Everyone likes chocolate, right? We don’t need an excuse to eat it. But you need to eat the right kind of chocolate to get some health benefits from the cacao bean.
The cacao bean does actually grow on trees and is native to Mexico, Central and South America. Each pod has 40 and 60 cacao seeds inside it. The pods are opened and the seeds removed. They then undergo a natural fermentation and drying process for 1-2 weeks and after this time you have a raw cacao bean.
Cacao is rich in antioxidants and has zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium, sulfur, iron, copper, certain B vitamins, fibre and protein.
It can help lower blood pressure and enhance circulation by promoting dilation, strength and health of blood vessels and improve blood flow. So this is great news to help with improving your stamina during exercise.
I recommend that you eat dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao to get the benefits and less sugar. You can buy raw cacao nibs but these have a bitter taste so I recommend mixing them into cakes, muffins or cookies if you don’t like the bitter taste.
Alternatively, you can buy raw cacao powder and make hot chocolate or mix into cakes etc as well. Why not make your own chocolate with cacao butter and cacao powder and add honey for sweetener or other sweetener of your choice. I recommend buying your raw chocolate from Choc Chick. They also sell everything to make your own chocolate.
CHOCOLATE AND DATE BARS
400g/2 cups pitted dates
110g/¾ cup raw cashews or any other nut of your choice
57g/¼ cup nut butter
40g/½ cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
Optional – add in some dried fruit
Toss everything into a food processor and process until the mixture starts to go smooth and clump into a ball. The dates will be all chopped up but you’ll still have bits of nut. Turn the mixture out into an 8 or 9 inch square dish lined with parchment paper. Use your hands to firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the dish. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and cut into pieces using a sharp knife. Enjoy these bars cold or frozen. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.