Everyone needs chocolate in their life, right?! Cacao is well-known for being a superfood with a range of health benefits. The problem is most cacao beans are processed with lots of dairy and sugar to create the kind of chocolate you buy in the shops that has been tempting you since childhood. Now this causes problems if you are dairy intolerant, vegan or health conscious. You need an alternative! This is where raw chocolate comes in: a guilt-free indulgence that can actually boost your health. Awesome right?! Since I tried raw chocolate a few years back, I have never looked back. I use it on all my Naturally Guilt Free products and am partial to eating chunks of it to satisfy a craving. My baby boy who has dairy allergy gets to enjoy it with me too!
What is raw chocolate?
Normal chocolate is made by roasting cacao beans at a high heat. This process breaks down the nutrients, vitamins and anti-oxidants found in the beans. Really all it provides you with is a hit of sugar and fat that gives you a sugar rush. When chocolate is ‘raw’, this means that it has not been roasted, thus retaining all the amazing health benefits normally lost through the roasting process. Raw chocolate is also dairy-free and uses natural sugars rather than refined sugars. The best bit? It still tastes totally amazing!
What makes it good for you?
There are so many health benefits to raw chocolate, I have just picked a few of the biggies here:
- It enhances your mood and mental wellbeing: Studies have shown chocolate affects your mood and emotions by raising your serotonin levels and releasing what we call ‘happy hormones’. A substance called Anandamide found in raw chocolate produces feelings of contentment and relaxation. Anandamide is affected during the roasting process and only 25% remains in normal chocolate. The mood boost you experience after eating normal chocolate is usually a sugar rush. You don’t get the sugar highs and crashes associated with roasted chocolate, keeping you more satisfied and less likely to crave more.
- Helps our body fight disease and toxins: raw chocolate is significantly richer in antioxidants compared to the roasted version. It is 4 x higher in antioxidants than dark chocolate and 20 x higher than blueberries. Antioxidants help reverse the damage caused by exposure to pollution, smoking, stress and unhealthy foods.
- Protects your heart and protects against cardiovascular disease: Flavanols and other substances found in raw cacao can help lower blood pressure, boost heart health and improve circulation. Raw chocolate contains heart healthy monounsaturated fats and has anti-inflammatory properties, contributing to overall health and wellbeing.
How can you include it in your diet?
Like all foods, raw chocolate should be eaten in moderation. However, you can enjoy it on a more regular basis than its sugar and dairy filled counterpart! You can make your own (see recipe below) and have a few pieces when cravings strike, or buy it from places like Cococaravan, Ombar or from my Naturally Guilt Free food range. A little goes a long way towards satisfying a craving as it is much richer in flavour than normal chocolate. You could also add cacao powder and add to your porridge or smoothies for a superfood boost.
Basic Raw Chocolate Recipe:
- 60g cacao butter
- 50g cacao powder
- 2 tbsp sweet freedom
- Double boiler
- chocolate moulds (mini cup cake cases also work)
- measuring scales
– Make sure all equipment that will be touching the chocolate is completely dry. Water makes the chocolate separate.
- Melt finely chopped cacao butter in double boiler (remember keep heat low to preserve nutritional properties). Melt it slowly, keep taking the bowl on and off the heat and stirring until completely liquified.
- Take it off the heat, add in the cacao powder and stir until all well combined and there are no lumps.
- Add sweet freedom and stir. The chocolate will turn glossy and will thicken.
- Pour into moulds.
- Place in the fridge to set. Keep up to 4 weeks in an airtight container.
You can experiment by adding different flavours of essence to your raw chocolate too, orange or peppermint work well.
Enjoy! For more guilt-free recipes using raw chocolate, download my free e-book here!
Love Natasha x