Herb Article
Chocolate

By Lelia Lyon

Cacao Chocolate — A Medicinal Food

Chocolate, Cocoa, Cacao, Theobroma cacao

Parts Used
Seeds from the fruit

Medicinal Properties
We all know chocolate as a yummy confection used to woo our mates during the valentine season. But the plant that chocolate treats come from (the theoboroma tree) offers much more than a happy mouth. The chocolate tree has a long history dating as far back as 2000 BCE, used as a medicinal food and revered as a gift from the Gods. In its purest state, the seeds of the fruit from the chocolate tree are fermented and either broken into bits (cacao nibs) or ground into a fine powder (cacao powder). These products are uncooked, and boast up to 1,200 different chemical constituents. Cacao has been studied extensively as a potent antioxidant, protecting the cells from oxidative damage, and protecting the blood vessels from the body's inflammatory chemicals. Additionally cacao is bitter, marking it as a mild astringent useful as a tonic, and is also high in minerals. We may be familiar with the joy that eating chocolate can produce. It is the result of the amino acids and photochemical within the cacao that modulate our neurotransmitters; stimulating happy bliss and even encouraging the production of PEA, the "love chemical."

Preparation and Application
Rebecca's sells the organic, raw cacao nibs and powder. They can be used infused into teas, and are wonderful in foods and body care applications. We also sell cocoa butter; an edible fat and a wonderful butter to moisturize and protect the skin.

Recipes

Raw Chocolate
This is a versatile recipe that you can add a variety of ingredients to change the flavor and even add medicinal value to. Heat it on as low heat as possible to preserve the nutrients.

1/2 cup finely chopped cocoa butter
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 Tablespoons cacao nibs, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 Tablespoon rose hips, crushed in a mortar and pestle
Pinch of sea salt

Melt the butter, oil and agave nectar in a double boiler over steaming water. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour into flexible mold or pan that you have oiled with more coconut butter and let cool. Pop out the chocolate and cut into pieces. You may need to put the mold into warm water for a minute to loosen the chocolate.

Decadent Cacao and Rose Mask
This mask can be used on the face and neck to tone and stimulate the skin.

1 Tablespoon rhassoul clay
1 Tablespoon cacao powder
1 teaspoon crushed rose petals
1 Tablespoon glycerin or honey
1 drop roman chamomile (optional, but very nice)
Rose water

Mix the clay and herbs together, add the glycerin or honey, essential oil and enough rose water to moisten the powder into a thin paste. Apply to cleansed skin, sit back with a cup of sweet love tea and relax. When the mask is dry remove with a warm wet wash cloth and moisture your skin. We suggest a little rose hip seed oil or our precious face serum.