Mercado Monday: The Cacao Bean (Chocolate)
Cacao beans are available at our local market in San Juan del Sur for C$38 ($1.36 USD) per pound. Online prices in the United States are “slightly” more expensive. The average cost is about $17 per pound, but if you buy a 10 pound bag you can get them at a discounted price of $11 per pound.
HOW TO EAT IT
The first step to eating cacao is to dry roast the beans just long enough so that the shells start to crack. At this stage you can easily peel the shell away making the beans ready to eat.
One of my favorite ways to eat cacao is to add a handful of whole beans and a cut up banana to strawberry yogurt. My second favorite move is blend the cacao beans, banana and yogurt with some ice for an awesomely delicious smoothie.
When you see “90% dark chocolate” advertised on a chocolate bar in the grocery store, the remaining 10% is actually sugar. The cacao bean is pure chocolate. It tastes slightly bitter and goes best with something sweet.
Cacao beans are available year round at the market. The price remains the same, regardless of season.
Cacao beans are a superfood.
Most of us believe the highest levels of antioxidants can be found in green tea, red wine and blueberries. Guess again! Cacao has these beat by a magnifier of up to 10.
Antioxidants aren’t the only great thing cacao offers. It has actually been shown to stimulate neurotransmitters in our brain:
- Serotonin acts as an anti-depressant
- Endorphins work on our pleasure sensors and give us a natural high
- Phenylethylamine is created in the brain when we are in love. It works as an anti-depressant and helps increase focus.
- Anandamide is known as the bliss chemical and helps us feel relaxed and satiated.
Cacao also contains high concentrations of essential minerals like magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.
Cacao is fatty, but contains the very best kind of fat. Cacao also contains oleic acid. This heart healthy mono-saturated fat – also find in olive oil – is key in raising the level of good cholesterol found in your body.
It takes several hundred processed beans to make up one pound of chocolate. Unfortunately the health benefits found in raw cacao beans has been greatly diminished by the time it gets to a commercially produced chocolate bar stage.
Posted on January 13, 2014, in Food & Drink, Mercado Monday and tagged cacao bean, chocolate, chocolate banana strawberry smoothie, cocoa, Mercado Monday, super food. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.