What is Cacao? Powder, Butter, Nibs, and The Magic of Chocolate

Let's talk about chocolate.

Chocolate as most Americans know it is actually a blend of milk, sugar, and cacao.

Wait, why did I list milk and sugar first?  In most chocolate-based candy bars, they make up far more of the bar than you'd like to imagine.

What is Cacao?

Now, you know what milk and sugar is, but what the heck is cacao?  Cacao is the dried and fermented seed of Theobroma cacao, a tropical evergreen tree native to Central and South America.

You'll probably guess that "cacao" is where we eventually got the word "chocolate" from, but what's Theobroma mean?  Yep, "food of the gods."

What makes up that food of the gods?  What's in a cacao (or cocoa) bean?  Here at Paleo Treats, we use all 3 types of products you can get out of a cacao bean.

If you just grind up the dried beans, you get cacao nibs. Those are the dark little chunks in our Mac Attack.  While they look like chocolate chips, they have zero sugar or other additives, and without the sweetening influence of honey are usually more than your average chocolate lover bargains for.

Cacao butter is the fat of the seed.  It has a delicious flavor when heated, and is the base for our Paleo chocolate.

Cacao powder is what's left of the seed after you extract the fat (cacao butter), and it also has that powerful chocolate flavor.

Is Cacao Paleo?

As a seed, cacao can be considered safe for the Paleo diet and a healthy addition to any diet. In the strictest sense (being available more than 10,000 years ago) there's no solid evidence yet, but for now we haven't found any downsides to eating cacao when we're going Paleo.  

Is Cacao healthy?

Pure cacao offers incredible health benefits which will keep you strong and healthy while gluten bingers are lying on their couch suffering from another blood sugar spike. 

If you’re already on the Paleo diet, take a break from your next set of 500 push ups to check out these cacao health benefits. If you’re still a grain eater, put down the pasta and see what you’ve been missing out on for so long.

  • Antioxidant Explosion – Adding a little cacao to a recipe, or eating a treat like our Cacao Now will slam your body with several great antioxidants.  People often talk about tea and red wine for their high levels of antioxidants, but cacao kicks the crap out of either of these two drinks for both taste and health benefits.
  • Heart Benefits – Cacao has a ton of heart healthy properties which will keep your heart pumping strong for years.  It can get your blood flowing like a river and help clear out blocked arteries like dynamite.
  • Eff Cancer – Everyone hates cancer, but most people sit on their asses all day downing cancer-causing foods and drinks like there’s no tomorrow. Those of us on the Paleo diet actually give a crap about preventing cancer, which is why we put cacao on all sorts of things. With dozens of cancer fighting properties you can say, “F – CANCER” and actually mean it.

How can I use Cacao?

Cacao is mainly a dessert type ingredient that is as flexible as it is delicious and nutritious. 

You can drop it in with your morning shake for an instant nutrition blast.

You can stir it in with your morning coffee for a straight mocha, or you can mix cacao powder with a spoonful of honey and some cacao butter for a melt-on-strawberries favorite dessert.

Finally, you could just head over to the store where we sprinkle goji berries on our Cacao Now Paleo chocolate bars for a deliciously healthy treat!

Whatever you do, enjoy the heck out of one of the original super healthy gluten free cookie ingredients!