Oh chocolate, how we love thee! You fill our souls with comfort and bring our taste buds to life. You are a superstar in the world of sweets and we crave you daily.
Thank goodness there’s a way to satisfy those cravings while also contributing to a healthier, longer life. How is this possible you ask? Why, it’s with the use of cocoa powder, my friend!
Cocoa powder, which also may be referred to as cacao powder, cocoa solids, or simply cocoa or cacao, is what remains after cocoa butter (i.e. the fat) is removed from cocoa beans. Cocoa powder is often used as an ingredient in other products, such as baking cocoa and hot cocoa. But it also can be found on its own. And what a magical find it is!
Here are some fun facts about cocoa powder that are sure to make a chocolate lover’s day:
– One tablespoon of cocoa powder contains only 12 calories!
– Studies show that cocoa powder can:
- Increase metabolism: This ingredient’s high levels of magnesium help boost metabolic function; theobromine and anandamide-theobromine are also natural stimulants known to help rev the metabolism.
- Boost mood: Cocoa powder contains the substance phenethylamine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain that acts as a natural antidepressant.
- Ward off disease: This chocolatey powder is loaded with disease fighting antioxidants—containing more than your average cup of tea or glass of red wine! (Who would’ve thunk it?!)
- Aid weight loss: You read that right! Reason being, it stimulates serotonin in the brain—the part that balances appetite.
- Support a strong immune system: High levels of vitamins (A, B1, B2, C, E) and minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium) keep the immune system going strong.
- It’s a powerful prebiotic: The short answer – it feeds the good bacteria in the gut, making us healthier as a whole.
As if that’s not enough, check this out: According to numerous studies, including from Harvard Health Publications, certain compounds in chocolate, called cocoaflavanols, have recently been linked with improved thinking skills. Jeopardy, here I come! (Ok, not really. Truth be told, I’ve always thought of myself as more of a “Wheel of Fortune” kind of girl. Don’t judge me.)
So here’s the plan:
1. The next time you’re in the grocery store or shopping online, look for a pure, natural cocoa powder that doesn’t contain any added ingredients; just cocoa or cocao powder. If you’re able to find one with the “Fair Trade” symbol on it, even better! Here’s why: http://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/cocoa
2. Once you get some cocoa powder in your hot little hands, add it to such foods as oatmeal, warm almond milk, non-dairy yogurt, or plant based protein shakes with or without strawberries or
raspberries added. Since pure cocoa powder doesn’t contain any sugar, you’ll likely want to add a natural sweetener of some sort. My favorites are dates, coconut
sugar, monk fruit or a little maple syrup.
Lastly, here’s a quick and easy “nice cream” dessert to try at home the next time you have a major sweet tooth happening:
In a high-speed blender, combine:
- one large frozen banana
- a rounded tablespoon of peanut butter
- two teaspoons of cocoa powder
- two tablespoons of non-dairy milk
Blend until just combined. Add a pinch of chopped peanuts and chocolate chips, if you so desire. And there you have it – a super satisfying, ice cream-like, good-for-you creation! I think I’ll go whip that up right now, actually.
A few more awesome cocoa recipes to try are my:
Do you have another healthy way of using cocoa powder? Please share in the comments below!