Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Chocolate is the fantastic. You love chocolate, I love chocolate, almost everyone loves chocolate. And guess what…raw chocolate is one of the best super foods out there! The Aztecs where the first ones to consume it and they even used it as a currency. They were also the first ones to put that stuff in their drinks. Early chocolate smoothies if you will.
The problem with modern chocolate is that it always comes with very suspicious compounds like processed sugar or corn syrup. It is these compounds that are bad for us. Raw, unsweetened cocoa is good for us. Even though there is a lot of sweetened chocolate out there, it is pretty easy to find the raw stuff, just look at the cocoa content on the food label. Ideally the only ingredient listed is cocoa.
The benefits of chocolate include:
A ton of anti-oxidants
Highest plant based source of iron
High in magnesium
Lots of calcium
Releases endorphins and acts as a natural anti depressant
Lowers risks of stroke
The benefits are plenty, but remember that it is all about the quality of the chocolate you consume. Raw chocolate will be bitter. Do not try to sweeten in by adding your own sugar or honey or whatnot, as you will cancel out the benefits. To understand how quality varies, we must first understand how chocolate is made.
How is chocolate made?
Chocolate undergoes a long journey from inedible cocoa beans to delicious treats. At their earliest stage, the chocolate beans grow on trees, are picked and then sent to processing plants. The first stage of processing involves roasting the beans, between 30 minutes and 2 hours. The beans are then cooled, which makes their shells easier to removed. Once the shells are cleaned off, you now have cocoa nibs!
The next step is to crush the nibs, which is a process that produces a lot of heat, melting the fat that is inside the nibs. This fat is called cocoa butter. The resulting paste of cocoa butter and crushed cocoa nibs is called cocoa liquor. Not in the sense that it contains booze but because it is the simplest form on liquified cocoa.
In order to make cocoa powder, the process is quite simple. The cocoa liquor is is pumped through a huge hydraulic press, which removes about half of the cocoa butter in it. Baking soda is added to the results, which is then thoroughly mixed to form cocoa powder! Pretty simple and as you can see, the only added ingredient added is baking soda which adds no caloric amount but does add some sodium to our mixture. Still the healthiest from of chocolate we can get our hands on.
Chocolate is processed differently than cocoa powder in the sense that there are many more ingredients added to the cocoa liquor. First of all, more cocoa butter is added to the mixture. After this, the new chocolate is now mixed with all the various compounds that aren't so good for us. You can have added sugar, sweeteners, corn syrup and whatever else the producer's recipe calls for.
When you look at the percentage of cacao in any given chocolate treat, remember that the lower the percentage of cacao, the more unwanted stuff you have. My recommendation is to go for chocolate that is 85% or more of cacao.
Healthy chocolate bars
Want an easy to make, healthy and delicious snack? Give this recipe a try.
Step one: soak some dates for a while (over night ideally)
Step two: mix together 1 cup dates, 1 cup ground almonds, 1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
Step three: let it sit in the fridge over night
Piece of cake, this is very filling due to the almonds in there, I usually just have a couple spoonful and the tupperware in the picture usually lasts me 5-7 days. It’s very tasty, has no added sugars and always curbs my sugar cravings!
Enjoy the treats,