I’m sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled program, but I have something that needs to be addressed. Approximately halfway through an organic food tour the other night at Lassen’s Market, a question was posed to me by a lovely lady at the front of the group. It was immediately after I had explained healthy chocolate bar alternatives and raw chocolate products. Before I get to the question and answer, let me take a moment to explain raw chocolate.
First of all, chocolate is a fruit, and it is derived from beans known as cacao beans. The word “cocoa” is often used interchangeably with cacao. However, there is debate whether they are one in the same. According to the historians of chocolate, cocoa is what you get after cacao has been processed and made into other products. You can believe what you want, but one thing is for sure.. cacao is pronounced ka-cow, and cocoa is pronounced co-co.
Raw cacao is sold in the form of beans, chopped up beans called nibs or powder. If you are used to the sweet, sultry, seductive flavor of conventional chocolate bars and you inhale a tablespoon of cacao in an attempt to satisfy your addiction, you will be greatly disappointed. Believe me when I tell you, raw chocolate is the most bitter tasting substance you will ever encounter. That’s why it is best used in conjunction with other foods to make it more palatable. Since it is raw, it is also unprocessed, unmolested and practically untouched by human hands, which makes it high in nutrient value. Compared to the conventional, store-bought excuse for chocolate, raw cacao is uber high in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, iron, and even protein hombre! That’s what makes it a Lean Beret approved product.
All this talk of nutrients ties into the question I was originally asked, and it went a little something like this… “I’ve heard raw chocolate does not have caffeine like the conventional types. Is that true?” The answer is a resounding “No!” Raw chocolate is actually higher in caffeine than the processed stuff. Any time a food is taken far away from it’s natural state, the nutrients dwindle. A chocolate bar in your local everyday grocery store contains fillers, additives and emulsifiers to make it look pretty and give it a longer shelf life. All of the processing it goes through degrades the vitamin and mineral value, and also reduces the caffeine content. Don’t get me wrong, caffeine is not exactly healthy, but it’s not exactly unhealthy either. It really all depends on how much you take in and how often you consume it.
I think it’s only fitting that I give you a healthy tip before leaving, just in case you are in fact a chocoholic and need to get your fix. Pair cacao nibs or powder with agave syrup. Agave is the nectar of a cactus and it has a consistency and flavor similar to honey. The main difference is it is low on the glycemic index and not processed. Simply drizzle agave over a tablespoon of cacao and eat it. The sweetness from the agave really cancels out the bitterness of the chocolate and makes it taste heavenly. All you need is one tablespoon of this stuff and you will surely be satisfied. As far as where to find cacao products goes, visit your local health food store or go online. Sunfood Super Foods is a Lean Beret approved company who carries Raw Cacao Nibs, as well as other raw foods.
If you have any more questions or comments, fire them at me. I’m always up for a good discussion on food.