Hi!

 

I'm Cate Lilja, the new General Manager - Development here at PSF, and a naturopath!

 

In a recent bid to kick my daily coffee habit, as part of a detox programme, I re-engaged with one of my favourite superfoods, to give me my morning pick me up without the BIG caffeine hit.…

 

Cacao, has very little caffeine compared to coffee – a mug of hot cacao could deliver as little as 5mg compared to a whopping 200mg in an espresso (my coffee of choice). So why does cacao make me feel so good and fill that hole that the coffee has left behind?

 

Hot Cacao

 

Have you heard of the compound theobromine? It's a mild stimulant found in cacao. Theobromine has also recently been touted as having anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties – all this without the nasty side effects of caffeine like adrenal stress. Interesting fact – theobromine is toxic for pets as they lack the ability to break it down… the reason never to give chocolate to your fur babies!. Theobromine however is one of over 300 compounds found in cacao and is therefore just one reason of the many that cacao is so good for you…


Fur babies


Cacao contains a chemical called phenylethylamine – or PEA - put simply it is one of the ‘bliss’ chemicals found in cacao. PEA is produced naturally by the body when we are excited and when we fall in love. Some studies have also shown it may be helpful in relieving stress and increasing alertness.


The other ‘bliss’ chemical found in cacao is called anandamine. Your body makes anandamine in the brain where it acts as a messenger chemical having an effect on pain, appetite, mood and memory. It stimulates canabanol receptors in your brain – the same ones that THC from cannabis stimulates – and produces feelings of delight and joy (without the high and without the side effects of THC!). In fact the name is derived from a Sanskrit word ananada meaning BLISS (wiki). Much research on modern medical marijuana medicine is focused on the very same receptors.


Cacao for love :)


No matter how healthy we try to be, in today's world there is no escaping coming into contact with some toxins that act as pro-oxidants and inevitably create free radicals in our cells. We need antioxidants to scavenge these free radicals and keep our cells functioning optimally. There are many different sources of antioxidant compounds but cacao is one of the most potent!


The free radical scavenging potential of raw cacao powder is more than 20 times that of blueberries. On top of this a study comparing the antioxidant capacity of green tea, black tea, red wine and cacao showed that cacao had the greatest antioxidant potential AND the researchers concluded that therefore cacao was more beneficial for health than red wine or green tea.


What has more antioxidants?


Other studies have also shown that cacao may have beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. So by about now cacao is looking like a pretty good substitute for my morning coffee… and I still haven’t even looked at the nutrition panel!


In addition to the myriad of benefits from the phytochemicals in cacao, it is also jam packed with nutrients, especially as cacao is one of the highest food sources of magnesium. Magnesium is a vital electrolyte in our body and is essential for cellular energy production. Magnesium is also vital for the optimal functioning of our nervous system and cardiovascular system which supports the calming and energising effects of PEA and theobromine. It's also the mineral you're most likely to be deficient in, as at least 35% of the population are, and it's the first mineral chewed up by stress.




Cacao beans - powder - chocolate


Cacao is also high in sulphur, which supports detoxification in the liver and also gives shiny and strong hair and nails. Add this to the vegetable source protein and iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, calcium, riboflavin and thiamine and you have yourself one nutrient powerhouse!


Healthy hair and nails


After considering all of this I thought one cup in the morning is just not enough!! And we all know cacao can be added to smoothies and chia puddings, raw chocolate creations and desserts so I tried to come up with some ways to include more cacao into my daily life!!


I came up with this delicious and hearty refried bean recipe. I have seen several bloggers add cacao and chocolate to their beans and I admit I have always been a little wary of trying it – but it was worth it - this stuff is delicious!! The cacao adds a richness and depth to the flavour and compliments that Mexican chipotle spice beautifully!! (you could also marinate chicken in it)


So now we have breakfast lunch and dinner sorted! Enjoy…




Cacao chipotle black beans


Ingredients:


1 ½ cups dry black beans – soaked overnight (makes about 4 ½ cups cooked)
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 large onions - diced
3 cloves garlic - minced
1 – 2 chipotle chillies – finely sliced (or chipotle chilli powder)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 ½ cups chopped tomato – I used a combination of halved cherry tomatos and diced roma
2 tbsp Power Super Foods Cacao Powder


Instructions:


Place soaked beans in a pot with one of the onions and one of the garlic cloves.
Cover with an inch of water.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until beans are tender – this will take 1-2 hours depending on how long they have soaked.
Add more water throughout if necessary so the beans do not dry out.
At the end you want the beans in a thick gravy.
Once the beans are cooked through set aside.

Over medium heat, add coconut oil a frying pan and fry the second onion nad 2 cloves of garlic until the onion is translucent.
Add the cumin, chipotle, paprika and tomatoes and stir in for 1-2 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to soften.
Transfer the bean mixture into the pan and add the cacao powder.
Simmer on very low heat for at least half an hour to let the flavours combine and so that the tomato begins to fall apart.
Again add more water here when necessary so the beans don’t dry out.
You want a nice thick gravy consistency at the end of cooking.
You can simmer for longer, and the longer you leave it the taster the beans will become…

When they are ready serve with your favourite Mexican sides:
Use in tortillas to make burritos or tacos, on top of corn chips for nachos or serve with cauliflower rice and salsa!




Vegan Paleo Cacao Breakfast Bombs


Ingredients:


1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal + 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup Power Super Foods Cacao Powder
1/2 cup cashew butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch Peruvian Pink Salt
Coconut flour (or an alternative flour of your choice)


Instructions:


Preheat oven to 180C.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
First make the flax egg - mix the flax meal with 2 1/2 tablespoons water and place in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.
When the 'egg' is ready, mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Flour your hands and a flat surface with coconut flour and roll the mixture into small balls either between your hands or with one hand on the floured surface - they should be about the size of a blueberry.
Bake for 15 minutes and they are ready to eat!

You can pour milk over and enjoy while warm or allow to cool and store in an airtight container.
For crispier breakfast bombs leave the balls to sit in the cooling oven for an hour before storing.


Enjoy!