Are diamonds really a girl’s best friend? I think it’s more like…chocolate. Yeah, definitely chocolate! I would take Lindt or Godiva over Tiffany’s everyday! No wonder the Mayans and the Aztecs called hot chocolate “The drink of Gods”. Not only is it incredibly delicious and the true key to happiness, it is actually one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world! I think that’s more than enough reason to start implementing it into our diet everyday…don’t you agree? 😉 Here’s a bit about the antioxidant power of cacao!
Antioxidants are compounds which fight free radicals and protect our cells from all the damage they can do. Free radicals are unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures, especially toxins, and cause inflammation & create all sorts of problems. Our bodies produce antioxidants naturally, but unfortunately, due to all the pollution & toxins in our everyday life, we cannot count on them to fully protect us. We need some help from an outside source. That’s why educating ourselves on the foods we’re eating is so crucial – not just for their nutritional composition, but also functional.
For example, 1 cup of broccoli has a nutritional composition (macros) of 0.5 g fat, 10 g carbs (& 3.8 g fiber) & 4.2 g protein, but its functional composition (micros) is Vitamin C, A, B6, Magnesium, Iron & Calcium. When we choose our daily foods, we need to make sure we include a variety of vitamins & minerals, as each one of them serves a different function and is not interchangeable with another. This is especially important when it comes to antioxidants. Some of the most widespread antioxidants include Vitamin A, C, E, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, manganese, zeaxatin, flavonoids, flavones, catechins, polyphenols, and phytoestrogen. They can be found in all sorts of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, medicinal mushrooms, sprouts….we just gotta do the work to find out which foods contain which!
Cacao is full of flavanols and polyphenols, and has definitely earned its “superfood” label. Derived from the Theobroma Cacao tree, cacao is believed to have been discovered by the Mayans as early as 900 AD! Crazy, I know! They actually figured out that the beans could be made into a drink (umm talk about being advanced!), by crushing them & adding some hot water and chilli peppers. Since there was no sugar in Central America at the time, the liquid was quite bitter, and as they poured the liquid between cups until a foam appeared on top, they formed a word for it, ‘xocolatl’, meaning ‘bitter water.’
Although today we know better than making ‘bitter water’ with our cacao, learning how much power they used to give to these little beans is absolutely astonishing, given the fact they had no idea about their true, scientific benefit. Luckily, we know all about them today, so we need to make sure we are also having our ‘Drink of the Gods’ rituals, cause, let’s face it…we are all Goddesses 😉
Ways to implement raw cacao in our daily lives:
#1 Hot Cacao
Simple as that! Of course, our bitter water will have some adjustments (to say the least). The best part about making hot cacao/chocolate for me is all the different flavors & possibilities we can have! For example, just by changing the liquid of choice makes all the difference in the world! I love pouring some homemade hazelnut, cashew, or macadamia milk (as they are super creamy), oat milk (makes it sweeter), coconut milk (for that tropical flavor), or hemp milk (for some extra protein). I’ve recently made some pistachio milk, and I was blown away, I tell ya!
Next stop, spices! The Holiday season is here, and I am craving ALL the spices. Cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove…ughhh that’s just Xmas in a cup! If you like it minty, you can make a peppermint hot chocolate, and if you like it spicy hot (like our friends Mayans did), add some chilli powder or cayenne pepper to the mix! To make it sweeter, add anything you like (I personally love coconut sugar or monk fruit sweetener with a splash of vanilla extract ), and to add a bit of extra, superfood touch, you can mix in some adaptogens (rhodiola, ashwagandha, maca), or even medicinal mushrooms 🙂
#2 Raw Vegan Chocolate Treats
From raw pralines, mousse & brownies, to cakes & cookies, raw cacao can definitely be a star of all the desserts in the world! I mean, when I see chocolate in any way, shape, or form, I am trying it. Period.
Using raw cacao powder makes a great base/filling/coating/ganache/ice cream, but one of the things I like THE most are cacao nibs. They add that incredible crunch to any food, and if you want to try the best thing ever, add it to your nut butters – you’re welcome! And…if you wanna get a bit crazy…you can also…
#3 Make Your Own Chocolate
It’s not so hard, I swear! I don’t want to pretend I figured it all out by myself, so I’ll give you a LINK to my favorite cacao loving person in the world, David Avocado Wolfe. He is the master of chocolate (and avocado, obviously!), and he’s definitely the one you should be learning this stuff from!
So, there you have it, now you know you can have chocolate every single day in your life and feel absolutely amazing about it, knowing you are fighting inflammation, protecting your vessels, lowering your blood pressure & boosting your serotonin levels! Bring on the cacao fix!
XOX, Karla Tafra
Yoga Nutrition Fitness