Friday, February 18, 2011

Cacao beans and how much they can do for your yogurt ...and your health

If you are like me you probably love the taste of chocolate, but you don't like that you can never get enough (Lindor, anyone?). I find that with less processed types of chocolate like our favorite ChocoVivo it takes a lot less to be full. If you trace chocolate back to it's origins, it all starts from the cacao pod and the cacao bean. If you have never seen them, they are quite impressive and really make you appreciate all the hard work that goes in between picking the fruit and roasting the beans and providing you with a simple package of happiness you get to open on a lonely night.

But how do you do that guilt free? You can get the benefits of chocolate minus all the lower quality ingredients that stimulate your appetite, save the sugars and the emulsifiers and whatever the manufacturer put in there to get you to eat more by simply going back to the source and have the cacao bean.

The bean was so valued by the Aztec and Mayan civilizations that it was practically used as money. You can get whole or crushed beans in most health food stores. The beans are crunchy, they have a nice deep flavor and a great slightly sweet and bitter aftertaste. They are extremely satisfying if you are craving chocolate.

The cacao bean is a stimulant, so it's great to add it to your afternoon or pre workout snack or if you are looking at a long day at work, where you need to focus on complex tasks. It's an amazing brain-food, a potent antioxidant (even stronger than green tea and red wine), it combats depression, helps your heart, and it's told to ease the mood swings of pregnancy. You can use the cacao bean crushed on top of desserts or just eat it in trail mix or on its own, as a snack. I like it sprinkled on my breakfasts and snacks, and as an ingredient in sauces like mole.


Just yesterday I had this awesome pre workout snack. This is all you need to make 1 serving of cacao nib and almond yogurt:

1 cup plain yogurt
3 tbsp almond meal
1 tsp cocoa nibs to top
1 pinch nutmeg

Mix the plain yogurt with nutmeg and top with the almond meal. Use cocoa nibs to finish. If you enjoy the sweet taste, you can add honey or maple syrup for a nice sweet touch.

Let me know how you used your cacao beans and don't forget to get some ChocoVivo chocolate for the next best thing. My favorite flavors are coffee vanilla and Mayan traditions. Oh my, I think we are out!

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