Chocolate has conquered the world, becoming a favorite flavor of many. We give it as a present for special occasions such as birthdays, when we want to make our beloved ones happy and when we want to treat our kids or ourselves.
Without a doubt chocolate is the most popular candy, it makes us happy and brings people together.
Still, most of us are not aware that lots of the chocolates we buy are not really chocolate or that real chocolate has nutritional and healing properties instead of being addictive and harmful to our health.
So what is actually the commercial chocolate that most of us know?
We all grew up eating commercial chocolate, made of roasted and processed cacao beans. It is painful to see what the food industry does with the most nutritional food in the world, fabricates an unhealthy product without any nutritional value. During that process, all vitamins and minerals of the cacao are lost, on top of that white sugar, preserved milk products, stabilizers and artificial flavors (to give it the “cacao flavor”) are added.
It is important to understand that those chocolates, that we have been eating most of our life are in fact a mutation, a manipulation of the pure cacao bean and are far (or nothing like) the original product.
These days, the food industry is so “developed” that more processes and chemical products are involved in the process, to the point that we can find chocolates without any cacao.
How they “kill” the cacao - The process of “chocolate” making
During the conventional production, the cacao beans suffer a number of processes at high temperatures (from 130 to 400 degrees) that actually kills most of the nutritional properties this amazing fruit has.
First the cacao is roasted and then slowly grinded to get the cacao paste.
During the making process, white sugar is added along with powdered milk (which enables the absorption of antioxidants found in cacao beans), preservatives, stabilizers and even worst, sometimes artificial hormones.
The only good thing that we can tell about this sad process is that it makes us (conscious or unconsciously) want to try real chocolate and once you try it, you just won’t go back to crave the artificial, processed substitute.
What is real chocolate? - (Raw)
Real chocolate is the result of pure, raw cacao beans that haven’t been roasted nor heated – this kind of chocolate is considered a superfood, that’s why it taste so amazing, has healing properties, nourishes and provides the highest amount of nutritional values that can be found in cacao beans.
Usually this kind of chocolates derives from fair trade, organically grown, “criollo” beans – the best quality of all varieties and only 1% of the cacao bean production in the whole world.
So what are the differences between raw chocolate and commercial chocolate?
The fundamental difference between commercial chocolate and raw chocolate lays on the temperatures and ingredients used in the process:
Raw chocolate is only heated under less than 42 celsius degrees. From harvesting, to drying and processing of the cacao beans, the lowest temperatures are kept to preserve the quality, nutritional values and healing properties of the cacao fruit.
Also, in raw chocolate you will only find 3 or 4 ingredients (cacao powder, cacao paste, cacao butter and natural sweetener) instead of the endless list of ingredients found in commercial chocolate – usually milk, soy, vegetable oil (not cacao butter) white sugar and artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors and preservatives.
In term of taste – raw chocolate taste is richer and more refreshing. It is tasteful, concentrated and powerful, so that a small amount is enough to satisfy and provide the best nutrition.
What is the nutritional importance found in those differences?
Living enzymes are found in raw chocolate, they were kept during the drying and the making process. The rich arrangement of enzymes aids the digestive system, promotes the absorption of vitamins and minerals found in cacao beans and improves our overall health.
Research has found that raw chocolate is the best source for magnesium. Also large amounts of chromium, zinc and iron are found and when not heated, contains the highest concentration of antioxidants.
Raw cacao is rich in sulfur an anti-aging and anti acne mineral, proven to be effective in the treatment of dry skin and wrinkles. It makes the skin glow from the inside. Chromium inhibits the sugar craves and helps to weight loss. Commercial chocolate, on the other hand, made of cacao beans heated at high temperatures, has a low content of minerals and a high one of caffeine.
Most of commercial chocolates are sweetened with refined sugar and corn syrup known to be harmful and addictive. Raw chocolate is naturally sweetened with maple syrup, coconut sugar… (see my article on natural sweeteners).
Natural sweeteners contain low glycemic levels and they are the best to aid absorption, keep a good metabolism and maximize the nutritional values of the chocolate.
Milk is one of the main ingredients found in commercial chocolate, mostly as emulsifier. Milk is known for being an allergenic and enable the absorption of minerals. Raw chocolate contains cocoa butter rich in fatty acids which gives it a milky, creamy texture. It is also possible to add coconut or almond milk for extra creaminess.
How to easily make real chocolate at home?
⅓ cup raw cacao butter
⅔ cup cacao raw cacao paste
finely chop the cacao paste,
melt in a double boiler (bain marie)
2 Tbsp coconut oil (cold pressed, preferably organic)
1 pinch of salt and chilli
1 tsp maca powder (superfood, enhance fertility), optional
Mix all the ingredients. Add chopped pistacchios into a silicone mold, pour the liquid mixture
and freeze for 15 minutes. Store in refrigerator.
Umina Kedmi author of the best-seller “Superfood – gate to a new kitchen”
Holistic Health Advisor, Graduate from the Integrative Nutrition Institute, in New york and expert on Health Nutrition, Superfood and Juice Cleanse.