What Everyone Needs to Know About Cacao and Cocoa

healthy eating retreats
Making chocolate from cacao

Who doesn't love chocolate? Sadly, in the diet for weightloss world it's considered a syn or it's firmly on the 'forbidden' list. 

The typical, mass produced choccy we see on supermarket shelves has added sugars, dairy and the nutritional value is negligible - lost in the manufacturing process. But dark chocolate, over 70% cocoa solids made from cacao, is a very different.

Free from lactose, made with natural sweeteners and packed with antioxidants. Sound good? Read on!

Chocolate made with cacao, sometimes described as raw chocolate, is not only rich and tasty, it is also rich in nutrients. If you make it yourself you can also use natural sweeteners like honey or agave if you prefer your chocolate to be vegan  No wonder the Incas called cacao drink, the drink of the gods. It is that reference that is thought to have given rise to the name of the cocoa tree Theobroma cacao, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink).

What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?

The key difference between cacao and cocoa is the way it is processed. Cacao is grown, fermented and dried to ensure the quality, taste and nutritional value of the end product. It normally comes from smaller plantations, tastes more bitter than cocoa powder but is a more natural and nutritious. Whereas cocoa is mass produced and often has other ingredients added to it during the processing.

Unlike the more common cocoa, cacao is high in antioxidant flavonoids, and minerals; copper, potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Many research studies into the potential health benefits of cacao and dark chocolate suggest that the benefits of moderate consumption likely outweigh the risks.

What’s not to love about that?!

Cacao Butter

Cacao butter is the fat from the cacao fruit and makes up the outer lining of the inside of a single cacao bean. It is cold pressed to produce a cream coloured solid block, which smells like the chocolatiest chocolate thing you have ever smelled. You can buy it online easily.

Cacao powder

Cacao powder is produced by cold-pressing the un-roasted beans. The fatty buttery part is separated (cacao butter) and what is left is made into a powder. This is now widely available in supermarkets or online. I tend to buy oragnic brands: Sevenhills, Indigo Foods and Buy Wholefoods online.

I love teaching women how to make nutritious chocolate, it's something we always do in the afternoon on retreat and at the occasional live cook-along in the Non-Diet Method.. Why not give making your own chocolate a go? It's great fun, it makes the kitchen smell amazing and you can enjoy it knowing that you are feeding your cells with nutrients!