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Chocolate: Raw or Processed?

A Valentine's Day Recipe

Valentine’s Day aside, I eat chocolate throughout the year and my favourite time of the day is breakfast. Why? Chocolate is my coffee. I enjoy it in the morning as it provides a great boost of clean energy. What I mean by clean energy is chocolate that is made from the purest ingredients, not full of sugar, additives and preservatives. Which brings me to the topic of this article today, just what is the difference between processed chocolate and raw chocolate?

Raw Chocolate vs. Processed Chocolate

Cacao

Raw; Extremely high in antioxidants to protect cells from premature aging; Great source of magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium.

Studies show that it reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance; improves learning and memory and it is a total superfood!

 

Cocoa

Roasted at high temp (not raw); Low to no nutritional value; Sugar is often added and it is a totally processed food.

Some common ingredients in processed chocolate include GMO soy lecithin, soybean oil, milk solids and milk derived ingredients, food colouring and artificial flavouring.

You may be surprised to see cayenne in this chocolate bark. The heat of cayenne adds a flavour kick to this recipe and a metabolism-boosting effect too. The active ingredient in cayenne is called capsaicin. The University of Denmark discovered that this active component increased thermogenesis, which means it can boost body temperature and therefore metabolism. Capsaicin is also anti-inflammatory and research has shown it has an ability to reduce pain and inhibit tumour growth, according to Maryland University.

The health benefits of capsaicin don’t end there! In fact research from Daegu University in South Korea found that it may positively affect proteins that break down fat. In animal studies this resulted in a decrease in body fat. I’m not saying that cayenne should be coined the new diet pill, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. However, it’s certainly nice to know as you let this delicious bark melt in your mouth that you are doing your body good!

Chili and Cinnamon Chocolate Bark

Makes about 8 medium pieces

1/3 cup (75 mL) coconut oil

3/4 cup (175 mL) raw cacao powder

1/4 cup (60 mL) real maple syrup (Taste test and add more if you like it sweeter)

1 tbsp (15 mL) cinnamon

½ - 1 tsp (5 mL) cayenne powder*

1/4 cup (60 mL) raw cashews, coarsely chopped

 

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt coconut oil. Slowly stir in cacao and maple syrup. When fully combined, stir in cinnamon and cayenne. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour chocolate mixture onto the paper and sprinkle with cashews. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Break into pieces. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for a couple of months. EnJOY!

*Please note: If you are using really high quality certified organic cayenne powder which is very potent, you may want to add half of the amount first, taste test and add more as needed. I would suggest you freeze the bark and take it out just before serving. It melts quickly because there are no preservatives whatsoever.