With the amount of information becoming available on the nature of unhealthy sugars and its adverse effects on our overall well-being, many people are making healthier choices in the food aisles and for good reason. Our bodies need whole, natural, organic foods to nourish it from the inside out and as we have only one body, we have been entrusted with this temple and we need to look after it. One thing that many people believe they need to rid their diets of is the delectable chocolate bar but I am here to tell you that chocolate in its natural raw state should be in everyone’s diet! In fact, raw natural chocolate is high up on the list of health foods for thriving bodies, so here’s the low – down on this superfood.

If you have not yet heard of cacao butter, let me introduce this wonderful super star of the raw chocolate show. Cacao butter (not to be confused with the store bought cocoa) is the pure, cold pressed oil from the cacao bean. Cacao butter retains all its natural anti-oxidant qualities, along with its nutrients due to the fact that it is not heated about 46 degrees. Once the cacao bean has been processed, it comes out in three forms, these include cacao butter, cacao powder, as well as cacao nibs. All of these are nutrient – dense superfood and can be used to make raw chocolate and a range of other sumptuous goodies, including smoothies and vegan cheese cake. Cocoa on the other hand, is basically heated cacao which is why it loses most of its nutrients and anti-oxidants. Cacao butter is an essential ingredient to creating master pieces of raw chocolate that is free of refined sugars and diary, which is all the nasties you will find in store bought milk chocolates. So here’s a closer look at what you will be getting from cacao butter, powder or nibs.

Cacao is full of anti – oxidants, and as such it helps to prevent wrinkles, signs of aging and gets rid of free radicals in your system. It contains the same anti – oxidants found in green tea and red wine, even more reason to pair yummy raw chocolate with your favourite glass of red!

It is a natural aphrodisiac and is known to boost your mood through releasing anandamide, a natural mood enhancer. It also combats depression by aiding in releasing serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine, three well-studied neurotransmitters that combat stress and despair.

Raw cacao is also high in magnesium, which increases the vigour of the heart muscle and is known to decrease the likelihood of strokes and heart disease. It improves blood circulation and gently protects your heart, which is necessary for our stress filled lifestyles.

Your body needs good fats and cacao butter is an excellent way to increase healthy fats in your system, as it contains the same healthy fat found in Olive Oil. As always though, moderation with fats is key, so if you are watching your weight, consume fats wisely.

Lastly, if you are not yet convinced about eating cacao you can introduce it to your beauty regime by using it to create body butter or moisturiser. It works wonderfully on dry skin and helps with scarring. It is also known to reduce inflammation on skin and prevents wrinkles!

One of my favourite things to do with this superfood, is to create healthy raw chocolate bars. They impress at tea parties, art class, and just about anywhere else you take them and this recipe takes a total of 30 minutes from start to finish, your friends will be impressed when you tell them you made chocolate from scratch! Remember you will need to keep the temperature low to keep the recipe raw and nutrient – dense! Cacao is also great for individuals who are lactose – intolerant as most chocolate bars purchased at the supermarket, are made with diary milks. Cacao chocolate does not contain any diary and is naturally gluten – free and loads of fun to make.

Raw Chocolate Almond Strawberry Cups
Serves 20

Chocolate Mixture

100 Grams Cacao Butter
75 Grams Cacao Paste
3 Tablespoons Raw Honey

Place water in a small pot and allow it to heat up gently. Use a ceramic or glass bowl and place it on top of the small pot, make sure the bowl does not touch the water in the pot. Grate your cacao butter and Cacao Paste and place it in your bowl. Stir continually as the cacao melts, mix in three tablespoons of raw honey until everything is melted together. Turn off the heat and use muffin liners on a baking tray. Spoon one tablespoon of your chocolate mixture in to each muffin liner. You should have 20. Pop these in to the freezer for 10 minutes.

Inside Layer

Strawberries
ButtaNut Roasted Almond Butter

Once your chocolate has set in the freezer, take it out and spoon almond butter on to your cup, according to your tastebuds! Half your strawberries and pop your strawberry half on to the almond butter, do this until you have filled all 20. Use the rest of your chocolate mixture to cover your strawberry almond layer, do this by spooning one table spoon in to each cup. Pop back in the freezer. (If you like salty chocolate, dash some sea salt on top or cacao nibs or nuts.)

These store great in the freezer and you can keep them up to a week. Take them out at least 10 minutes before you wish to serve them up. Enjoy!

Edible cacao butter can be hard to find, so please do purchase from a reliable source. My favourite place to shop for organic, wholesome produce is Faithful – to – Nature, they scrutinise all the ingredients in every product, making sure that nasty GMO’s, and harmful chemicals are not present and their prices are good and delivery is free over R350. Here are the links to everything you need to get going with raw chocolate and better health!

Raw Organic Cacao Butter

Raw Organic Cacao Paste

Almond But Butter

About The Author

Lauren

Lauren is a passionate storyteller, who lives at the Southern tip of Africa, where two oceans meet and collide. As a qualified counsellor, she has worked with trauma victims and with abused women for over five years. Leaving the couch of therapy, she now embarks on the journey of full time writing, coupled with full time ministry. She writes about issues relating to women, gender equality, the very many injustices facing women and her latest novel (out in July 2016 by Lux Verbi) is a message for women of South Africa. It is her hope that women will discover how valuable they are and that there is a heroine in their story!

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