Weekly Herb Review #5 – Cocoa!!

Oh, you all are going to love this one!!!

Common Name: Cocoa (Xocoatl, Cacao, Chocolate, Bitter Water, Food of the Gods)

Scientific Name: Theobroma cacao

Family: Sterculiaceae

Parts Used: The ..b..r seed of the cocoa pod

Harvesting: When cocoa pods have turned a dark reddish-brown or purple in color. The seed is fermented, dried and roasted, then hulled to reveal the ..b..nside

Constituents/Nutrition: Polyphenols (flavinoids: procyanodins, and catechins and epicatechins (the same things that make red wine and tea so good for you)) Glycerides (fatty acids/lipids: oleic, stearic and palmitic acids), phytosterols, Magnesium, Copper, Potassium, Alkaloids (methylxantines), Protein, Anandamide

Properties/Actions: Bitter/digestive stimulant, antidiarrheal, diuretic, heart muscle and mild CNS stimulant, vasodilator, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic (especially for colon cancer), immunomodulant, and more…

Uses/Indications: To prevent cardiovascular disease, for poor cognitive function, fatigue, diabetes, asthmatic conditions, diarrhea, liver, bladder, and kidney ailments, endocrine dysfunction, diabetic cataracts, Alzheimer.? Clinical research has proved that cocoa has no link to migraines, cavities or obesity. It actually stimulates Immunoglobulin A, which important in preventing tooth disease) Pure chocolate nibs have >60 times more antioxidants than red wine (which protects the cardiovascular system from oxidation and decrease plaque forming cholesterols) Used as a chemoprotectant (i.e. to help the system during chemotherapy because of its antioxidant actions)

Folk History/Magical Uses: The use of cacao can be traced way back to ~600BC to the Mayans. It was used as food, medicine, and in ceremonies and rituals. It was believed to be a gift from the gods. The Mayans and Aztecs later used it as a currency. The Mayans even reported trouble with counterfeit cocoa seeds (people would hollow out the beans and fill them with dirt!) Montezuma and his royal court (excluding the women) drank thousands of cups of cocoa a day! The roasted beans were crushed to form a paste, which was diluted with water and spiced with annatto, anise, red pepper, and cinnamon. The mix was then beaten and slowly stirred over a fire until it frothed. The first chocolate factory was opened in the US in 1765 by James Baker (..ker.?Chocolate..nd you thought it was called that because you bake with it!.e The Swiss were the first to make Milk Chocolate in 1893 (they were low on sugar and cocoa, but had lots of milk, so they experimented!) Milton Snaveley Hershey invented the candy bar in 1894. Because of the feeling of love and joy you get from eating chocolate, it has become a favorite food and gift of Valentine.?Day and Winter Holidays.

Cautions/Side Effects: May cause allergic reaction in rare cases. Do not give to animals because of the theobromine content

Preparation: Nibs can be sprinkled on food, ground up and used as a liqueur, powdered and used in an infusion, in tincture, syrup, cordial, taken as a chocolate bar (but the darker, or more % cocoa the better!), and more.? take 50 to 100 grams of dark chocolate per day (OH YEAH!!)

Recipe:
Chocolate Cordial
Cocoa Syrup .?r
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp mild cayenne
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c. sugar
1 c boiling water
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
to the syrup add:
1/2 c brandy
1 vanilla bean
let sit for at least a week before tasting!! MMmmmm

My Thoughts: Wow! What can I say! I plan to eat my chocolate everyday from now on!! I am planning on buying some roasted nibs and using them in food, tincturing them, making syrups, and making some of my own chocolate! (you can run it through you champion juicer to make the chocolate liqueur). I went out last night and got some 74% dark chocolate called Xocoatl (pron-“shoco -atl”) and K started talking about how she loves to eat “shaka laka”! Wasn’t that a singer in the 80’s? No, really, I can’t tell you how excited I am to learn how good pure chocolate really is for you! It makes it so much easier to be heart-healthy by just eating a little good chocolate everyday!! :-)

Bibliography:
Bunce, L. 2005. Chocolate-Theobroma Cacao, Historical and Therapeutic Monograph. Unpublished.
DeLuca D. 1998. Botanica Erotica. Healing Arts Press, Vermont.
Onstad, D. 1996. Whole Foods Companion. Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont..
Skenderi, G. 2003. Herbal Vade Mecum. Herbacy Press, New Jersey.

Sites to check out
Cacao
Cocoatree
Chocolate Alchemy
How Chocolate is Made
Dagoba Chocolate

4 thoughts on “Weekly Herb Review #5 – Cocoa!!

  1. What a great review! I have a recipe my friend Alyson gave me, for raw fudge. It uses cocoa powder, dried cherries, dates, coconut oil and coconut flakes. There is no added sugar and it tastes great! I’ll try to remember to post it when I get home.

    -june

  2. Ok, here’s the recipe:

    Raw Fudge

    Layer 1

    In a food processor combine the following:

    1 C pitted dates
    3/8 C Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
    1/2 C dried cherries

    Add 5/8 C Cocoa to the mix above. Then press into an 8″ x 8″ glass dish to form the bottom layer.

    Layer 2

    In a food processor combine the following:

    1 C pitted dates
    3/8 C Virgin Coconut Oil, melted then partially cooled
    1/2 C dried cherries

    Add 3/8 C Cocoa and 1 1/2 C shredded coconut to the mix above. Then press into your dish to form the top layer.

    Refrigerate and cut into small pieces. You may also want to place a sprouted/dehydrated almond on each piece.

    —————————————————–

    I’ve made this recipe three times now and its still great. Here are some of my mental notes:

    – use less shredded coconut if you want the top layer to be more fudgy and less crumbly
    – If you could replace the coconut oil with mint oil (or add mint somehow) I think this would taste even better…an ideas on how to make mint oil?
    – definitely cut it into small pieces..this stuff is a lot more filling than it looks.
    – It tastes good without the almonds too
    – between the coconut oil and the dried fruit the ingredients for this can really add up, but its worth every penny =)

    -june

  3. Oh, YUM! I am definitely going to try this!

    Mint oil would be easy. Just pick some fresh mint and let it sit in oil for ~2 weeks… basically make an oil infusion. If you do it in the coconut oil, maybe keep it in a warm area, or in indirect sun to keep it liquid. And shake it once or twice a day. Or, add some dried mint to the mix, or mint schnapps or something like that…

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