Everything You Need to Know About Cocoa Powder
Chocolate, cocoa powder, raw cacao powder, oh my! Let’s dig into all the wonders of this ancient superfood and what the differences are!
Cacao has been around since the time of the Maya’s roughly over 1500 years ago! Cacao has been thought to originate in Central America, as well as the Amazon basin. All chocolate starts with the fruit of the cacao tree. The chocolate comes from the cacao beans, the seeds inside the pods, and then they are fermented and then dried. After a few more processes they add sugar and there you go milk chocolate. Cocoa is the unsweetened version and its unrefined form is raw cacao.
What we usually find in grocery stores, such as chocolate bars, milk chocolate, candy, etc. It is much more processed and there is usually sugar and milk added to the process. This will strip away most of the nutritional benefits found in unprocessed cacao.
Is an unsweetened version of regular chocolate. Cocoa powder is when the fat, cocoa butter, is removed from the beans when being processed. There are usually two different kinds of cocoa powder: Dutch-processed and natural. Natural cocoa powder is the most common of both. Natural tends to be more acidic and fruitier than Dutch-processed. Natural cocoa is usually used in brownies for example. You’ve probably often seen in stores the Dutch-processed cocoa powder. It tends to dissolve a little bit easier and is less bitter. It’s usually used in ice cream and hot chocolate for example.
Raw Cacao powder:
We can think of raw cacao as the unrefined version of chocolate. It is made by cold-pressing the unroasted cacao beans. This helps to retain all the living enzymes in cacao, it also removes the fat from the cacao bean, removing the cacao butter. Raw cacao has so many nutritional benefits, and why it has been named a superfood for this reason. Raw cacao is high in minerals such as magnesium. One of the highest natural forms is found in cacao powder, for example, this can be helpful to relieve cramps for women or relax muscles. It is also known as a beauty food, as it has one of the highest amounts of antioxidants. Cacao can also help lower blood pressure by increasing circulation, it can also improve blood flow to your brain. Definitely, a superfood to add to your daily routine!
Cacao nibs are the dried and fermented parts of the cacao bean. They are essentially little pieces of dried cacao beans. They definitely have quite a bite to them in the bitter-tasting department. You can also replace them with regular chocolate chips in recipes, but just remember that you won't get that sweet taste, but a more bitter one. Again, these will be packed with more nutrients as they are less processed than chocolate bars or cocoa powder.
Ceremonial cacao is cacao in its whole form! It retains the cacao butter with it. It is called ceremonial cacao because it is used in healing ceremonies, it has been practised for many centuries. It is used to open the heart, create awareness and focus, connect to the body, let go, create gratitude and so much more. It is more beneficial to practice this in a ceremony, instead of buying. Mayan and Aztec traditions used cacao as actual currency, that's how valuable it was to them.
Superfood Hot Chocolate Recipe
- 1 cup Dairy-free milk of choice
- 1 tbsp of raw cacao powder
- ¼ - ½ tsp cinnamon (depending on taste)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- Pinch of sea salt
Blend or heat on the stove and you're done!