Today’s chocolate recipe is all about embracing the deliciousness of a sweet treat, whilst enjoying some incredible health benefits at the same time. Maca, hemp seeds and cacao – YES! Three of my all-time foods rolled into one delectable treat.
I eat these regularly for the health benefits. Plant-powered goodness at its finest.
I find this particular version of chocolate ‘malty’ (because of the maca), it’s what I affectionately call my ‘medicinal chocolates’.
Let’s talk about the health benefits of cacao first…
Cacao is loaded with phenylethylamine (big word, not even sure I can pronounce it, also called PEA for short), which is known for elevating our mood, to support energy and give us that feel good factor we all enjoy so much. It’s also excitingly rich in flavonoids and antioxidants which are linked to healthy heart benefits (e.g. lowering blood pressure and improving good cholesterol).
Cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium (needed for brain health, nervous system health and strong bones & teeth) and is good for iron. On a personal level, I feel so nourished after eating it.
The amazing health benefits of Maca
Here are a few of the widely known benefits of maca:
- Maca has powerful adaptogenic properties
- Maca increases energy and vitality
- Maca can relieve menopausal symptoms
- Maca is an aphrodisiac
- Maca helps to control the glucose level in blood
- Maca helps combat stress
- Maca is a powerful hormonal balancing aid
- Maca has been shown to prevent osteoporosis
- Maca supports bone health
- Maca encourages healthy thyroid function
- Maca can prevent skin damage caused by UV radiation
- Maca supports memory and brain function
- Maca enhances fertility in both men and women
- Maca can relieve pre-menstrual syndrome
- Maca supports sexual function in men and women
- Maca is excellent for adrenal support
Maca is the ultimate adaptogen
Maca is one of the few plants in the world know as an adaptogen, in other words, consuming it helps us to cope with challenging and stressful situations on physical, mental and emotional levels. It is very beneficial against anxiety, over-stimulation and the stress to which we commit our endocrine (hormone) system on a daily basis. Maca is the quintessential antidote for the turmoil that modern day living has on our health and wellbeing.
Maca for all-around hormone support
Maca is well known for supporting hormonal health. Natives have used this herb to counteract hormonal issues (including menopausal and post menopause symptoms) for centuries.
Sexual and reproductive health and libido also spring to mind when we think of hormones – all of which are greatly supported by maca – however, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Hormones are in fact chemical messengers that tell our cells what they need to do, regulating the balance of our entire body. Hormone function includes digestion control, sleep regulation, brain development, mood, heart behaviour, blood pressure, fat metabolism, skin health, mental health, immune system, reproductive health, sexual health, bone maintenance. Hormones also manage our fight or flight response, induce calm, and control the rate at which we age.
Maca’s powerful ability to balance hormones make it one incredible plant-food to include in your daily life!
It is common to hear that the native people of the Andes only eat maca once it has been boiled or roasted. They have apparently done so ever since we can trace back in history. On the other hand, the modern trend of eating raw maca does occasionally have its pitfalls. Some people who eat maca in its raw form find that it irritates the stomach. When in doubt, I say, do what the indigenous folk do – and eat the cooked version (i.e. gelatinised) – they have, after all, been doing it for aeons!
Read all about Maca and its benefits here: All About Maca and the Amazing Health Benefits
Hemp Seeds are pretty fabulous too
Hemp seeds are packed with protein, essential fats, anti-inflammatory agents and anti-oxidants. They are excellent for skin health too. You can read all about them here: All About Hemp Seeds and Their Health Benefits
They are tiny, soft (when shelled) and work perfectly in chocolate.
Best way to use coconut sugar in chocolate making at home
Today we are going to look at how to stop your coconut sugar from sinking to the bottom of your chocolate (because it sometimes sinks and I want you to know how to prevent that from happening)…
So why does coconut sugar sometimes sink? The higher you heat your cacao butter, the thinner the viscosity (big word or what!!!). The coconut sugar granules are heavy and tend to drop to the bottom of chocolate (during the cacao butter melting process) IF the viscosity is too thin. So, in essence, the more you heat the cacao butter then thinner the viscosity and the more likely your coconut sugar is to sink. My trick for years has been to ‘JUST’ heat the cacao butter enough to melt it and not anymore. That keeps it just thick enough to minimise the sinking down of the heavier coconut sugar granules. That works for me a treat and is a good method which I recommend.
The other magic method is this…
The other way I discovered recently (after feeling perplexed as to how the raw vegan chocolate in the store was super smooth and the coconut sugar was always perfectly and evenly distributed throughout) was grinding down my coconut sugar! Simple magic! I figured they must have a magical grinding process that gets everything so finely ground down to ensure even dissipation. “Hmmmmmmmmm,” I thought to myself…. “I wonder what happens if I pop my coconut sugar in my nut mill”. So I did. OMG did that ever work a treat! It ground the granules down, not quite to a powder, but much finer than they originally were. I popped them into my chocolate and like a magical dream, for the first time ever, I have effortless, even coconut sugar distribution. Yay! Have a look at my quick video here for more…
So grind your coconut sugar! You can use a nut mill, nutribullet, food processor or anything that grinds stuff down.
Here’s a super fast video to show you how to make the chocolate…
The method is the SAME (as in this following video) except you also need to add your maca & hemp seeds
Step by step picture guide on how to make the chocolate…
- 6 tablespoons cacao butter (chopped)
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 5 tablespoons cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon gelatinised maca powder (add more if you like)
- 1 tablespoon hulled hemp seeds (add more if you like)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Grind your coconut sugar down to a finer consistency (this ‘finer’ nature will allow it to dissipate evenly through the chocolate, ensuring that it doesn’t sink to the bottom whilst the chocolate is setting).
- Chop your cacao butter into fine pieces (this makes the process of melting much easier). You might also have cacao butter drops (in which case use heaped tablespoons to measure).
- Get a saucepan and add about an inch of water. Place a heatproof glass bowl on top of the pan (see the video above for a demo) and then heat the water on a low to medium heat.
- Melt the cacao butter in the glass bowl, adding the coconut sugar and vanilla. Mix in regularly over the next few minutes.
- When the cacao butter has melted add the cacao powder, maca powder, hemp seeds and mix in thoroughly.
- Pour into chocolate a chocolate mould or a parchment paper lined container.
- Set in the freezer (quickest) or in the fridge.
- Pop out of your moulds when set and enjoy!
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- UK: Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Fairtrade Cacao Powder 1kg
- UK: Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Fairtrade Cacao Butter 500g
- UK: Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Gelatinised Maca Powder 500g
- UK: Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds, European 500g
- USA: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Gelatinized Maca Powder, 16 Ounce
- USA: Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Hulled Hemp Seeds (Organic), 16 Ounce
- USA: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Cacao Powder, 1 Pound
- USA: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Cacao Butter, 1 Pound (Raw, Keto, Vegan Friendly)