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Italian Thick Hot Chocolate + the Benefits of Cacao

Who knew that hiding in our unhealthy, sugar laden chocolate bar is a wonderful powder filled with nutritional power and an immense possibility of flavour! Cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans, whilst keeping the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter)! I am sure you have all heard (and rejoiced at) the studies that boast of chocolate’s amazing health benefits! Though I am sorry but they are likely referring to that block of Cadbury sitting in the fridge and more likely referring to raw cacao! But trust me, when use right, cacao can be just as good (sometimes BETTER – GASP) then a block of Cadbury and whats better is you get an array of health benefits too! This hot chocolate recipe is one of my FAVOURITE and most decadent ways to use cacao powder whilst ensuring I am receiving all the benefits! I love making this recipe up for people, seeing their reaction to how good it is and then glorifying in their surprise when I tell them that it’s not a powdered pre-made hot choccy mix, but rather a simple blend of purely magical ingredients!

BENEFITS

The following is a list of the many benefits cacao powder can provide to you!

ANTIOXIDANT KNOCKOUT – With 40 times the amount of antioxidants to blueberries, Cacao has a massive ability to absorb free radicals within our body which cause cell and tissue damage and can lead to diseases such as cancer!

IRON POWER – Cacao is the highest plant source of iron, coming in at a whopping 7.3mg per 100g. Compare this to beef and lamb at 2.5mg, and spinach at 3.6mg, cacao is pretty impressive! Though, note the iron in cacao is non-heme, so to get the maximum benefits you'll want to combine it with some vitamin C!

MAGNESIUM MAGIC Magnesium is the most deficient mineral in the Western world; though don’t fear as cacao is one of the highest plant sources of magnesium! Magnesium is important for a healthy heart, and helps turn glucose into energy enabling your brain to work optimally!

CALCIUM –at 160mg per 100g vs only 125mg per 100ml, cacao has more calcium than cow's milk and so is great for promoting healthy bones and teeth and nerve stimulation!

MOOD ELEVATOR - Cacao is a great source of four scientifically proven happiness chemicals - serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression. A natural, healthy, delicious (and legal) way to get your happy high! <3

USES

The thing I love about food is that there are endless possibilities of ways you can use it, some which can make the food more tolerable, some which can increase the nutritional properties and some which don’t even require eating! Here are some of my favourite uses for cacao powder:

  • Hot chocolate

  • Chucked into a smoothie

  • Chucked into a bliss ball mix

  • Chucked into oats or chia pudding

  • Used to make chocolate - ¼ cup coconut oil + tbsp cacao powder + tbsp maple syrup – mix, pour into mould and freeze for 30 min! YUM!

WATCH OUT!

I must admit I am one of those people who when told “less is more” ignores that advice COMPLETELY and will instead use half the product in the first use or drench my whole meal with the “SUPERFOOD”. I think that especially in regards to products and foods that are deemed “healthy” for you, people are more likely to consume/use extra in the hope that it will make them SUPER HEALTHY, SUPER QUICK! Though I have come to realise that sometimes having too much of a good thing can actually to more harm than good! It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health, therefore, it is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health! Some of the not so happy side effects that can occur if you consume more than 40 grams of cacao are:

STIMULANT - Much like coffee, raw cacao acts as a stimulant, which at the least can negatively affect sleep and at worst may agitate kidneys.

HALUCINGOGEN - In high doses, cacao may act as a hallucinogen.

TOXICITY - Frequent consumption may cause a toxic buildup in the liver and in the blood over time!

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 1 large or two small

  • 2 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk or 2 cups canned coconut milk (for a more decadent hot chocolate – I like this option!)

  • 3 tbsp cacao powder

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Pinch sea salt

  • 1/4 cup pitted fresh dates

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder

  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients in a small pot on the stove and heat over medium high heat, until just about to boil. BUT DO NOT BOIL.

  2. Pour the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth.

  3. Pour into mug and ENJOY!

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