Cooking with Chocolate the Healthy Way To Feel & Look Great

When I was growing up, many of my friends considered breakfast cereal and cartoons a Saturday morning ritual.  Be me?  I didn't particularly care for either. Now, though, I do make an exception for a good granola. One homemade with lots of crunch and goodness. One that can be eaten any time, not just for breakfast.  One that will not only satisfy, but nourish at the same time. Yes, I can make room for a ritual like that - and especially if it contains chocolate!

Some forms of chocolate are a health food! The high antioxidant level contained in cacao (used to make chocolate) may be able to reduce the risk of many diseases. Tap here to find loads of other health benefits, a tasty recipe, and why you want to indulge in this favorite flavor often. TheHealthMinded.com


Yup! Just to make it a little naughty, there is chocolate in the granola I am sharing today.  But, I mean that in only the very best way as this recipe uses raw cacao, (the seed from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made) and it is wickedly good-tasting and wickedly good for you, too. If you scan on down, you will see exactly what I mean.





High Antioxidant Rankings for Cacao and Some of Its Variations

You may think kale deems supreme (and it is great stuff indeed)!  But, I think you may want to consider this: Some rankings like the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), a method of measuring antioxidants in biological samples, rates raw cacao and unsweetened cocoa powder in the top 10 of many nutritious foods.  The high antioxidant level contained in cacao may be able to repair the damage caused by free radicals and reduce the risk of many diseases.

That's good news for chocoholics out there, but you just need to make sure it is the right form.  If you indulge in a chocolate bar, dark is best (cacao content of at least 70 percent or higher) and ditch the high sugar content while you are at it.





5 More Health Benefits of Cacao  

As if that ORAC rating wasn't enough to convince you regarding cacao and some of its chocolate variations, hold on.  There is more good news:

1. Cacao may be a fountain of youth.  Many of the antioxidants present in cacao are flavonoids, including anthocyanidin - great for the prevention of free radical damage and boosting collagen protection - a strong anti-ager.

Don't miss this:  Here are some other daily habits to keep your body and mind youthful.

2.  Your outlook may improve.  The neurotransmitters that are increased when you consume cacao may promote a sense of well-being.  Perhaps there lies the reason for the piece of chocolate on your pillow at fine hotels.

3.  Your might like your lab results.  Cacao may be an aide to cardiovascular disease as it may block the oxidation of undesirable LDL cholesterol.

Don't miss this:  Here is another magical way to keep your cholesterol in check.


4.  It acts as a great protector for your nervous system.  Cacao is high in resveratrol, a potent antioxidant, known for its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier to help protect your nervous system.

5.  It is a complicated but beneficial mix.  Cacao contains over 300 important compounds, including protein, fat, certain B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper.





Raw Cacao and Its Important Distinction From Cocoa Powder 

Make no mistake, raw cacao, nibs and roasted cocoa powder are all nutrient giants in the antioxidant world. But, before we get to the recipe, let me tell you why I choose organic, raw cacao as a star ingredient.

Cocoa powder may look identical to raw cacao, but is not the same.  Here is why: raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans - unroasted is the key word here. The process keeps the living enzymes in the bean. Conversely, cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures, and it is this roasting process that changes the molecular structure of the bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the nutritional level. It is still high though, but not as high as its unroasted counterpart.

In this recipe, you are cooking the raw cacao, but not at the high temperatures that cocoa powder is when roasted. The raw cacao, once sold only in speciality shops, can be found at many grocery stores and makes a great addition to smoothies, hot chocolate and when baking, too! Just make sure it is organic.


This chocolate granola makes a great super healthy, portable, filling, anytime snack.  And the smell, when it is baking?  It is down right bewitching! Tap here for the easy steps to serve an energy-boosting, no guilt, all good chocolate granola. (TheHealthMinded.com) #recipe #healthy


Recipe: No Guilt, All Good Cacao Granola 

This granola makes a great portable, filling, anytime snack.  And the smell, when it is baking?  It is down right bewitching!


Gather
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup raw organic honey (start with 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened organic raw cacao powder*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 3 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds 
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup organic cacao nibs
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried fruit of choice: The sour of dried cherries or cranberries are great, but dried bananas, strawberries or raisins could be nice. too.
*Note: Consumer Labs also found that some raw cacao powder to be contaminated with heavy metals. Look for fair traded, organic varieties.


