Thursday, January 19, 2012

Raw vegan superfood chocolate...

Maca spirulina chocolate.
One of my almost-daily staples is raw vegan superfood chocolate.  That's right.  Chocolate!  Yum.  I make raw cacao treats with what I think of as the holy trinity of superfoods.  Cacao, maca, and spirulina.  There are other notable superfoods like hemp seeds, bee pollen, chia, goji berries, etc.  Today, though, I'm focusing on the holy trinity (plus a shout out to coconut oil).  At the bottom of this post you'll find an unbelievably easy and delicious recipe that I eat almost daily so you can try all this nutrient rich chocolatey goodness for yourself! 

Raw cacao is a superfood full of nutrients and minerals.  It is very rich in magnesium, which is often why women crave chocolate during their monthly cycle, because that is a time we are most likely to be deficient in magnesium.  Actually, some sources report that over 80% of the American population is chronically deficient in magnesium!  And, surprise!, raw cacao is the highest natural source of it.  Magnesium balances brain chemistry, supports strong bones, stabilizes mood, and supports healthy heart function.  Raw cacao is also rich in iron, antioxidants, and trace minerals.  It contains the 'bliss chemical' anandmide which is a neurotransmitter the brain releases naturally when you feel good.  It also has phenylethylamine (PEA) which is an adrenal-related chemical that is released in the brain when we are in love.  PEA also increases focus, alertness, and enhances feelings of wellbeing.

Maca is a root grown in the Peruvian Andes and is the highest cultivated food in the world!  I don't know why that interesting little fact brings me so much joy every time I eat maca.  Maca is nutrient rich, containing high levels of minerals like selenium, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, and silica.  It is also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E.  It contains 18 amino acids, essential fatty acids, and sterols.  It is high in protein and fiber.  Most importantly, maca helps rapid recovery from stress and exercise.  It is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning it corrects imbalances in the hormones essential for normal body functions.  For example, for some people, it may help them have normal sleep, while for others it may help them be more alert and energized.  It provides the nutrients necessary for your body to achieve normal balanced function.  If you experience a lot of stress in your life, or if you maintain a consistent and rigorous exercise program, I highly recommend adding maca to your daily diet.  If you've never tasted maca, you'll be happy to know that it has a delicious malty, butterscotch flavor that is great in chocolate treats, smoothies, yogurt, and sweet & savory dishes alike.

Spirulina is a protein rich (over 60% protein!!!) fresh water blue-green algae.  Pound for pound, it is the highest occurrence of protein on the planet.  There are only 3.9 calories for every gram of protein in spirulina, compared to 65 calories for every gram of protein in beef!  Spirulina contains all the essential amino acids in proper ratios and ten of the twelve non-essential amino acids.  Because of the simple cellular structure of algae, it is very easy for the body to digest and assimilate.  Spirulina contains high levels of essential and trace minerals, including potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, and phosphorus.  The vitamin content is particularly beneficial to the body's metabolic processes and include biotin, B2, B6, B12, pantothenic acid, folic acid, inositol, niacin, and vitamin E. 

And now a big shout out to coconut oil, as it is the binding ingredient in the recipe to follow.  Coconut oil is composed of about 50% lauric acid, which is one of the 'good fats'.  Lauric acid is a rare medium-chain triglyceride found in mother's milk which is easily metabolized by the body and converted instantly to energy.  Coconut oil contains many health protecting properties and is anti-viral, anti-fungal, reduces inflammation, supports tissue healing and repair, supports healthy thyroid function, increases the metabolism, lowers risk of heart disease, promotes healthy hair and complexion, and the list goes on and on...

As promised, this is my basic raw chocolate recipe.  I often add other superfoods like hemp seeds, goji berries, inca berries, or bee pollen to the mix it up, and sometimes shredded coconut, almonds, or macadamia nuts, or even almond or hemp seed butter for a creamier consistency.  The possibilities are endless.  Feel free to experiment and see what is most delicious to you!
The ingredients.

1 heaping T of raw powdered cacao
1 heaping T of raw cacao nibs*
1 level T of maca powder
1 level t of spirulina
~11 drops of liquid stevia
~ 2 T of coconut oil
a healthy pinch of high quality sea salt

*I think texture is as important in food as flavor and nutrition, so I like crunchy little nibs in my chocolate.  You can always substitute an equal amount of powder instead if you prefer your chocolate silky smooth.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated.  Add coconut oil.  Mashing it with a fork works well.  The coconut oil will soften as you mix it in.  You may need to add a little bit more until you reach the proper consistency.  It should be a creamy paste and able to be stirred around in the bowl without leaving much on the sides.  Spread flat, about 1/8" thick on a sheet of wax paper, or form into flat bite sized rounds.  Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon if it pleases you (it sure pleases me).  Put it in the fridge until solidified, about 20 minutes.  (Store in fridge as the coconut oil will melt at room temp).  Enjoy!
Before you add the coconut oil.
Mashing in the coconut oil.

For further reading about cacao and other superfoods, I highly recommend David Wolfe's books Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future and Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth About the World's Greatest Food.


  1. Wow! I can't wait to try this. thanks.

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