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Cocoa vs Cacao

Have you ever seen ‘cacao’ in a recipe and wonder if the writer just spelt cocoa wrong, or is there actually such a thing as cacao, and what’s the difference between cocoa and cacao?!

So many questions, that I plan to answer!

Cacao is a pure form of chocolate that comes very close to the raw and natural state in which it is harvested. It is high in antioxidants, magnesium, iron and phenylethylamine (PEA), which is known as a “love drug.” Don’t get too excited though, phenylethylamine cannot technically make you fall in love, it is associated with elevated mood and higher energy levels. 

Simply put cacao powder is made from raw beans whereas cocoa powder is made from beans that have been roasted. The actual process used to create cocoa includes applying high heat to raw cacao, which destroys some of the beneficial nutrients that it contains. However, even after this process, cocoa powder still has several beneficial nutritional properties. Cocoa powder is commonly seen in the cooking section of supermarkets, where cacao powder is usually more expensive and found in the health food section. 

The flavour and texture of cocoa powder and cacao powder are similar and can be used interchangeably, both give a similar bitterness and flavour.

Ways in which to use cocoa or cacao include:-

  • Baked goods- Swapping out cocoa for cacao can help keep your desserts healthy. Just one or two teaspoons go a long way toward adding an intense chocolate flavour so don’t overdo it.
  • Smoothies- Either cocoa or cacao powder are both excellent when blended into smoothies. Add a heaped teaspoon to your favourite SLIM MAMA SHAKE smoothie for a chocolatey treat that supports your health goals.
  • Homemade coffee drinks- Cacao or cocoa powder is a fantastic addition to your favourite coffee beverage, creating a chocolatey mocha without a lot of added sugar.
  • Dairy-free chocolate ‘nice’ cream- Frozen bananas when blended creates a creamy, dairy-free treat that is very similar in texture to regular ice cream minus the high-calorie content that can come from most store bought ice creams. Add cacao or cocoa powder to your blender with bananas to make a low calorie, nutrient dense ‘nice’ cream.

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