The Joy of Cacao – Cacao Balls
Ready for the good news? This Amazonian superfood is a guilt free chocolatey treat. It’s derived from the same Theobroma Cacao tree from which cocoa is derived, only it’s the unprocessed version of the cacao bean. Pronounced cu-cow, it’s full of antioxidants and flavanols (which just happen to be the little miracle workers that keep us young and healthy)… so dig in!
And when you discover that 60-90% of the original antioxidants in cacao are lost through processing into cocoa powder, it certainly makes a whole lot of sense to opt for the natural version. I have a spoon that remains beside my jar of cacao and coconut butter on my kitchen bench.
The taste is delightful (dissolve a spoonful slowly in your mouth!)…. but what are the tangible health benefits of raw organic cacao?
- 40 times the antioxidant properties of blueberries (protects the heart and prevents cellular damage, meaning it keeps us young)
- highest plant-based source of iron (also good source of copper, potassium and zinc)
- lowers cholesterol
- facilitates healthy blood flow and blood pressure (thereby reducing clogged arteries)
- full of calcium and magnesium (magnesium helps with calcium absorption, metabolism and protein synthesis)
- a natural anti-depressant and feel good food (known to aid premenstrual syndrome)
What are the easiest ways to get your cacao on a daily/weekly basis?
- make a hot chocolate drink or a morning metabolism boosting drink using cacao powder
- add cacao powder or cacao butter to a smoothie
- make cacao balls (see below), with other superfoods/wholefoods, and have on hand for a daily sweet treat
- make brownies, a chocolate tart, no-bake health bars, a chocolate mousse or chocolate & chai pudding….
- add crunchy cacao nibs to yogurt and fruit in the morning
- have a square or two of raw dark chocolate mid-afternoon…. try my favourite treat; in a small bowl place a couple of dates, a handful of pecans and almonds (or walnuts or brazil nuts) and a square of raw dark chocolate, make a cup of black tea and enjoy!
Check out your local health food store for cacao powder, cacao nibs, cacao butter and raw dark chocolate bars. No wonder these Superfood beans used to be a form of currency in the Amazon rainforest!
Cacao Balls: a great little snack to have on hand during the week to chase away the 3pm sweet craving!
Place the following ingredients in a food processor –
- 200g blanched almonds
- ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 250g pitted dried dates
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- 2 tblsp black chia seeds
- 1/3 cup goji berries
- 1 ½ tblsp water
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Whizz it all up until the mixture forms a paste.
With damp hands, roll into balls and roll in desiccated coconut.
Refrigerate covered for 1 hour until firm (store in an air tight container, lasts up to a week).