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Food | Healthy Eating

Chocolate Confidential: Raw Cacao vs Cocoa

Raw Vegan Chocolate Mouse - Raw Cacao vs Cocoa
Raw Cacao vs Cocoa – Which is best for you (and your delicious recipes?) Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse

A lot of small but significant changes took place when I became vegan. All at once, I greatly reduced my gluten consumption, started popping probiotics, became one with green smoothies, and began practically bathing myself organic body oils. (I know. It was so amazing.)

I also discovered chia seeds, rooibos tea, and, of course—cacao.

No-Bake Vegan Mocha Cheesecake - Raw Cacao vs Cocoa
No-Bake Vegan Mocha Cheesecake

Raw cacoa was (and still is) a special force of good in my life.   Whether I’m making peppermint hot chocolate or no-bake vegan mocha “cheesecake,” cacao is my way to get my chocolate fix without resorting to something sugary, processed, and filled with dairy.

Nonetheless, I’m always game to explore. Last time I was at the health food store, I bought a tin of cocoa. It’s only after my purchase (naturally) that I’m looking into the difference between the two.

Nutritional Differences:

Cacao is the raw, unprocessed form of the cacao bean. Cocoa, on the other hand, is cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures, obviously rendering it un-raw. Sometimes a small amount of cocoa butter is added as well.

As you can imagine, the cooking process reduces its enzyme content and nutritional value, which, when unprocessed, is rather significant.

Raw cacao is in fact quite the superfood. It can:

Cacao is also rich in essential fatty acids, fiber, zinc, copper, sulfur, calcium, and magnesium.

But what about recipes?

It’s pretty clear that raw cacao is the winner in any nutritional competition with cocoa, but what about recipes?

Fortunately, as far as taste and texture goes, the two are pretty interchangeable. I even made a cup of hot chocolate with unsweetened cocoa (I usually use unsweetened cacao), to experiment (the things I go through for the sake of an article!).

While the taste was a bit smoother, the difference was so slight, so there’s really no reason for me to abandon my beloved cacao. But don’t get me wrong, I will let no chocolate in my house go unused! My tin of cocoa will find its way into many a baked recipe, I’m sure 🙂

Chocolate Cinnamon Vegan Protein Smoothie - Raw Cacao vs Cocoa
Chocolate Cinnamon Vegan Protein Smoothie made with raw cacao.

What’s your favorite chocolate recipe?

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Photos: Mary Hood

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