Food of the Gods

raw-cocoaI hear all the time “I cannot afford the time, money or ingredients for raw/wholefoods lifestyle”. Really? If you have time to stand in-line and order an extra skinny-soya-double-shot-frappucino-with-hazelnut-syrup before work and a chicken mayonnaise baguette at lunch-time, then not only do you have the money, patience and time to make a protein-packed smoothie for breakfast, and a hearty nutritious salad for lunch, you also have money left over to start buying the core essentials for your wholefoods larder at home!  All my recipes are life and energy giving, nutritionally dense, beneficial for the waistline, great for the skin, high in good fats, cost effective, super-tasty and most importantly easy and quick to prepare. I even throw in a little food science and nutritional info.

Rarely a week goes by without a new superfood exploding on the scene and being dubbed the NEXT ultimate superfood. Chia seeds, goji berries, spirulina, raw cacao and maca have all shared the limelight and for good reason.  Superfoods are vibrant, nutritionally dense foods which offer incredible beneficial properties that surpass that of “regular” food. Let’s start with my favourite raw cacao.

Chocolate has a long history associated with feelings of well being. Mr Willie Wonka case in point, though his oompah-lumpahs could probably have done with a few more chunks.  Raw cacao is abundant in vitamins and minerals including magnesium, chromium, sulphur, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, sodium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A1, B1, B2, C, D, and E. Magnesium is a particularly restorative nutrient for tired aching muscles and regulating blood pressure. Sulphur is known as the beauty mineral for glowing skin. The extra serotonin and endorphins released after a dose of pure raw cacao means less PMT/PMS and mood swings. Perfect for the ladies, men take note.  Phenylethylamine is referred to as the ‘love drug’ nutrient and anandamide has been dubbed the ‘bliss chemical’. Sources state that raw cacao has 360% more antioxidants than regular cocoa and 41 times more antioxidants than red wine.  Research reports that raw cacao works on ones libido with almost instant aphrodisiac effects.  Further trials needed to confirm these findings.

Where does cacao come from?

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when chocolate was born.  Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. For several centuries in Latin America, cacao beans were valuable enough to use as currency. According to a 16th-century Aztec document, one bean could be traded for a tamale while one hundred beans could purchase a turkey hen.

The cacao fruit tree, Theobroma Cacao, ‘food of the gods’ produces cacao pods which are cracked open releasing the cacao beans.  The cacao beans are then processed at temperatures below 118°F producing raw cacao butter, nibs, paste and powder.  Cacao butter makes up the outer lining of the inside of the cacao bean. It is white and has a rich, buttery texture resembling white chocolate. Cacao butter is removed from the bean during production and the remaining part of the fruit is used to produce raw cacao powder. Cacao nibs are the cacao beans which have been chopped up into smaller pieces. Cacao nibs contain all of the fiber, fat, and nutrients of the cacao bean. Cacao paste is prepared by grinding cacao nibs at temperatures below 118°F forming a rich paste.

What exactly are RAW foods?

Raw foods have not been heated above approximately 118F. These foods retain nutrients, vitamins and enzymes which are largely destroyed by the heat used in cooking. Raw foods are vibrant and alive, and when we eat them they convey their life-force “PRANA” to us. Raw foods are detoxifying and can promote alkalinity in the blood. It is said that disease cannot exist in an alkaline environment.

What’s the buzz about raw cacao? Here’s the low-down

  • Raw cacao possesses three hundred chemical constituents
  • is the highest source of magnesium and chromium in any food
  • is an excellent source of monounsaturated and cholesterol-free saturated fats
  • neutralises free radicals
  • is one of the highest sources of antioxidants
  • regulates the heartbeat and brain chemistry
  • relieves PMS
  • is high in antioxidant flavonoids
  • is more potent than blueberries, green tea, red wine and acai
  • has been studied for its effects on longevity more than any other food

I could wax lyrical how coconut oil does not store as fat in our body but is converted straight into energy; how raw cacao neutralises free-radicals and reduces the effects of aging; how dates replenish energy and revitalize the body which is why they are served to break the fast during Ramadan, and even how almonds lower cholesterol levels and can reduce heart disease risk. I mean its’ all super important stuff but my earl grey is getting cold and this raw salted caramel chocolate square is talking to me.

Till next time

TLB x

Tara-Lee has her own magazine page here now, so take a look by following the link below.

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