelings of well being and help alleviate depression. Both PEA and Anandamide (the bliss chemical) are found in abundance in the brains of happy people and are particularly released when we are feeling happy. Both of these neurotransmitters are present in raw cacao in large enough quanitities to affect the brain and lift our moods. Cacao also contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) that keep neurotransmitters in the bloodstream for longer without being broken down.
The cacao "beans" that form the basis of chocolate are seeds from the fruit of
the cacao tree, which grows near the Equator. The seeds grow inside a pod-like fruit
and are covered with white pulp.
The pods are carefully broken open to release the cacao beans, which are scooped out and fermented. During fermentation, the flavor begins to change from mainly bitter to the beginnings of the complex flavor called chocolate.
The cacao beans come out of this process of fermentation with a high moisture content, so are then dried. Once the moisture percentage in the cacao beans has reached 6 to 7 percent, they are ready to be further processed.
The beans are cracked into nibs, which are ground or crushed to liquefy the cacao butter and produce what is now called cacao liquor or cacao paste.
From cacao liquor, cacao butter is extracted, and the remaining cacao is dried into powder.
is made from raw cacao liquor/paste or raw cacao powder, and raw cacao butter, stone
ground to smoothness with organic brown sugar or coconut blossom sugar or coconut
nectar. Once tempered, so that it solidifies into its most stable form, the other
ingredients and flavours are added. It is then set into moulds, and once set, it
is packed. It then is eager to come to you so that it can share with you its health
benefits, its enjoyment qualities and its unique taste experience.
Cacao butter is fat that is composed of three to four glycerides of fatty acids, and is what gives chocolate its unique mouth-feel and stable properties. The objective in tempering melted chocolate is to entice the disparate fatty acid crystals of cacao butter back into one stable form. This results in a chocolate that will harden into a very stable hard chocolate with a slight sheen, snap when broken, and will keep for months at cool room temperature.
To be considered real chocolate, a chocolate bar or chunk can contain only cacao butter, not any other fat, such as coconut oil.
The basic chocolate base is raw, and made up of the following ingredients: Raw organic cacao paste or raw organic cacao powder, raw organic cacao butter, raw or plain organic cane sugar, Himalayan salt, and organic vanilla.
A variety of additional ingredients can be added to give another dimension and experience to your chocolate adventure. Here are a few of them.
Essential oils: all essential oils are therapeutic, chemotyped and suitable for ingestion.
Buckwheat: raw organic buckwheat is soaked, sprouted, then dehydrated with raw cane sugar, and essential oils or spices and other flavours to create a crunchy texture in the chocolate.
Spices and herbs: cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg, pepper, lemon and orange rind, mint, tulsi . . . the list keeps going. If it is grown naturally and tastes nice in chocolate, then it can be used!
Fruits: dried blueberries, dried cranberries, dates…
Nuts: hazelnuts, pecan nuts, almonds…
Seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds…
Superfoods: goji berries, acai powder, baobab powder, maca, lucuma, spirulina…
Medicine Flower Extracts: certified organic food-grade flavours for culinary applications that are cold-processed using extraction without the use of any colorants, fillers, diluting agents or preservatives.
Five chemical compounds contained in raw, unadulterated chocolate are highlighted
to show exactly what they are and how they work.
•First, antioxidant polyphenols that neutralize free radicals provide some of the most compelling aspects of eating chocolate because they can reduce processes associated with the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer.
•Second, chocolate contains anandamide, named after the Sanscrit word for “bliss,” which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and anxiety.
•The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate have been shown to produce higher levels of physical energy and mental alertness while, counter-intuitively, lowering blood pressure in women.
•Chocolate’s heart-friendly properties may be due to the presence of epicatechins, antioxidants which are found in higher concentrations in darker and raw forms.
•Studies showed that one-and-a-half ounces of dark chocolate a day for 2 weeks reduced stress hormone levels.
Remember that many chocolate brands are high in sugar, calories and unhealthy saturated fats, so buyer beware. The dilution of the true taste of cacao by refined sugar and milk solids, and the oxidation and alkalinization during processing means its powerful phytonutrients have been diluted and compromised of their integrity.
Take time to eat this special chocolate, so that it has a chance to show you what it is capable of. A good chocolate’s flavour should still be around 5 to 10 minutes after eating, even an hour later we might get a tingle.
All of our senses are connected, and to fully appreciate any food we require more than taste alone.
Be present: Sit quietly and take a few deep breaths to relax yourself.
See: Look at the shine, the colour, the way the light brings out the shape.
Touch: Run your fingers over the chocolate to feel the texture, the shape, the softness.
Smell: Rub it between your fingers a little to awaken the aromas. Inhale the chocolate and ingredient notes deeply through your nose
Taste: Place the chocolate on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. Within thirty seconds, the chocolate should slowly begin to melt around your tongue. As the cacao butter melts away, the flavours in the cacao mass come out to play. By moving the chocolate around the palate as it melts you will begin to pick up the real flavours. While it melts listen to your senses, acknowledge the flavours
Feel: Recognize the life in your body as the chocolate spreads, and you benefit from the anti-oxidants in chocolate, and boost your immune system with the natural ingredients. Each bar brings its own sensations and benefits.
Savour: After you have eaten the chocolate, take a breath into your mouth and chew on the breath, this gives you the lingering sense of the experience. Did you enjoy?