Now do this:
  • Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
  • Warm the coconut oil until it melts by placing it in a small saucepan on a very low flame for just a few seconds or even just near the warm stove.  It melts quickly! Take off the heat.
  • To the warm and melted, but not hot, coconut oil, add the cacao powder, salt, vanilla and honey. Mix until smooth. Taste and adjust for sweetness.
  • In a very large mixing bowl add the oats, almonds, cacao nibs, flax and coconut. Mix well.
  • Pour the the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture and combine until well coated.
  • Add the granola to a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread to a thin and even layer.
  • Bake the granola for 25-45 minutes. But keep an eye on it and check every 5 minutes or so after the 20 minute mark.  Shuffle it around a bit, too, with a spoon. (The goal is to get the granola crisp but not burned or browned.  Better to undercook it and put it back in the oven a bit later to crisp up some more than burn it!)
  • Cool the granola.
  • Add the dried fruit of choice and mix well. 
  • Store in airtight container.

Have you tried raw cacao powder in place of cocoa powder yet? What has been your experience?

ORAC Source: US department of Agriculture/Journal of American Chemical Society
Note: This post appeared previously at THM, but was updated and enhanced with more current information. 
Featured on Urban Naturale Blog Hop.




19 comments:

  1. Hurray, chocolate! Wicked-good, indeed! :D

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  2. Life is grand, huh? Chocolate = healthy eats!

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  3. I love this! I had no idea that the difference in antioxidants was that much between raw and roasted cacao/cocoa! And you are spot on Chocolate is a mood booster :) I have learned that since moving to Belgium and indulge in a square (or two!) of dark chocolate every evening!

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  4. Lucky you to have access to the beautiful selection of chocolates and many other things in Belgium! Lovely place! Your evening ritual is one healthy habit you have started that most people would not resist! Thanks for stopping by!!

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  5. I always have cacao nibs at home. I love the taste and yes, it's great.
    I learn so much from your post, Lori. Thank you for joining #TipTuesday!

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    1. That is great news on both parts - that you enjoy cacao nibs and its health benefits and that you learned something new here at THM! Thanks for taking the time to tell me, Debbie. I really appreciate it.

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  6. I love idea of chocolate in my granola. I've just recently started reading more about flax seed benefits too. All such wonderful ingredients. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty

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    1. Happy to join, Vickie! Hope you try the recipe as it does have lots of healthy goodies in there.

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  7. Thanks for all the good information on cacao organic. I cannot tolerate very much chocolate even though I love it. Oh well I make up for it with organic coffee :)
    Thanks for sharing this on Fridays Blog Booster Party #23
    Kathleen

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    1. Well, it is good you listen to your body and know what is not right for you, Kathleen! There are lots of other nutrient dense choices! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I am going to make this for Valentina... she loves granola and I would like her to eat a healthier version. Maybe if we make it together she would be more willing to try it out. Those regular granola bars have way too much sugar in them, I am trying to cut her down.

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    1. Good for you on cutting the sugar, Launna. It is amazing how our taste buds become so immune to it and after you cut back, you will notice how overly sweet so many things will taste! Hope Valentina likes the granola!

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  9. I love the idea that I can have something that resembles chocolate. lol I love anything oats so this is up my street. I have already pinned it to pinterest to test out. Sounds delicious. I have been trying to eat healthier and cleaner. It's hard to break old habits. Not going to lie but doing good so far. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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    1. Oh this is chocolate in the true form! You won't miss out on the chocolate flavor here. Do try it , Jenny, and let me know what you think!

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  10. So yummy! I am a huge chocolate lover! Who can resist these healthy and delectable ingredients! I am so delighted that you shared the benefits of chocolate and your Cacao Granola with us at the Plant-Based Potluck Party Link Up. I'm pinning and sharing.

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    1. Glad you are on board - enjoy this healthy treat, Deborah!

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    2. Glad you are on board - enjoy this healthy treat, Deborah!

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  11. Chocolate AND health benefits? That's a win in my book any day! It took years for my husband to convince me that dark tasted better than milk, but he finally succeeded. Now I just need to discipline myself to not use the health benefits as a license to over-indulge every chance I get. Moderation...moderation... ;-) Congratulations on winning #ThePinterestGame with this post! ~~Wendy, co-host

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    1. Yes - moderation is key. Darn it! Thanks Wendy for your kind words and I didn't even know I won! Thanks for hosting.

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