The joys and benefits of consuming raw cacao…in ceremony or in solo.
This post comes from nutritionist and model, Courtney James.
I don’t know about you, but I can safely say that I am a chocolate addict. For as long as I can remember, I required a daily fix of this magical bean, and anyone who knows me well knows I need a fix after nearly every meal.
My obsession has since become healthier in nature, replacing my dark 85% chocolate bar with drinkable concoctions made from raw cacao beans. Cacao is a plant-based medicine which yields healing properties when ingested in its raw and most pure form. So it’s no wonder that I was beyond excited to attend my first “Cacao Ceremony.”
The ‘Cacao Ceremony’, a term first coined by Shamanic tribes, consists of melting cacao into liquid form, then sipping it slowly and mindfully whilst meditating, setting intentions and sharing these intentions with the group. The experience was exhilarating as well as grounding, as it is invigorating and simultaneously comforting. It was apparent that, following the ceremony, the participants were more willing to welcome in the new, and felt lighter from releasing the old. To read more about the ceremony I attended, you can visit The Cacao Club and also find step-by-step instructions on how to make your own.
A quick warning to you: cacao is quite bitter, so you shouldn’t expect the same hot chocolate sort of taste you’ve come to love! Traditionally, a pinch of cayenne and cinnamon is added — and occasionally a dollop of honey — to make it slightly more palatable. Though I love the bitterness, cacao can also be potentially taxing on the kidneys, so extra water consumption prior and after drinking it is recommended.
Those unsure about cacao’s potency can also buy it in powdered form from a favorite health food store, and add it to a yummy, guilt-free dessert. The benefits are not quite the same as when eaten raw but, to get a healthy chocolate fix, this easy-to-make dark chocolate, raw chocolate mousse can certainly hit the spot!
Ingredients (Serves about 5)
2 large Hass avocados
⅓ cup raw cacao powder
5 tbsp raw honey
A pinch of Himalayan sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Mint leaves for garnish
Optional: 1 tbsp of a superfood, such as maca or lucuma powder
Add all the ingredients together in a blender, and just blend together! (Can also be made in a bowl — simply use a whisk to mix together, though a blender will produce smoother results.). Option to add fresh mint as a garnish.
Cacao contains essential minerals and amino acids which are super important to our health. It contains an abundance of magnesium (as a deficiency is often the reason we crave chocolate so much), a lack of which can result in heightened anxiety, not to mention severe muscular cramps and stiffness.
Cacao also contains tryptophan (the amino acid present in milk) as well as the ‘bliss chemical’ anandamide. This neurotransmitter is already present in our brain; however, the enzyme inhibitors present in cacao prevent the breakdown of anandamide in our systems, keeping us happier and blissful for longer. More cacao over here, please! Cacao mixtures in the morning can be a great alternative to coffee, for those wanting to curb their caffeine cravings or mix it up a little!
Love, light and cacao blessings, CJ