WHAT IS ‘RAW CHOCOLATE’?
The term ‘raw chocolate’ refers to a product made from cacao beans which have remained un-roasted. However, all cacao beans must be fermented after picking to make them safe for human consumption and this process happens naturally at temperatures carefully controlled so that they do not exceed the temperature that keeps them raw. Raw Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume and is made by cold-pressing the unroasted cocoa beans. This keeps all the beautiful mineral properties intact to provide chocolate as nutritious and delicious as possible. The term “raw” can refer to any food which has not been processed or cooked over temperatures of approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) as this is the point at which enzymes start to break down.
INGREDIENTS THAT WE LOVE TO USE
Raw Cacao: Naturally full of antioxidant flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and other healthy nutrients. The Cacao bean is one of nature’s most incredible super foods. It supplies an amazing instant and sustainable energy boost to keep you going all day! It genuinely makes you feel happy!
I have chosen to use three different varieties or raw Cacao as they all have unique flavour notes, a bit like wine! They are from the following countries:
Ecuador: Exclusive Arriba Nacional: Made from exclusive Arriba Nacional Beans. It is harvested from mature, wild trees at high elevation. These trees have deep roots that draw in minerals from rich volcanic soil, giving it a rich floral aroma. It is considered to be the finest in the world. It is produced in a true ‘pod to powder’ facility. The cacao nuts are sun-dried and further processing is closely monitored to ensure that all the various chocolate products produced from these cacao beans remain 100% raw.
Peru: Peruvian Criolla Cacao (Theobroma L – creole variety) – meaning ‘Food of the Gods’. The Peruvian cacao that I use is cultivated by small farmer co-operatives. It is considered “the king of cacao” because it is the most ancient and produces high quality beans of fine flavours and aromas. Minimum possible processing is used with these beans, applying low fermentation and low temperature without roasting, by means of unique methods to maintain its natural purity and quality.
Indonesia: Big Tree Farms Raw Cacao is legendary for its mild gently flavour. The Cacao is grown interspersed with other food crops such as vanilla, exotic peppercorns, passion fruit and bananas. It has delicious flavour notes of chocolate, citrus, grass and clove. Big Tree Farms are very proud of their raw cacao products which are cold pressed from the stoneground cacao paste on a proprietary built press, separating the butter from the powder. It produces a beautiful aromatic and complex flavour, rich in antioxidants, magnesium, anandamide and oleic acid.
SWEETENERS: Foods with a glycemic index of 55 or below are considered to be low glycemic foods.
Coconut Sugar/Nectar: This has a glycemic index of approximately 35 making it lower in both glucose and fructose than processed sugar. It contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. Minerals are necessary for vitamins to work efficiently in the body. It also has the most wonderfully subtle caramel flavour. The coconut sugar is produced from the sweet nutritious sap of the cut flower buds of the coconut palm. This sap is filtered and minimally heated under controlled temperatures in order to allow the moisture to evaporate to form a syrup. When the coconut blossom syrup is allowed to caramelise and then cooled down, it forms sugar crystals which are then pulverised and sifted into a fine coconut blossom sugar.
Raw Honey: Nectar from flowers. It is pure, unheated, unpasteurised and unprocessed. This is perhaps one of the most important characteristics and health benefits of the final product, as it preserves all the natural vitamins, enzymes, phytonutrients and other nutritional elements. It also has a natural antimicrobial effect. The honey that I use is from hives placed in certified organic wildflower meadows. It is then tracked by the organic authorities to maintain its organic integrity. The glycemic index is approximately 30.
Lucuma: is an amazing sweet and delicious superfood with a rich creamy caramel flavour. It is a fruit found in Peru, Chile and Ecuador. It provides 14 essential trace elements including a considerable amount of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. It is low on the glycemic index at 25 and it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar therefore making it a good choice for diabetics. It is known as the “Gold of the Incas” and it is honoured for its amazing healing properties.
