DID YOU KNOW?
So who doesn’t love a hot cup of cocoa in the cold of winter, coupled with cuddling up and reading your favorite book? There’s nothing like it on a cold winter day to warm the soul and the toes. Since I’ve embarked on my health and wellness journey, I wanted to know everything I could about this oh so delicious drink that has held so many wonderful childhood memories: Sitting by the fireplace….wood crackling….wind whistling outside….sweet potatoes and raw peanuts roasting on the open coals….the aroma of hot chocolate being heated up on the wood burning stove. Picturesque? Yes! And I’m not making this up! I grew up on a farm and we actually lived this way! Mind you, this all occurred after a hard day’s work on the farm!
Back to this delicious winter drink. Back in the day, I like to believe that what we were drinking was the real deal. Back then we didn’t know anything about the ill effects of processed foods, food additives, nor the harmful effects of sugar on the body. We were not health conscious. We didn’t care about how much sugar it took to make the cocoa. We just wanted it sweet and delicious. We ate. We lived. We loved. We worked hard. We did life with little or no concern regarding how food impacted our health. Now that I’m older and wiser, and have a better understanding that healthy eating habits leads to good health, while consistently poor food choices, coupled with inactive lifestyle leads to chronic disease, I’m more of a food spy. I research things out to see what’s best for my body and I consider how my body respond to certain foods, because after all, I have been given stewardship over God’s temple (1 Cor. 6:19). I’ve even gone so far recently as to sweeten my cacao with both nutmeg and vanilla extract or cinnamon and vanilla extract, and believe it or not, you do get a nice, enjoyable flavor of sweetness. No, not like when you use sugar but if you need to make the leap from using sugar to sweeten everything, you might want to try this. You know the old saying, “Don’t knock it until you try it!” I’ve even taken to decreasing dairy intake as it can cause some inflammation in the body which lends to a host of negative health issues. So now, I’m opting for nondairy milk such as nut milk, and recently discovered hazelnut and walnut milk which I really like in my hot cacao over almond milk. Nothing wrong with almond milk, mind you, but it’s just a personal preference. I find that the other nut milks gives a richer depth and body to my cacao experience.
So here’s what I learned about the difference between cocoa and cacao:
Raw cacao and raw cocoa powder are the one and the same. They are referred to the basic powder made from whole roasted cacao beans but they can also be different. Sounds confusing. The difference, according to my sources, is in how the cacao bean is processed. When it is minimally processed, that is the cacao bean and tree that creates the cacao pod, it is referred to as cacao powder. However, when it is highly processed and sugar added, it is called cocoa powder and unfortunately, cocoa powder is what we mostly served in my family when I was a child. Not to mention the added sugar we put in it to make it sweeter. Now that I think about it, we probably drank the cocoa to get the sugar, you know kind of like, “Do you want coffee in your cream?” Lol. But seriously….unprocessed or minimally processed, both cacao and cocoa are high in protein, fiber, magnesium and iron. So try to avoid the processed, sugar added cocoa which makes it more acidic. Research has shown that diseases flourish in an acidic environment which is another discussion entirely! If you’re like me and want to enjoy that hot, delicious cup of cacao/cocoa this winter, try the raw cacao or raw cocoa powder for better health benefits. I've provided a few basic facts. There is so much more to know about this delicious product and I encourage you to do a little research on your own, dig a little deeper so you can make a better choice.
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