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Welcome to February my friends! Hard to believe it’s here already. 🙂
Since February is the “month of love”, I’m gonna talk to you about Chocolate. Cuz I love me some chocolate! And rightly so.
Chocolate treats come in so many different forms; pies, cakes, puddings, cookies…The list could go on forever.
“But wait!”, you say. “You’re all about Traditional Food!”, you say.
“Indeed I am”, I say.
And here’s why chocolate should be a part of your Traditional Foods journey as well.
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Chocolate is good for you?
Chocolate isn’t actually bad for us like a lot of people say it is. It’s another one of those, it’s-what-they-do-to-it-that-makes-it-bad things. In fact, chocolate is actually good for you!
Real, raw chocolate, anyway. Cacao (pronounced ka-cow), is the raw form of chocolate. The ancient Greeks named cacao trees Theobromo cacao, which means, “cacao, the food of the gods”.
Sounds about right to me! 🙂
Cacao is native to Mexico and Central and South America. The trees can grow as tall as 26 feet and produce seed pods.
Each pod contains between anywhere from 20 to 60 seeds, or beans, embedded in a white pulp. The pods are harvested and left to dry for 1 to 2 weeks.
As they dry, the pulp goes through a natural fermentation process. (Natural fermentation is also a part of the Traditional Foods diet. Just sayin…)
After they are completely dry, the beans are removed.
To make the cocoa that most of us are familiar with, the beans are roasted over high heat much like coffee beans.
Sadly, the roasting destroys much of the nutrition of these amazing little gems.
And just what is the nutritional profile of cacao? I’m so glad you asked!
Nutrition in Cacao
Raw cacao is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants, protein, and fiber. Some of the minerals it contains are magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese. It also includes vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, and E.
Other beneficial compounds include alkaloids, beta-carotene, leucine, lipase, lysine, and theobromine.
Some of the compounds help to increase serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which helps improve your mood.
We always knew we were happier after eating chocolate and now we can prove it! 🙂
Of course, as with most foods, the less processing, the more nutrition, so my chocolate recipes have all been converted to using raw chocolate powder. You can get yours here.
But if you don’t have any on hand, no worries, you can substitute regular ole baking chocolate. I’ll give you all that information in the recipes.
We’re going to get the ball rolling with a “healthy” version of chocolate pudding. I say “healthy” because, ya know, chocolate pudding is still a treat. 🙂
I’m so glad we had this chance to chat about the benefits of chocolate. 🙂 Don’t miss out on any recipes this month as we celebrate “the food of the gods”, love-ly chocolate!
What is your favorite chocolate treat?