Dates are wonderfully delicious packed with an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are required for normal growth, development and overall well-being. They are among the most alkaline of foods and help to regulate blood sugar levels due to their high fibre content. They have a glycemic index of 42.
Maple Syrup: Apart from the delicious flavour maple syrup is packed with health boosting properties and has a low glycemic index of 54.. The university of Rhode Island identified 54 beneficial compounds in maple syrup. These compounds have anti-inflammatory properties.
Yacon Syrup: is a natural sweetener that comes from a yam, similar to a sweet potato. It has an incredible glycemic index of just 1! It contains natural prebiotics, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) which nourish intestinal bacteria. It is also high in fibre. An amazing sweetener with a caramel taste similar to molasses. Very suitable for diabetics..
Xylitol: is a natural sweetener derived from the bark of a silver birch tree. It too has a very low glycemic index of 7 making it a suitable sweetener for diabetics. It is also kind to the teeth!
OTHER SUPERFOOD INGREDIENTS
Buckwheat Groats: Buckwheat Groats are the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, and is therefore gluten-free. It has high amounts of minerals and various antioxidants and has also been shown to provide health benefits, including improved blood sugar control. The soft white seeds have a mild, grassy flavour, which make them ideal as base for adding flavours such as orange and peppermint as used in my Chocolate Discs.
Goji Berries: are alleged to boost the immune system and brain activity, protect against heart disease and cancer, and improve life expectancy. They contain vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin A, iron, selenium and other antioxidants. They are also high in beta-carotene, which is great for promoting healthy glowing skin.
Mulberries are delicious sweet berries full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The health benefits of mulberries include their ability to improve digestive health, lower cholesterol, increase circulation, build bone tissue, boost the immune system, prevent certain cancers, slow down the ageing process, lower blood pressure, protect eye health, and improver the overall metabolism of the body.
Raw Wet-Milled Virgin Coconut Oil: Wet Milling or Centrifuging Produces An Oil from Wet Coconuts (No Drying of Coconut Flesh) that is truly raw with maximum Coconut Lauric Acid and Other Nutrients. The Coconut Oil that we source comes from a Sustainable Grassroots Community Development that works with farmers to ensure they get fair prices for their coconuts. Virgin Raw Coconut Oil contains medium chain fatty acids(MCFAs). MCFA's are not readily stored in the body like animal fats so they are easier to digest and used in the body as energy.
Inulin is a soluble, dietary fibre extracted purely from chicory root. It has a subtle sweet taste and helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. It is also a great source of fibre. Inulin is a prebiotic which stimulates healthy bacteria and aids digestive health.
Activated Nuts: All the nuts that we use are first soaked in water for a period of time, which starts off the germination or sprouting process, then dehydrated at a low temperature. Soaking increases the nutrient value of the nuts along with breaking down the problematic compounds that help enhance their digestibility. It deactivates the enzyme inhibitors and brings the nut to life. Nuts are packed full of protein. Protein is used in nearly every function of the body and is vital in the production of healthy cells, skin, nails and hair. Below are some of my favourites:
Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped up in a very small package, with a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc, they make a wonderful snack especially if you combine them with some raw cacao nibs and goji berries.
Almonds are a highly nutritional nut. They are a rich source of Vitamin E, Calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. They also contain zinc, selenium, copper and niacin. Compared to all other nuts, almonds are the most packed with nutrients and beneficial components.
Walnuts could be referred to as the King of nuts as research shows they may boost your health in a number of ways at very easy-to-achieve doses. Eating just one ounce of walnuts a day (that's about seven shelled walnuts) may be all it takes to take advantage of their beneficial properties.
Pecan Nuts have a delicious, buttery rich flavour. They are in the top 15 foods known for their antioxidant activity. They contain many essential vitamins and minerals and are a great source of protein, calcium and magnesium
Cashew Nuts are delicately flavoured. They also make wonderful nut butter and have a lower fat content than most other nuts.
Hazelnuts are sweet, and incredibly nutritious edible kernels from the "birch" or Betulaceae family of trees. The nuts are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals. They are also an excellent source of vitamin E.