Cacao nibs are made from pure cacao beans that come straight out of the tropical cacao fruit. Cacao was a culinary treasure to Mesoamericans for thousands of years and touted as the "Food of the Gods" for its superior nutritional profile.
Cacao nibs have a chocolatey taste, but they're not quite as sweet as chocolate, which can make them more versatile.
Here are some of the benefits of Cacao Nibs :
- Magnesium: Cacao Nibs are one of the best dietary sources of magnesium — a mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies — with 272 milligrams per 100 grams. It's important for muscle and nerve function and keeps the heart rhythm steady.
- Fibre: You don't get any dietary fibre when you eat a chocolate bar, but you do get some when you snack on cacao nibs: one ounce has nine grams!
- Iron: Iron, which is necessary for red blood cell production, is found in cacao nibs. An ounce of the raw nibs has six per cent of your recommended daily iron intake.
- Antioxidants: Surely you've heard about the antioxidant power of dark chocolate — well, that goes even more for cacao, especially when eaten raw. Antioxidants are important for health because they absorb the free radicals that cause damage in the body.
- Mood Improver: Neurotransmitters are the messengers in our brains that tell our bodies how to act, and that includes mood. Cacao's ability to act on those neurotransmitters is why it's known for its mood-enhancing skills. Cacao stimulates the brain to release particular neurotransmitters that can trigger emotions — including good ones like euphoria. That's why some people say chocolate is better than sex!
- Phenylethylamine (PEA): This is a chemical found in cacao, one that our bodies also make naturally. We produce PEA, an adrenal-related chemical, when we're excited — it causes the pulse to quicken, making us feel focused and alert.
- Anandamide: Anandamide, a lipid found in cacao, is another compound tied to cacao's feel-good properties. This lipid has been called "the bliss molecule", because its natural molecular shape represents that of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
- Oxalic Acid: Oxalic acid is a compound found in cacao that inhibits the absorption of calcium, a mineral that's also found in the food. So though there is calcium in cacao, it's not considered a good calcium source for this reason. The good news is that you're getting more of the calcium by eating cacao than you are if you eat processed chocolate, because the sugar found in chocolate takes calcium reserves from the body
Their flavour can also vary depending on how much they are roasted, with hints of fruity or nutty flavours. It can be an acquired taste if you're used to milk chocolate and bars with sweet fillings, but cacao nibs are a surprisingly useful ingredient. You can snack on raw cacao right out of the bag, add it to trail mixes or smoothies, or use it whole or powdered in your cooking and baking.
Try this delicious recipe, a great way to beat the summer heat!
Cacao Nib Almond Milk
- 1 cup raw almonds, covered with water by 2 inches and soaked overnight at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Organic Traditions Cacao Nibs (soaked overnight with the almonds, see note above)
- 4 cups hot (not boiling) water
- 5 teaspoons agave syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line a fine-meshed sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl. Drain almonds and cacao nibs and add to blender. Add hot water and blend on high for 2 minutes. Carefully pour blended nuts and nibs through cheesecloth-lined sieve; gather cheesecloth together and squeeze out remaining liquid (ground nuts and nibs can be reserved for another use).
Add agave syrup, salt, and vanilla to the almond milk and whisk together. Cool completely, then transfer to a bottle or a container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.