Cacao is the most pure form of chocolate available to us as it comes very close to the raw and natural state in which it is harvested. My partner and I were fortunate enough to visit a few cacao farms in the Amazon Jungle of Peru earlier this year, where we met the growers and learnt the processing methods from farm to factory.
It is a timely process from seed to powder as a cacao pod takes from 180-210 days to reach maturity - that's four to five months of energy from the earth & sun absorbed into this super food for us to enjoy! Then there is the harvesting, anaerobic and aerobic processes, de-shelling, grounding and packaging of the bean. Discovering the effort and energy it takes from Mother Earth and all others involved to bring us this delicious product makes it all the more enjoyable when we sip our hot cacao or enjoy a piece of chocolate.
Cacao is not only energetically rich but also contains bountiful medicinal benefits, which is why it’s classified as one of Mother Nature’s true super foods. Cacao is one of the highest natural food sources of magnesium, is a pre-biotic, which encourages our beneficial digestive micro flora to proliferate and is rich in cardiovascular protective properties and antioxidants, which enhance detoxification, reduce inflammation and promote longevity (http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/10/4159/htm ).
The medicinal action that I find most intriguing is cacaos effect on our neurotransmitters and mood. Cacao has been reported to have an antidepressant effect and a positive impact on brain neurotransmitters (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3859901/). Cacao contains tryptophan, which is a precursor for the production of serotonin, our feel good hormone, which assists feelings of wellbeing and encourages resilience to stress and anxiety. Some psychoactive ingredients have also been identified in cacao including caffeine, theobromine, tyramine and phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA has a stimulant effect which leads to the release of biogenic amines, including dopamine and serotonin, which promote excitement, euphoria and increase energy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904499/
To reap the most out of cacao avoid highly processed chocolate bars with refined sugar and hydrogenated oils. There are so many wonderful healthy options out there – such as our super food drinking chocolate ~ Ceremony Cacao (http://ceremonycacao.com ) or Loco Love tonic infused chocolates (https://locolove.com).
Guilt-free chocolate brownies
Refined sugar, gluten and dairy free with a rich chocolate taste and soft centred texture. These tasty morsels are perfect for an on the go breakfast, afternoon snack or healthy dessert.
¾ generous cup of buckwheat flour
¾ cup of Ceremony Classic Cacao powder (https://ceremonycacao.com/product/poncho-3/) or other cacao powder of choice
¼ tsp. baking powder
175g sweet potato, cooked and mashed to a puree
¼ cup of coconut sugar
175g goats butter or coconut oil
¼ tsp. vanilla extract or powder
OPTIONAL CACAO DRIZZLE
Mix 1 tsp. cacao powder with 1 tbsp. melted coconut oil for topping
1. Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius
2. Sift the flour, cacao and baking powder into a bowl
3. Place the sweet potato puree, coconut sugar, melted butter / coconut oil, egg and vanilla extract in another bowl and mix together well
4. Stir dry ingredients into wet
5. Pour the brownie mixture into a rectangular cake tin lined with grease proof paper and bake for 20-25 minutes, until it is set on top but gooey in the middle
6. Cool in the cake tin, then cut into squares
7. Optional: Drizzle with cacao and sprinkle with goji berries and almonds
8. Store in an airtight container if you haven’t eaten them all on the first day.
Ema Taylor is a Sydney based naturopath with a Bachelor of Health Science. Ema has a special interest in Womens Health, writing and research and food as medicine. Ema is deeply passionate about supporting patients on their journey to their most vibrant and balanced self. www.emataylor.com