The Gift of Chocolate!
So many of our celebrations through the year focus on Chocolate as a gift!! Christmas, Valentines and now Easter is upon us!
Now, I am not complaining about this, as chocolate features quite highly in our kitchen and we are all big fans of a chocolaty treat…. Maybe this year you might like try the tasty health benefits of raw chocolate as your Easter gift, if you haven’t already.
At Easter we often tend to rely upon shop bought commercial chocolate gifts, especially for children. These are loaded up with too much sugar and then there is the dairy products and added colour and flavourings of the treats inside too.
The good news is chocolate can be good for you when it’s raw!
Raw chocolate has become more and more popular in recent years and is much more accessible, but do you know why it is better for our health?? Here are a few snippets to keep you on track and a delicious Easter chocolate recipe below! I can’t believe how good this was!!
It is said that raw cacao is the highest natural food sources of magnesium…. A mineral that many of us lack from your diet as it is deficient in soils around the world. Used in over 300 different pathways in the body, magnesium is essential for energy production, a healthy brain and nervous system. But also essential for our muscles, building strong bones and teeth. It is also a great support for healthy blood pressure.
Cacao is a source of iron, which builds the blood and helps to transport oxygen around our body, as well as potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and selenium.
Cacao can also be high in flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity. Raw cacao has been linked with benefits including increasing the good form of cholesterol (HDL) in our blood and good heart health. Also helpful for lowering blood pressure and even improving vascular function in patients with congestive heart failure. Primarily, all of these benefits are linked to the antioxidants contained in the cacao.
In addition, cacao also contains a compound called phenylethylamine or PEA for short! This compound is thought to elevate mood and support energy and is said to be one of the reasons that many people love chocolate! And feel good when eating it as it triggers endorphins and pleasurable neuro-chemicals.
Polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants as green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in dark colored fruits) and catechins (found in green tea) protect our cells from premature oxidation or destruction and can keep us looking and feeling younger longer.
There is of course no added milk or sugar to raw cacao, so is suitable for those who are lactose or casein-sensitive or following a low-sugar diet.
Raw Chocolate Easter Baskets – Recipe
Enjoy these little raw chocolate baskets with a filling of your choice this Easter. Easy to make, get the children involved and let them see how good chocolate can be! Take my word for it – you won’t be disappointed!
- 300 g slivered almonds, toasted
- 200 gram (2 cups) shredded coconut, toasted
- 100 gram (1 cup) almond or hazelnut meal
- 200 gram (1 cup) raw cacao butter or raw, extra virgin coconut oil (or a combination of 100 gram of each), melted
- 50 grams (1/2 cup) cacao powder
- 2-4 tablespoons of sweetener such as maple syrup, honey or coconut blossom sugar or syrup (you can adjust the sweetness to your taste)
- Toast your almonds and coconut.
- Melt the cacao butter or coconut oil over a very low heat, either in a small pot or Thermomix (temp 50, speed 1) until just melted.
- Add the cacao powder and rice syrup, mix until well combined and the syrup is dissolved.
- Combine the slivered almonds, coconut, and nut meal in a bowl. Add the raw chocolate and stir until well combined.
- If you would like a darker nest, add a tablespoon or two more cacao.
- Line a muffin tin and press one tablespoon of the mix into the base. Add another tablespoon (approx.) and press into the sides to make a small basket.
- Place in the freezer immediately to set. Once set, remove the muffin casing and keep in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve.
- filled with small chocolate easter eggs
- filled with double cream or cashew nut cream and berries for an Easter dessert (my plan for Easter Sunday dessert)
- make an easy berry coulis by pureeing any red berry with a tablespoon of water or cream (or your favorite liquor for an adults version). Push it through a sieve to remove the seeds
Replace the almonds with more shredded coconut and/or toasted sunflower seeds and the almond/hazelnut meal can be replaced with with desiccated coconut.