Saturday, February 2, 2013

Radically Natural Recipe: Indulgent, Nourishing, Healing (GAPS-friendly) Cacao Bites (aka Chocolates!)

I have the best husband in the world.  I'm sure many of you ladies would say the same (that you have the best husband in the world, not that mine is, LOL), but I need to sing the praises of my man.  I happen to be 13 weeks pregnant.  I suffered a miscarriage in September, but to my shock found myself pregnant again soon after.  I have a history of infertility (my stint with veganism didn't help), miscarriages and rather uncomfortable pregnancies.  So while we are ecstatic about this newest child, we are being cautiously optimistic at this point.  My pregnancy this time is typical of my other successful pregnancies, though, meaning I'm sick, sick, sick (9 month stomach flu, anyone?)...but on the bright side, I'm keeping most of my food down, which is an improvement over past pregnancies (thanks to GAPS).  

Anyway, lllooOOOonnnngGGgg intro here, sorry...the point is that dear hubby asked last week what he could do to help lift my spirits amongst all my tummy misery.  I jokingly told him that if he could find me some raw cacao truffles made only with pure Real Food ingredients of cacao, honey, herbs, spices and salt, he'd be my hero.  Well, he already was, but the man never fails to amaze me.  My sweetie surprised me this week with a box of nothing less than the finest, most delicious, healthy, Real Food raw cacao truffles!

If you are in the mood to splurge, please check out Zorba's raw chocolates and order some nourishing cacao goodness for yourself!  Oregon chocolatier Todd Bjornson is as passionate about the health benefits of raw cacao as he is about crafting delicious, beautiful and nutritious Real Food chocolates.  The coconut and rose truffles are amazing.  I'm sure they are all fabulous, but those are the ones I nibbled and instantly fell in love with!

But if you're like me, and you want to be able to make your own Real Food chocolates, any time of the day or night, I've got a recipe for you.  OK, these are not soft-centered flavor-nuanced truffles, but they are pretty good little chocolate bites (if I do say so myself).  Similar recipes abound on the web, and the following is my version.

Who doesn't like chocolate, right? (OK, I'm sure you're out there, but don't rain on my parade, LOL.)  This simple recipe guarantees guilt-free, healthy, even medicinal chocolate that will delight the palette of any family member.  (If you are in the advanced stages of healing on the full GAPS diet, this recipe should work for you; test a small amount on yourself and see how you respond.)

Full of good fats, nutrient-rich raw cacao, potassium-rich raw honey, gut-friendly cinnamon and the optional healing/nutrient herb or berry powders, these homemade dark chocolates are indulgent and comforting, as well as rich...a little bit goes a long way!  Hubby and I have an affinity for "Mexican chocolate," hence the cinnamon and cayenne.  But, as always, I encourage you to experiment with this recipe and its ratios...make it your own!  

Raw Cacao Bites

[I use a digital scale to measure ounce ingredients]

5 oz. organic cacao butter 

3 oz. raw cacao powder 
2 tsp. organic cinnamon powder
1 tsp. organic vanilla extract (make your own)
2 Tb. + raw honey (add more to taste...I like fairly dark chocolate)

Flavor and nutrient options (add to above):

Coarse mineral rich salt (such as Alaea or pink Himalayan)
pinch (I'm not kidding) of high heat unit organic cayenne powder
1-2 Tb. butter (this adds a creamy carmel taste/texture...melt with cacao butter)

*The addition of an herbal powder will add botanical medicine and increased nutrients to your chocolates.  You can add more than the amount I suggested, but beware that the addition of too much powder will make your chocolates grainy.  Also, some herbal powders are quite bitter, so you may need to add more honey to taste.  I like to use camu camu for its vitamin C content, or bilberry for its vascular healing properties.  The choices are endless.  Check Mountain Rose Herbs or Live Superfoods for herbal powder ideas.  (Live Superfoods also carries raw cacao powder and cacao butter.)


Gently melt cacao butter over very low heat in double boiler.  Add powders, vanilla and honey, and whisk smooth.  When everything is well incorporated and liquefied, pour into silicone molds (at the bottom of which you have sprinkled a bit of the coarse salt), allow to cool at room temperature or place in refrigerator.  Do not place in freezer, as you will cause undesirable bloom to develop on your chocolates.  

When heating your ingredients, stay under 118º to keep it raw and maintain optimum nutrients (you can check with an instant thermometer).  Why raw cacao?  Well check out its nutrient profile: Raw cacao is high in magnesium, anti-oxidants(!!!), and wonderfully healing hormone enhancers.

Rather than cacao butter, you can use coconut oil, but I've tried both and prefer the cacao butter for taste and texture.  I find that my coconut oil is rich in coconut flavor, sometimes overwhelming the chocolate essence, and coconut oil does melt in your hands faster than cacao butter.  Coconut oil also has a slightly greasier, and less pleasant "toothsome" texture than does cacao butter.  But you can try either fat, or mix them...your preference.  I also don't use carob powder because it is a starchy legume (GAPS illegal), lacks the true flavor of chocolate, and is deficient in those powerful raw cacao anti-oxidants.

Yes, cacao contains theobromine, an alkaloid that has stimulating properties similar to but milder than caffeine.  But theobromine has beneficial effects, such as enhancing circulation, and does not contain the adrenal-draining and addictive properties of caffeine.  In my opinion, moderate amounts of raw cacao are nourishing and medicinally beneficial.  I don't let my kids overdo it, just as I limit their intake of raw honey.  These Real Foods are nutrient-rich, but can be stimulating and should be monitored as a minimal part of the diet.  But we all need a treat, and if we're going to treat ourselves we should do it with delicious, nutritious, body beneficial Real Foods!

[Linked at Kelly's Real Food Wednesday carnival...check out the other great posts!]