Raw Cocoa Nibs

raw oranic cocoa nibs

What Are Cacao Nibs?

Cacao nibs are actually broken up pieces of cacao beans that have been roasted and shelled. They are similar to small pieces of roasted coffee beans with the same texture and a slightly bitter chocolate taste. They have been around for as long as people have been making chocolate but are recently being rediscovered and used in many recipes and snacks. They are crunchy and delicious and loaded with potent nutrients and antioxidants. The following is a little information on how cacao nibs are harvested, their nutritional value, their many health benefits as well as a few suggestions on how you can enjoy them.


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History of the Cocoa Bean

Cacao nibs start out as whole cacao beans, and cacao beans come from the cacao tree that grows in Mexico and Central and South America. Cacao beans have been around for thousands of years and are valued highly by the native people. In fact, the native people once used the cacao bean as currency. The Aztecs actually thought that the cacao bean was of divine origin and used the bean in the famous drink chocolati.

How is the cacao bean harvested?

Cacao beans are harvested today a lot like they were harvested by the Aztecs. The cacao pod that holds the cacao bean usually takes five or six months to ripen. After the pods are fully ripe they are removed from the tree and gently cut open. The cacao beans are taken out of the pod and placed on banana leaves and left to ferment. The fermentation process usually takes several days as this is when the bitterness is taken away and the chocolate flavor starts to mature. After the fermentation process is complete the beans are dried, and the dark color and chocolate flavor are developed even further.

Types of cacao beans:

Criollo: This is the rarest and most expensive type of cacao bean. Criollo trees are not easy to grow and account for only five percent of the cacao beans used in the entire world. Criollo is referred to as "The King of Cacao" and is used by many "micro chocolate makers".

Forastero: This type accounts for seventy percent of the cacao beans grown today. Forastero trees are easy to grow which is why the cacao beans from this tree are so affordable.

Trinitario: A natural disaster destroyed most of the Criollo crop in the 1700's, and a hybrid of the forastero and criollo was made. This hybrid is known as the trinitario and makes up for about twenty percent of the cacao beans produced today.


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How to Use Cacao Nibs

Raw cacao beans are sometimes referred to as seeds, and they come from the cacao pod. A thin shell protects the beans while they are in the cacao pod. If you are using the whole cacao bean, the shell can be removed by gently crunching the cacao seed between your fingers. When the shell is removed the bean can be broken into small chunks. These chunks are called cacao nibs. You can grind them in a coffee grinder or food processor, or use them whole.

The following are a few more ideas for using cacao nibs:
- Add cacao nibs to cookie, cake, bread and muffin recipes.
- Sprinkle them over ice cream or frosted cupcakes.
- Blend cacao nibs into smoothies. For example, mix almond milk, one frozen banana, honey, and cacao nibs in a blender until smooth. This makes a delicious cold chocolate smoothie.
- Add them to trail mixes and granola.
- Substitute part cacao nibs for chocolate chips in recipes to add a rich chocolate flavor.
- Sprinkle them over your favorite salad.
- They can be eaten straight a tablespoon at a time. Be sure to chew them thoroughly so that you can experience the rich roasted chocolate taste.
- Grind cacao nibs into a powder and mix with coconut oil to make a chocolate sauce. Add this sauce to cookie, cake or brownie recipes.
- Mix cacao nibs with honey, freeze and eat cold.

Nutritional Value of Cocoa Nibs

One ounce of cacao nibs contains :
- 180 calories
- 15 grams of fat
- 3 grams of protein
- 7 grams of carbohydrates
- 5 grams of fiber

Cacao nibs are high in magnesium. Magnesium plays an important part in nerve and muscle function, circulation and bone strength. Eighty percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium and most are not even aware. There are 272 milligrams of magnesium in 100 grams of cacao nibs. Since magnesium cannot be produced by the body, cacao nibs are a great way to get your recommended daily allowance of this important mineral.

As we age, free radicals collect in our body, and if not removed they can lead to sickness and disease. Antioxidants help clear free radicals out of our bloodstream. Antioxidants are usually found in fruits and vegetables, but cacao nibs contain more antioxidants than blueberries or green tea. The following are some more healthy benefits of cacao nibs.

Possible Health Benefits of Cacoa Nibs

Helps boost energy levels: Theobromine is a stimulant that is contained in cacao nibs. It provides a similar effect as caffeine, but less powerful. Cacao nibs provide an extra boost of energy if you are feeling sluggish during the day.

Helps elevate mood: Cacao nibs contain the amino acid Tryptophan which is necessary for making serotonin. Serotonin enhances our mood and calms anxiety.

Improves circulation: Cacao nibs contain a powerful antioxidant called flavanols. Flavanols prevent our arteries from becoming clogged by keeping fatty acids from dissolving in our bloodstream. They also keep blood platelets from becoming sticky which may help decrease the risk of blood clots and strokes.

Cacao nibs are an incredible health food packed with energy-boosting nutrients. They are simply cacao beans that have been grounded into small pieces. They have been around for many years but have recently been introduced in many recipes and snacks. They contain numerous vital nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and selenium. Cacao nibs can be eaten on their own or added to many different recipes and smoothies. The possibilities are endless for this tasty antioxidant energy booster.


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DISCLAIMER: The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis, or recommended treatments. None of the statements made on this website have been reviewed by the FDA. Any product mentioned is not meant to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or taking any medication, ask your doctor first before taking these or any other herbal remedies.

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