This past winter we were lucky enough to escape the cold weather and spend time in Pavones, Costa Rica. It was there that I was introduced to splendor of raw cacao! I’ve always been a chocoholoic but this took my affinity to a new level! Chocolate that not only tastes incredible but is actually good for me!
Raw chocolate comes from the nut of the cacao fruit or from the Theobroma Cacao Bean translated into “the food of the Gods” which grows indigenously in rainforest climates such as those in Costa Rica. It has been a treasured commodity and used medicinally since ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations. It is known to have superfood properties that boost health and vitality.
Raw cacao is not roasted and processed like cocoa powder and contains high levels of antioxidants, magnesium, iron, zinc, essential fatty acids and sulfur. It contains theobromine which is a mild stimulant which may prevent depression by producing neurotransmitters (messengers in the brain that influence thoughts, emotions and energy levels). It is four times higher than goji berries on the ORAC scale.
The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food.
However, as with everything…moderation is key! Too much raw chocolate can tax the adrenal glands, kidney and liver. It is a diuretic and stimulates the central nervous system sending us in a state of “fight or flight” which is never a good thing (unless you’re being chased by a bear!).
Raw cacao has a strong, bitter taste. Some eat it plain but, the bitter taste can be mellowed when blended with a little coconut oil and a sweetener such as maple syrup. The indigenous people of Pavones harvest and sell raw cacao on Saturdays in the center of town. Before we left I bought every cacao ball I could find! It’s a wonder how I snuck through customs with pounds of this stuff!
Salted Almond Raw Chocolate Bark
- Mix cacao powder with coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. If needed, place over a very low heat until coconut oil melts.
- Stir in raw almond slices.
- Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle with sea salt
- Let cool in the refrigerator until set.
- Cut into pieces and enjoy 🙂
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