Those of you that know me and love my products, know that I'm a big lover of cacao! Check out my 'Your Food' page to read about why it's so good for you.
But did you know that as well as boosting both your mind and body, a daily dose of cacao in it's various forms has many other health benefits?
It’s easier than you think to be creative with cacao. It can be added to everyday meals to supercharge them, or you can make sweet treats with it, such as this Superfood Power Protein Bars recipe at the end of this blog post.
Whatever takes your fancy, I'd love to inspire you with five quick and easy ideas for a nutrition-filled treat or snack.
Here are five simple ways to use cacao in your diet:
#1 Make yourself a lovely bedtime drink with cacao
Add almond or any other plant-based milk to a saucepan and heat gently. Once it's warm, add a tablespoon of unsweetened cacao, and a sweetener of your choice (agave nectar or coconut sugar are great), and stir until everything's incorporated. Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!
Just because you're trying to stay healthy, it doesn't mean you have to make it boring either! You can dress this beauty up with dairy-free spray cream, and vegetarian/vegan marshmallows, both readily available at health food shops and some supermarkets. Because of it's mood-enhancers and blood pressure-lowering qualities, this little baby will help you sleep - literally like a baby!
#2 Treat yourself to a chocolate and banana post-workout smoothie
After a workout, your body needs to replace the nutrients, protein, and electrolytes lost in your sweat session. That’s where a tasty post-workout smoothie can help you get those get nutrients back in your body. Smoothies are a natural pairing for high quality cacao powder, as the sweetness of the smoothie masks the sometimes bitter flavour of the cacao.
Bananas are incredible in smoothies! They add a sweet flavour while also delivering potassium to your cells. Along with nut butters, they're full of protein, which is essential for muscle growth, and adding post-workout protein is important to help repair and rebuild your muscle tissue. Cacao is abundant in magnesium and antioxidants, which also gives your post-workout shake high antioxidant levels, helping speed muscle recovery.
Try blending a frozen banana (their frosty creaminess is downright indulgent), nut butter (almond or peanut), plant-based milk, and your favourite fruit juice together. Add 1 tablespoon of cacao powder for a rich, chocolatey burst of flavour! Enjoy!
#3 Kick start your day with some healthy chocolate porridge
Chocolate for breakfast, who could say no to that? Many of the popular pre-packed cereals are notoriously full of the kind of rubbish you don't want to prime your body with for a great start to the day. One solution is to make your own variation on them, adding what you love and leaving out the unnecessary.
Chocolate for breakfast, who could say no to that? Add a teaspoon of cacao to your favourite unsweetened cereal, and to sweeten add a ripe mashed banana. Cereals and grains such as oats have their fare share of protein already, but you can also sprinkle in some of your favourite protein powder for a boost and to help you stay fuller for longer. With potassium from your banana, antioxidants and magnesium from the cacao, and protein from your grains, you'll be unstoppable for the day!
#4 Make rich cacao brownies
Who doesn't love a brownie! The brownies you buy pre-packaged will have nothing on this natural cacao powder version though! Just swap raw cacao powder for the cocoa powder in your favourite brownie recipe. Be mindful that you may have to adjust the sugar or add a sugar alternative to counter the intensity of the chocolatey cacao powder. These rich "better for you" brownies will be the ultimate treat for chocoholics who need a healthy kick!
#5 Bake your own healthier treats with cacao powder!
A great way to get more cacao powder into your diet is to sub it for cocoa whenever you can. So, all your favourite cookies, brownies, granola bars, anywhere you would normally use cocoa powder, opt for cacao instead. So, now's the perfect time to have a go at making a cacao powder version of your favourite chocolate dessert!
Here's a link to one of my favourite recipes that uses cacao, in my blog post "Sugar Free Doesn't Have To Be Taste Free."
So there you go, five easy ways to satisfy your love of chocolate, and get it into your diet in a healthier way, without the unnecessary nasties. Most of the major supermarkets now stock cacao, and even the discount supermarkets are in on the act. So there's no reason why you can't indulge on your next shopping trip. If you end up falling in love with it, like I have and you're going to be using a big quantity of it, you'd be better buying it from bulk discounters like Costco or Amazon.
You're welcome & enjoy!