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Cacao Enriches our Lives

What is Cacao and where does it come from?

Theobroma cacao is a small fruit tree species that thrives in tropical climates. The tree produces beautiful pods that grow off of the trunk, ranging in color from red, orange, yellow, purple and brown. The pods contain cacao seeds, encased by a milky white membrane that tastes sweet and tangy. The seeds are processed by drying and fermenting for multiple days before being roasted, shells removed, and ground into a paste that can be eaten raw or used for beverages or delicious concoctions.  

 

The cacao tree is native to the Amazon Basin, and was cultivated by Mesoamerican societies from Mexico through Central America and the Amazon rainforest in South America. Indigenous cultures consumed cacao more than 4,000 years ago, using it in spiritual ceremonies, as a medicinal drink mixed with spices, and even as currency. The Mayans considered cacao to be the “food of the Gods” and held festivals celebrating the spirit of the plant. Chocolate was first introduced to Europe through the Spanish visiting the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in 1519, and it began to blossom in presence throughout the world afterwards. 

 

How can cacao be used?

Cacao is incredibly versatile! It can be used in a ceremonial cacao beverage, hot chocolate, chocolates, truffles, brownies, baked goods, in smoothies, nut butters, chocolate sauce, as an acai bowl topping, mousse...or enjoy a piece cut off the block in its raw natural state for a heart opening energy boost! Check out our recipes page for inspiration.

 

What is a cacao ceremony?

A cacao ceremony is an opportunity for people to come together to sit with the spirit of cacao and connect with mother earth. Cacao has been used for centuries to bring about euphoric states of being; helping people to connect to the pure love essence of their heart and release negative emotions. Cacao allows us to go deep within, opening gateways of the heart and soul. Cacao can be integrated into many kinds of ceremonies with positive intention, and may include  songs, prayers, creative expression, dancing…the possibilities are expansive as your mind.  

 

My cacao has strange patterns on it, why!?

You may find that your cacao begins to look like it has psychedelic mold growing on it and think it has gone rancid. Fear not! This is a completely safe and natural process that happens to cacao (or any chocolate) that has not been tempered. Tempering is the process of heating, cooling, and agitating chocolate in order to control the melting point of it once it has solidified into its desired shape. When cacao has not been tempered, it can begin to bloom, and the blooming patterns may appear differently based on the environment the cacao is in. There are two types of blooming that can occur. Fat bloom is simply when the cacao butter in the chocolate migrates and creates surface patterns, and a sugar bloom happens when the sugar separates out of the fats. Blooming creates beautiful and strange, circular, flat or bubbly mandala patterns on the cacao that may appear white or darker than the general color of the cacao. 

 

How should I store my cacao?

Cacao has a shelf life of a few years if it is kept well contained and out of the sun and heat. If you will be taking time to use your cacao you may want to put in a jar or sealable bag to improve its longevity.

 

Health Benefits

Uplifting to Body and Spirit

Cacao produces energizing and euphoric feelings of the body and spirit, and it contains little to no caffeine. The uplifting properties of cacao come from theobromine, a gentle stimulant that provides energy without the crash. Theobromine increases blood flow and the release of dopamine, and may be accountable for the aphrodisiac qualities of cacao. Cacao is full of magnesium, which brings about vibrant energy levels and helps the brain to function with increased clarity and focus. Cacao suppresses cortisol and reduces stress. 

 

Mood Boosting Neurotransmitters

Cacao contains various “bliss chemicals” that uplift our mood. It is a good source of tryptophan, 

an amino acid which helps to alleviate anxiety, depression, pain and memory loss. Tryptophan is a necessary ingredient for the brain to produce serotonin, the happiness chemical in our body that increases our mood and fends off stress.  

It also contains phenethylamine and anandamide. Phenethylamine is the chemical we produce when we are in love; it boosts our awareness and ability to focus, and anandamide is the bliss molecule that makes us feel good. 

 

Mineral Rich

Cacao contains, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and magnesium. 

It is one of the most iron-filled food sources we can consume, packing in 7.3mg of iron per 100g. (Spinach packs in 3.6 and beef at 2.5mg.)

 

Antioxidants

Cacao has an ORAC score of 98,000 per 100g; ORAC scores measure the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause damage to our cells and tissues. (For comparison, blueberries are known as a high ORAC food and they score at a mere 2,400.)

 

And More…

Cacao provides a source of healthy fats for the body, and contains fiber and magnesium which are optimum for our digestive health. It is an anti-inflammatory, reduces blood pressure, and contains flavonoids that increase blood flow to the skin’s surface, promoting cell regeneration that brings about radiant skin. It is good for the physical health of the heart and reduces chances of heart disease. 

 

Happiness

Cacao contains endorphins which make us happy. It tastes delicious, its loved all over the world and is one of the most ancient medicines on the earth for uplifting mind, body, and spirit. It is amazing alone, with a loved one, or shared with many. It helps to bring us together, family and tribe, and brings smiles to our faces and in our hearts. Isn’t feeling so much love the best benefit of all?

*These statements have not been approved by the FDA

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