As a comfort food, what could be better than chocolate? It’s one of the nation’s favourite foods and recently we’ve been told it’s good for us. Dark chocolate in particular has high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols and flavanols. Flavanols have been shown to be beneficial for heart health by helping to lower blood pressure, maintain the elasticity of blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
If you’re after the taste of chocolate without the unhealthy added sugar and with more antioxidants, raw cacao powder which is super rich in flavanols does the job perfectly. Unlike beans that are made into cocoa, which are heated to high temperatures when they are roasted, raw cacao powder is made from cold pressed beans which means the nutrients and beneficial plant chemicals are retained intact. Cacao powder is a rich source of fibre and protein and contains iron, magnesium and potassium.
My preferred cacao powder is Aduna Super-Cacao which is made from specially-selected, high-flavanol beans. It contains double the amount of flavanols of regular cacao. Aduna are a very ethical company whose mission is to create sustainable livelihoods for small scale producers in Africa. For a 15% discount off the retail price quote code pc15 at the end of your order.
You can add cacao powder to smoothies to make a chocolate milkshake . Kids will like these too and they are a good source of protein and calcium. It can also be sprinkled onto porridge, made into a hot chocolate drink (mix the powder to a paste first with water to avoid lumps) or in natural yoghurt or you can make a delicious gluten and dairy free dessert by blending cacao powder with a splash of water, some coconut cream and a few drops of pure stevia if extra sweetness is needed Leave it to set in the fridge for 15 minutes.
One small caveat, if you are someone who is sensitive to stimulants you may find raw cacao a little too kicky so best not to use it in these circumstances.
CACAO CASHEW SMOOTHIE (serves 1)
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon cashew nut butter
- 2 tablespoons milled flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- 200mls Alpro plain unsweetened
- Half a very small banana
Blend until smooth for minimum time possible. For children, use half quantities and use their preferred milk, adding extra to dilute the shake. If the child has a sensitive tummy, start on one teaspoon of the seed mix at first. Seeds are a great source of the omega fats which are hard to obtain in kids diets and a good source of fibre for their intestinal health.
- 400 calories
- 15g protein
- 16g fibre
- 28g fat (7g saturated fat)
- 15g carbs
- 8g sugar (naturally occurring)