It’s been a long cold winter and all I really feel like doing is cuddling up under a duvet eating cake and biscuits. As tempting as that is, and yes I do succumb to a piece of cake and some biscuits now and then, I have always struggled with my weight and have always needed ways of curbing my sugar cravings.
This is where the wonders of cacao have had the biggest impact on my life. I set up my company CHOC Chick in 2009 after discovering how easy and delicious it was to make raw chocolates from pure cacao ingredients and sweetened with a natural fruit syrup like Sweet Freedom or maple syrup. Apart from the taste, that transported me back to my childhood in South America, I realised that I only felt like eating 2-3 small raw chocolates (33 cals each) instead of devouring an entire large Fruit n’ Nut bar a day as I’d become accustomed to. During my afternoon slump, where I particularly craved something sweet, I simply made a cup of hot chocolate with my cacao powder, hot milk or dairy substitute (I think rice milk tastes best) and little bit of sweetener and seemed to feel satisfied. I also started drinking a shot of cacao powder in a little espresso cup with warm water before a meal and found my appetite decreased and I ate a lot less than I would have normally.
The effect was amazing. I lost weight, had more energy and just felt happier without really feeling that I was doing anything differently. Over the course of a year I gradually lost 28lbs and although my weight does fluctuate by 5lbs here and there, 6 years later I’ve kept the weight off.
I completely forgot how much weight I had lost as eating raw chocolates or drinking raw cacao powder whenever I need something sweet has become such a regular part of my life and it wasn’t until last week, when I was exhibiting at a trade show, that a lovely woman came up to me and said she remembered meeting me 7 years ago when I just started CHOC Chick. She sent me a lovely email with a photo she had taken of me at my first ever trade show at a stand I shared with the wonderful Sweet Freedom ladies.
So what is it about raw chocolate that is so CHOCtastic? Numerous studies have shown that cocoa powder and minimally processed raw cacao powder in particular is high in antioxidant flavanols, helps reduce inflammation, increases serotonin levels (enhances our moods), is beneficial for blood flow and heart function and has appetite suppressant qualities as well as improves our body’s ability to metabolise fat.
The difference between raw cacao and normal drinking cocoa is that cacao is in the most natural state. It’s 100% cocoa that is minimally processed and is simply the cocoa beans or nibs ground up so that you get the most out of this incredible superfood. Other, traditional cocoa powder is heavily roasted and undergoes an alkalising process called ‘Dutching’ and may also contain sugar and soya lecithin. This over processing has been known to reduce many of the benefits of the cocoa bean, so you would need to consume a lot more to get the same affects you could have from smaller quantities of raw cacao and of course would be unlikely to reduce your sugar cravings if it already contains sugar.
As interesting as the studies are, the effects and benefits I have personally felt speak for themselves. Consuming raw cacao has really worked for me and this winter instead of gorging on sugar laden foods, I will be taking the #CHOCCraveChallenge for the next 20 days.
Try it for yourself:
Mix 1tsp CHOC Chick organic raw cacao powder or Blissful Blends with a little natural sweetener if desired, add hot water and mix well to a paste, top up with a little more hot water for a short shot of cacao before a meal, or add hot milk or dairy substitute for a hot chocolate drink. Drink before a meal or anytime you fancy something sweet and see how blissful life can be.
More research and studies on the benefits of cocoa and high cocoa content cacao: