We’ve all heard about the health benefits of eating dark chocolate, but what isn’t as obvious is that the source of those benefits is from a seemingly simple little bean. The cacao bean is a seed that’s found in the pod of the cacao plant, and it’s one of the planet’s most powerful foods.
Cacao has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. Its anti-inflammatory properties are well documented and are associated with lower risk of cancer and degenerative diseases. The flavanols in cacao support circulatory health and cognitive function. It is rich in the trace minerals manganese, zinc, iron, copper, and magnesium. As with all foods, the less the cacao bean is processed, the more it maintains its healing properties. This means that you’re best off consuming cacao in the form of raw cacao powder, or dried nibs, and in recipes featuring other nourishing healing foods.
In addition to cacao’s health benefits, it’s also known for its “feel good” properties. As much as munching on a chocolate bar promotes the “feel good” sentiments, studies have shown that cacao’s benefits are only available in its raw form, and the addition of dairy may inhibit or block the absorption of the antioxidants. Fortunately, we have some mouthwatering ways for you to consume raw cacao and reap all of its health benefits.
Urban Remedy features cacao in many of its ready-to-eat foods and shakes. Our Cacao Brittle is a wonderfully crunchy snack, while our Raw Cacao Mousse, made with house-made almond milk, is a decadently creamy dessert. Our Cacao Almond Milk is a dreamy dairy-free treat.
Mint Cacao Chip Smoothie
A Day before you plan to enjoy this smoothie, prepare by peeling the bananas, sealing them in a zippered plastic freezer bag or other freezer-proof container, and popping them into the freezer. Freeze a bunch of bananas at once so you’ll always have some on hand for smoothies.
1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz / 375 ml) almond milk (recipe here)
1 1/2 frozen peeled bananas
1 1/2 cups (1 1/2 oz / 45 g) baby spinach leaves
Leaves from 1 1/2 bunches fresh mint
1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons raw cacao nibs
Liquid stevia, for sweetening (optional)
In a blender, combine the almond milk, bananas, spinach, mint, vanilla, and cinnamon and blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth, about 45 seconds. Then add the cacao nibs and blend for 20 seconds, to break up the nibs and add texture. Pour into a tall glass. Sweeten with stevia to taste, if desired.
Makes 1 serving.