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What is CACAO?
This is raw "chocolate".
The seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree that was brought to central America during or before the time of the Olmecs. Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them as money!
In 1753 Carl con Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist thought that cacao was so important that he named the genus and of this tree himself. He named this tree: Theobroma cacao, which literally means "cacao, the food of the gods."
Cacao benas contain no sugar and between 12 and 50% fat depending on variety and growth conditions. There is no evidence to implicate cacao bean consumption with obesity.
Cacao is remarkably rich in sulfur and magnesium.
In fact, cacao seems to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during the menstrual period. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and is associated with more happiness. magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet (SAD)- over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium!
Cacao is high in the beauty mineral sulfur. Sulfur builds strong nails, hair, shiny skin, detoxifies the liver, and supports healthy pancreas functioning. Anecdotal reports indicate that cacao detoxifies mercury because it is so high in sulfur.
Cacao contains subtle amounts of natural caffeine and theobromine. However, experiments have shown that these stimulants are far different consumed raw than cooked.
Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors). These are different from digestive enzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MAO inhibitors facilitate youthening and rejuvenation.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) is found in chocolate. PEA is an adrenal-relateed chemical that is also created within the brain and released when we are in love. This is one of the reasons why love and chocolate have a deep correlation. PEA alsos plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.
A neurotransmitter called anandamide has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as the 'Bliss Chemical' becuase it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies' ability to breakdown anandamide. This meands that the natural and/ or cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer when we eat cacao.
A recent study showed that only 1 out of 500 people who thought they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive. Allergies to chocolate are quite rare. It is typically that the person is in fact allergic to milk and dairy products.
What to do with Cacao Beans?
Peel them with your fingernails or a knife. Soaking them in cold water for 30 mintues makes peeling easier then:
- Eat them straight, one at a time and experience the taste extravaganza of raw chocolate.
- Blend them with your smoothie.
- Freeze a blend of cacao beans and a sweetner of your choice (agave, maple syrup, raw honey etc.). Eat cold
- Blend cacao beans with macca into a herbal tea.
- Crush and add to ice-cream for the best chocolate chips you will ever taste!
- Make your own chocolate bar by blending with a sweetner and nuts/ seeds
Blend: Cacao beans, Raw Jelly Bush Honey, Carob powder, Maca, Hemp Oil, Macadamia nuts.
Pour into a mold and freeze. Eat cold and experience the real food of the gods!
I also mix my cacao with various mixes of VANILLA, CAYENNE PEPPER, NUTMEG, CHILLI and HONEY - yum!
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More Cacao History:
Chocolate begins with a bean ... a cacao bean. It has been mashed and eaten for centuries. The history of chocolate spans from 200 B.C. to the present, encompassing many nations and peoples of our world.
The scientific name of the cacao tree's fruit is "Theobroma Cacao" which means "food of the gods." In fact, the cacao bean was worshipped as an idol by the Mayan Indians over 2,000 years ago. In 1519, Hernando Cortez tasted "Cacahuatt," a drink enjoyed by Montezuma II, the last Aztec emperor. Cortez observed that the Aztecs treated cacao beans, used to make the drink, as priceless treasures. He subsequently brought the beans back to Spain where the chocolate drink was made and then heated with added sweeteners. Its formula was kept a secret to be enjoyed by nobility. Eventually, the secret was revealed and the drink's fame spread to other lands.
By the mid-1600s, the chocolate drink had gained widespread popularity in France. One enterprising Frenchman opened the first hot chocolate shop in London. By the 1700s, chocolate houses were as prominent as coffee houses in England.
The New World's first chocolate factory opened in 1765 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sixty years later, Conrad Van Houten, a Dutch chemist, invented a cocoa press that enabled confectioners to make chocolate candy by mixing cocoa butter with finely ground sugar.
In 1876, Daniel Peter, a Swiss candymaker, developed milk chocolate by adding condensed milk to chocolate liquor - the nonalcoholic by-product of the cocoa bean's inner meat. The Swiss also gave the chocolate a smoother texture through a process called "conching." The name was derived from a Greek term meaning "sea shell" and refered to the shape of old mixing vats where particles in the chocolate mixture were reduced to a fine texture.
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Growing Cacao & Markets
The cacao tree is very delicate and sensitive. It needs protection from wind and requires a fair amount of shade under most conditions. This is true especially in its first two to four years of growth.
With pruning and careful cultivation, the trees of most strains will begin bearing fruit in the fifth year. With extreme care, some strains can be induced to yield good crops in the third and fourth
The cacao tree has large glossy leaves that are red when young and green when mature. The tree sprouts thousands of tiny waxy pink or white five-petalled blossoms that cluster together on the trunk and older branches. But only 3 to 10 percent will go on to mature into full fruit.
