It’s Chocolate Week here in the UK, so happy chocolate eating everybody!
Those of you who know me will be aware that I’ve become just a teensy weensy bit obsessed with raw chocolate. For most of my life, I’ve never been that bothered about chocolate… but all this changed when I experienced my first piece of raw chocolate. As soon as I popped it into my mouth, I could feel its magical properties taking hold. I was hooked! I immediately went home and googled ‘raw chocolate’ to see what I could find out about the wonder food. I also got myself a copy of David Wolfe & Shazzie’s ‘Naked Chocolate’.
Have you ever wondered where cacao beans comes from? Well, they come from the beautiful Theobrama Cacao.
(c) Luis Ovalles
I love the cocoa pods. Aren’t they beautiful! Here’s a shot of them at various stages of ripening.
And here’s a peek at the cacao beans inside one of those beautiful pods:
(c) US Department of Agriculture
And what did I discover from my research? Well, listen carefully chocolate lovers… raw chocolate is SUPER GOOD FOR YOU! It’s absolutely brimming with nutrients, which explains why my body felt like it was ‘zinging’ after one small mouthful. Here’s a list of some of the important nutrients found in raw chocolate:
- Magnesium (important for a healthy heart, muscle relaxation, strong bones, growth and repair, brain function. Sadly it’s the most deficient mineral in the diet)
- Vitamins B and C
- Antioxidant flavonols
- Phenylethylamine (PEA) (dubbed the ‘love chemical’, PEA seems to help create feelings of attraction, excitement and euphoria. PEA is noticeably abundant in the brains of happy people )
- Anandamide (known as the ‘bliss chemical’. Anandamide is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ meaning ‘bliss’)
- Serotonin, Tryptophan and Dopamine (also powerful mood-enhancing nutrients)
The above is just a fraction of the nutrients contained in raw chocolate. It truly is a ‘super food’!
Raw Cacao Beans (c) David Monniaux
Cacao has been dubbed ‘Nature’s Prozac’ as it contains three neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine and phenylethylamine (PEA) – which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of well-being.
It has also been suggested that eating raw chocolate can help with weight control as it diminishes appetite. I’ve experienced this for myself. In the past, I could have easily guzzled a whole box of milk chocolates. With raw chocolate, I literally feel full up after one or two small pieces.
So why should we be eating raw chocolate rather than regular chocolate? Well, most commercial chocolate is highly processed and heated to very high temperatures, which means that most of the nutrients are destroyed or altered. Commercial chocolate is often loaded with refined sugar, causing energy spikes and slumps, as well as weight gain. It can also contain processed fat, various synthetic chemicals, artificial preservatives, cheap emulsifiers and other fillers. Adding dairy milk also blocks the absorption of the great antioxidants in chocolate.
I love making my own chocolates and giving them to friends & family. This is a shot of the Macmillan event where I sold raw chocolate to raise funds for the charity.
At the Love Food Festival in Bath yesterday, I bumped into Dan and Paula from Elements for Life, and I bought some bars of their award-winning Yummy Scrummy raw chocolate brownie.
This delicious raw chocolate brownie is packed with goodness, and topped with lush goji berries.
To celebrate the fact it’s Chocolate Week (and recognising it would indeed be greedy to keep all the bars for myself ) I’m going to give you guys a chance to win a bar and experience the delights of Yummy Scrummy for themselves.
To enter the giveaway, simply leave me a comment and describe your favourite chocolate flavour. My current 3 favourite flavours are goji berry & nut; orange; and coffee.
The winner will be chosen at random at 7pm (GMT) on Monday 17th October.
Good luck everybody!