The series is back and culminating with a powerhouse duo. These last two superfoods are more of the lesser-known variety and may only be popular in super "crunchy" circles. Cacao and goji berries should not be overlooked, both possess unique and beneficial attributes.
Cacao is pure chocolate. Aim for the raw and unsweetened varieties -unadulterated and unprocessed. Cacao can be found in various forms. I tend to be partial to the nibs because they are easy to use as toppings, but the powder and beans also possess the same helpful qualitiess. Cacao beans are the seeds of the cacao fruit and are the foundation of a majority of chocolate products. Nibs are crumbled beans, while the powder consists of milled beans. Cacao is not as sweet as chocolate since it lacks added sugar, but does add a discrete, somewhat bittersweet flavor to foods or beverages.
Cacao is a very good source of magnesium, which is needed for a multitude of biochemical reactions in the body including energy production, DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis. Magnesium also helps in the regulation of blood pressure and the normalization of heart function. Dietary magnesium is also linked to reducing mortality from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Cacao is also a good source of iron and fiber. The bean and its variants also have antioxidant power, which helps protect the body from damaging free radicals.
Cacao does have stimulating properties that come from the alkaloid theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. It also contains oxalic acid, which impedes calcium absorption and can be hazardous to individuals prone to certain types of kidney stones. Therefore cacao is not something you should consume everyday, but limited to two-three days a week.
Gogis are raisin-like, orangey-red berries that can be eaten dry or rehydrated and plumped in water and then drained. Goji berries, also know as wolfberry or lycium are rich sources of vitamins A, C, and E and minerals zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. They have powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. These little, powerful, shrively nugs also contain 19 amino acids, which are needed for muscle, hair, and nail formation. Large-scale clinical studies are currently pending regarding their anti-cancer effects. Goji berries may have a negative association with blood thinners, diabetes, and blood pressure medications, so use them sparingly if you take those types of drugs.
Both of these superfoods are great add-ins for oatmeal, overnight oats, yogurt, or smoothies.
I tend to stay away from making desserts but caved! Below is a recipe I created from the Secret Squirrel and utilized superfood cacao!
Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
Recipe lightly adapted from the Secret Squirrel Food
Makes 12 truffles
½ cup medjool dates
⅓ cup roasted hazelnuts (skins removed)
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 can organic black beans
1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup raw cacao powder
12 whole roasted hazelnuts
¼ cup roasted hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
¼ cup bee pollen
- Add dates to a food processor and process until the dates become a paste
- Add roasted hazelnuts to the food processor and process for a few minutes until the dates and hazelnuts become a cohesive butter.
- Drain and rinse the black beans and pat dry.
- Add the black beans and the remaining ingredients to the food processor and mix until smooth.
- Put the chocolate truffle mixture into the freezer for 1 hour to set.
- Whisk melted coconut oil with maple syrup.
- Add raw cacao powder and continue whisking until combined and chocolate mixture is smooth.
- Set aside.
- Combine chopped roasted hazelnuts and bee pollen in a small bowl.
- Roll 1 tbsp of chocolate mixture into a ball and put a roasted hazelnut into the center. Roll until you have a smooth ball.
- Dip ball into raw chocolate.
- Roll ball into the hazelnut bee pollen mixture.
- Repeat with remaining chocolate truffles.
- Freeze for 3 hours to set and enjoy