The fruit has green or sometimes maroon coloured pods on the trunk of the tree and its main branches. Shaped somewhat like an elongated melon tapered at both ends, these pods often ripen into a golden colour or sometimes take on a scarlet hue with multicoloured flecks.
At its maturity, the cultivated tree measures from 15 to 25 feet tall, though the tree in its wild state may reach 60 feet or more.
Handling the harvest
The job of picking ripe cacao pods is not an easy one. The tree is so frail and its roots are so shallow that workmen cannot risk injuring it by climbing to reach the pods on the higher branches.
The planter sends his pickers into the fields with long-handled, mitten-shaped steel knives that can reach the highest pods and snip them without wounding the soft bark of the tree. Machetes are used for the pods growing within reach on the lower trunk.
Gatherers follow the harvesters who have removed the ripe pods from the trees. The pods are collected in baskets and transported to the edge of a field where the pod breaking operation begins. One or two length-wise blows from a well-wielded machete are usually enough to split open the woody shells. A good breaker can open 500 pods an hour.
A great deal of patience is required to complete harvesting. Anywhere from 20 to 50 cream-coloured beans are scooped from a typical pod and the husk and inner membrane are discarded.
Dried beans from an average pod weigh less than two ounces, and approximately 400 beans are required to make one pound of chocolate. Exposure to air quickly changes the cream-coloured beans to a lavender or purple. They do not look like the finished chocolate nor do they have the well-known fragrance of chocolate at this time.
The cocoa beans or seeds that are removed from the pods are put into boxes or thrown on heaps and covered. Around the beans is a layer of pulp that starts to heat up and ferment. Fermentation lasts from three to nine days and serves to remove the raw bitter taste of cocoa and to develop precursors and components that are characteristic of chocolate flavour
Drying the beans
Like any moisture-filled fruit, the beans must be dried if they are to keep. In some countries, drying is accomplished simply by laying the beans on trays or bamboo matting and leaving them to bask in the sun. When moist climate conditions interfere with sun-drying, artificial methods are used. For example, the beans can be carried indoors and dried by hot-air pipes.
With favourable weather the drying process usually takes several days. In this interval, farmers turn the beans frequently and use the opportunity to pick them over for foreign matter and flat, broken or germinated beans. During drying, beans lose nearly all their moisture and more than half their weight.
Once dried, the beans can be sold. Buyers sample the quality of a crop by cutting open a number of beans to see that they are properly fermented. Purple centres indicate incomplete fermentation.
The beans are sold in international markets. African countries harvest about two-thirds of the total world output; Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, and Cameroon are the leading African cocoa producers. Most of the remainder comes from South American countries, chiefly Brazil and Ecuador. The crop is traded on international commodity futures markets. Attempts by producing countries to stabilise prices through international agreements have had little success.
When you're first using Raw Organic Cacao, I recommend you use this basic recipe(from Raw Guru David Favor):
IMPORTANT: BEFORE ADDING RAW CHOCOLATE NIBS TO THE BLENDER BE SURE TO GRIND THEM INTO A FINE POWDER IN A COFFEE GRINDER OR USE A MORTAR & PESTAL
6 Tbl Cacao Nibs
1 Tbl Carob
1/4 tsp Himalayan Salt
1/4 Cup Agave Nectar
6 Cups Pure Water
1) Grind the Cacao in a coffee grinder or mortar & pestal.
2) Blend all ingredients till smooth.
3) Leave in glass container overnight to merge flavors and soften Cacao bits.
4) Drink with wild abandon.
ADD OTHER SUPERFOODS FROM OUR PRODUCTS PAGE such as MACCA and BEE POLLEN and JELLY BUSH HONEY
Chocolate Nut-Milk Recipe by David Wolfe
1 liter (4 cups) of coconut water 20 cacao beans (preferably peeled) 10 raw cashews (everyone loves cashews!) 3-5 tablespoons of carob powder and/or Organic Maca powder (maca is a powdered root from Peru that is an amazing high-protein superfood aphrodisiac, strengthener, and fertility enhancer. Organic Maca is available from alivefoods.com ) 3-5 tablespoons of honey and/or agave cactus nectar 2 tablespoons of hempseed oil 2 tablespoons of coconut oil/butter 2-3 pinches of Himalayan Crystal Salt 2-3 sprinkles of cinnamon
Blend all ingredients, drink, and arrive back on Earth in about 2 hours!