Smoothie's are a favorite of mine. They are so versatile, filling, so healthy, so delicious! My most recent creation is this Chocolate Cherry Recipe. Choclate, in its raw natural state, is called Cacao and is a Superfood. It has many and wide ranging beneficial health effects. It is one of nature's most fantastic superfoods due to its high mineral content and enormous amount of antioxidants. Since many of the special properties of cacao are destroyed or lost by cooking and refining, commercial chocolate products are nutritionally degraded, and have many health harming ingredients added. Raw Cacao gives hope to chocoholics everywhere.
Sunfoods discusses the health promoting benefits contained within Cacao. "Raw Cacao is packed with antioxidants, including polyphenols, catechins and epicatechins that help to fight off free radicals, giving you a healthy, complete superfood known as the Food of the Gods. In addition, flavonols help the body produce Nitric Oxide, a compound essential for proper heart function. Clean and microbe-free, cacao nibs offer a powerful boost of phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide, which both enhance positive feelings. Raw cacao is also a natural source of trace minerals, such as manganese, zinc and copper, which help to maintain healthy blood while theobromine, iron, chromium, magnesium and omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in heart health, brain function, growth and development.
Magnesium: Cacao appears to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium is one of the great alkaline minerals. It works to support the heart, boost our mental focus, and relieve constipation. Magnesium, along with other components of cacao, has been linked with a lessening of PMS symptoms. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during their monthly cycle. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and has been tied to increased happiness and improved mood. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet (SAD); over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium! Raw cacao has enough magnesium to help reverse deficiencies of this mineral.
Antioxidants: Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. This point is so astounding that it bears repeating: No food exhibits greater antioxidant capacity than cacao! These antioxidants include polyphenols, catechins, and epicatechins. By weight, Cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries COMBINED.
Iron: Raw Cacao contains approximately 314% of the U.S. RDA of iron per 1 ounce (28 gram) serving. Iron plays an essential role in the body, working to carry oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body. Consuming cacao is one of the best ways to keep our blood healthy.
Zinc: Many of the enzymes in the human body would not exist without the presence of zinc. This mineral is a vital component in over 200 enzymes throughout the body, and it is a cofactor of hundreds more. Raw Cacao contains zinc, which plays a critical role in the health of the immune system, liver, pancreas, and skin. Additionally, zinc is essential for sexual development, fertility, and cell growth.
Manganese: This mineral plays a crucial role in the formation of bone, cartilage, and connective tissue. Manganese helps assist iron in the oxygenation of the blood and formation of hemoglobin, and helps to promote healthy joints.
Copper: Traditionally known as a powerful antimicrobial, copper also works to cleanse the lymphatic system and stimulate peristalsis. In the human body, copper helps to build healthy blood, making it a natural partner to iron and manganese.
Phenethylamine (PEA): Raw Cacao contains high levels of Phenylethylamine (PEA). Often known as The Love Chemical, PEA is the chemical produced in our bodies when we fall in love. This is likely one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep connection. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.
Tryptophan: An essential amino acid which is transformed into important stress-protective neurotransmitters including serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan is heat sensitive and therefore it is cooked out in many high protein foods and in conventional processed chocolate products.
Serotonin: The primary neurotransmitter in the human body, Serotonin is similar in its chemistry to tryptophan and melatonin. Serotonin helps us build up our stress defense shield which supports our immune system in times of high demand.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids: Raw cacao contains essential omega 6 fatty acids, which form an integral part of our cell walls and allow for more efficient communication between cells.
Anandamide: The human body naturally produces endorphins after exercise, neurotransmitters which flood our brains with positive feelings. One of these neurotransmitters is Anandamide, also known as The Bliss Chemical. While humans have to work hard to produce enough Anandamide to reach higher levels of ecstasty, only one plant produces this chemical as part of its normal metabolism: Cacao! Not only does Cacao contain Anandamide in high concentrations, it also contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies' ability to breakdown The Bliss Chemical. When we eat raw cacao, the Anandamide produced by our brains along with the Anadamide found in cacao may continue to circulate in the body for extended periods of time, helping us feel great all day long.
Theobromine: Cacao contains about 1% theobromine. Most commonly found in cacao, this chemical element is an effective anti-bacterial substance which works to kill Streptococci mutans (the primary organism responsible for cavities). Theobromine is a chemical relative of caffeine but it does not act as a nervous system stimulant. Theobromine dilates the cardiovascular system making the hearts job easier. The combination of Theobromine and Magnesium make Cacao an important part of a heart-healthy diet.
You can find and purcahse raw organic cacao powder, of the highest quality and most reasonable price, here:
Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Recipe
1 organic ripe banana
1 c organic red raspberries
1 c organic cherries (stems and pits removed)
1/2 c organic strawberries
1 tsp. golden flax seed
1 tsp. chia seeds
1 tbs. almond butter
1 tbs. cacao nibs
Cacao Almond Milk to cover (receipe below or alternately use 1-2 tsp raw cacao powder and almond milk)
Blend until smooth and creamy.
Cacao Almond Milk Recipe
4 cups soaked almonds
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of raw honey, grade B maple syrup, vanilla stevia (optional)
8 cups of purified water
Put soaked nuts, cacao, vanilla and optional sweetener into the blender.
Cover with half the water.
Blend until creamy.
Add the rest of the water, blend until creamy and thoroughly blended.
Place a mesh bag over the top of the blender container and pour the liquid though the mesh bag to strain any nut or seed pieces.
Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.
© Candice Marley 2012