Go! Vegan Spotlight – CACAO NIBS
Chocolate?! Healthy Chocolate?! Well, not quite. Cacao comes from the same plant as chocolate but before the whole process starts it takes a different turn. The raw cocoa plant is cold pressed to break down the seed of the fruit. It can then either be roasted somewhat like the coffee bean to round off the bitter flavours or eaten raw. We like ours raw! Some of the good enzymes get broken down when heated so they pack less of a punch.
It’s been used to make a fermented alcoholic beverage over 3000 years ago and the Greeks called it Theobroma – “food of the gods”. Although we wouldn’t go as far to label cacao as divine it sure does make a lot of other nuts, seeds and berries look measly in comparison. And today instead of going through the laborious process of brewing with it we use it to microboost our meals to great effect.
So if it’s chocolate-but-not-chocolate then how does it taste? Powerful. Bitter. Rich. Complex and crunchy. Use sparingly so the other flavours in your dishes have a chance!
Superfood classification comes from its bountiful source of antioxidants, squeezed into every last nib. It’s further known as one of the most concentrated sources of iron & magnesium found in nature.
Copper – A mass of copper cooperates with iron to keep your blood healthy in the formation of red blood cells. It also aids in creating myelin, collagen and melanin, which all protect various parts of your body from your nervous system to skin and bone.
Iron – One of the most important and hard to find minerals in most vegan diets is at it again in another one of our superfoods. Iron deficiencies are all too common yet so easily rectified, and we believe microboosting with cacao is a way to help solve this problem.
Manganese – A somewhat forgotten trace mineral, yet it is critical to a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies use it every day in bone formation, skin integrity and blood sugar control.
Magnesium – Your immune system just got stronger! Magnesium is essential in maintaining a healthy immune system and also helps regulate your heart beat, so how about that.
More, More, More!
- Although it’s not chocolate it still retains its love-drug properties as it’s full of phenylethylamine – which promotes a sense of well-being, boosting your mood almost instantly!
- High in resveratrol among other antioxidants and catechins. Some have been found to promote heart health and lower risk of dementia and diabetes – so that’s a plus!
- A vegan match made in heaven? Research has found that dairy inhibits absorption of antioxidants from cacao, so pile on the cacao when making smoothies and sprinkle freely over that cereal bowl.
As I mentioned earlier cacao is not one to pile gleefully on top of foods knowing you are getting a huge boost of micro-nutrients. Its bitter taste can be overwhelming to some, but I believe you will grow to love these exotic little nibs. Unless…
Scattered amongst cereal flakes, in yoghurts and porridge.
Baked into snack bars, or slipped into a trail mix.
For desert you can bake them into cakes, cookies, muffins or even bread recipes. They balance well with the sweetness of ice-creams too.
For the more daring, try sprinkling them over a salad, remembering to balance the bitterness with oil and citrus and a pinch of salt.