February is National Chocolate Month, so what better time to celebrate the majestic cacao bean? Here are some ways to use cocoa – other than just eating more chocolate!
Cacao beans are the small, oblong seeds of Theobroma Cacao, a tropical evergreen. They are broken down and processed into cacao powder and cacao butter – the key ingredients of chocolate.
However, the cacao bean can offer so much more. Each one is a treasure trove of delicious, nutritious ingredients, which can all be used in their own way.
Non-Dairy Hot Cocoa
When it’s chilly outside, nothing hits the spot quite like a mug of hot cocoa. Unfortunately, most commercial mixes are full of sugar and fat. Many mixes also use milk, which could pose a problem for those avoiding dairy products.
This method uses oat milk, cacao powder and dark chocolate to achieve a rich, luxurious flavor. Use fair trade and organic cocoa for added goodness!
What you’ll need:
- Cacao powder
- Oat milk (try using an extra creamy variety)
- Maple or agave syrup
- Chocolate bar of your choice
How to make:
- Simmer your oat milk, cocoa powder, and maple/agave syrup together in a small saucepan. Heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add in small pieces of your chocolate bar. Simmer for another 2 minutes, and continue stirring.
- Transfer into a mug and enjoy!
For an added treat, try a coconut-based whipped topping on your hot cocoa!
Succulent Superfood Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs are created as part of the chocolate-making process. Basically, they are segments of the cacao bean hull that have been smashed, fermented, and dried.
When they’re used to make chocolate, they are ground up and mixed with cacao butter and sugar. However, cacao nibs are a wonderful antioxidant-packed food on their own. Nibs aren’t sweet, but they have a rich, slightly bitter taste reminiscent of dark chocolate. This makes them an excellent way to add unique flavor and texture to dishes, or as a healthy and convenient snack! Here are some ways to use these hidden gems.
Add them into your breakfast granola
- Use them in place of chocolate chips in a batch of cookies
- Candy them in caramelized sugar for a decadent treat
- Throw a handful into a smoothy for a nutrient boost
- Cacao can be savory! Experiment with nibs in meat or savory vegetable dishes
- Mix a handful of nibs into pancake batter for a nutty crunch
- Sprinkle a few onto yogurt
- Eat them plain, like nuts
- Add into salad for a unique savory component
- Stir into brownie batter
Cacao nibs are as versatile as they are yummy! Give these ideas a try, and experiment with your own ways to use cacao nibs.
Whipped Cacao Butter for Bath and Beauty
Cacao butter (also known as cacao butter) is the fatty, nutrient-rich oil extracted from cacao beans. It is a luscious substance that has many beneficial properties when applied to the body.
Cacao butter is high in phytochemicals, which can nourish the skin and protect against UV damage. It’s also full of fatty acids, which help lock in moisture and rehydrate skin.
Although cacao butter can be applied as is, this is an easy recipe for at-home skincare that’s good enough to eat.
What you’ll need:
- 4 tablespoons organic cacao butter
- 6 tablespoons organic coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of organic pure aloe vera juice
- 10 drops of the essential oil of your choice
How to make:
- Melt cacao butter and coconut oil in a double boiler on low heat.
- Once melted, remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add aloe vera juice and whip with a hand mixer for two minutes.
- Put the bowl into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from the freezer and whip again for 5 minutes. The mixture should white and take on a fluffy texture.
- Add your essential oil and whip again for 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer your mixture into a glass jar or container.
Simply apply this whipped body butter to your skin any time you need it! The hydrating properties should soothe dry, scaly, and inflamed skin.
Each recipe can be made using fair-trade, organic products. from Martindale’s. Of course, if you’d prefer, you can always crack into a good ol’ bar of chocolate! Endangered Species brand fair-trade organic chocolate is on sale now, for $2.29 a bar!
Looking for even more chocolate in your life? Check out our three gluten-free, chocolate-filled recipes!