Cacao and chocolate in 2 minutes

Where does chocolate come from? 

Chocolate originates in Mesoamerica (South America area) where it was consumed as a drink among the Aztecs. In the absence of sugar, corn and spices were added to flavour the “xocoatl” drink. Chocolate was not developed into a bar in England until the 1800s. Since then we have been adding sugar, cacao butter and all sorts of flavours to our chocolate. What was “xocoatl” and what we know as chocolate, are two very different foods.

 

What on earth is the difference between cacao, cocoa and chocolate?

Cacao pods grow on Theobroma Cacao trees and produce cacao beans. These raw beans can be fermented, dried and shelled to produce cacao nibs and pressed to make cacao butter.

Cocoa nibs, cocoa butter and cocoa powder are produced from ROASTED cacao beans. After the cacao beans are fermented and dried they are roasted at 130 degrees Celsius. Some of the antioxidants and nutrients are lost in exposing the beans to heat.

Cacao nibs or cocoa nibs are conched (grounded and stirred), until they produce a liquid. Chocolate makers add sugars, milk powder, cacao butter and other flavours to this liquid. The mixture is solidified to make chocolate.
So what’s raw chocolate?

Raw chocolate is made from raw, unroasted, cacao beans. There is no legal definition for “raw”. Hence “raw chocolate” makers use raw cacao beans and then temper their chocolate. Tempering involves heating the chocolate to 34 degrees Celsius in order to improve texture. So if the chocolate is tempered, it’s not actually raw. Nutrients from the raw cacao can be lost at the tempering stage so double check with the supplier that there has been no heat exposure.

 

Is chocolate good for you?

It is is one of the highest whole food sources of magnesium which happens to be one of the most deficient minerals in the modern diet. Moreover, it is also a great resource of iron for all my fellow anaemics out there (more than spinach!).

Even better, antioxidants actually make up 10% of the weight of raw cacao! Antioxidants repair damage caused by free radicals and supposedly reduce the risk of some cancers. Raw chocolate has even more antioxidants than acai, goji and blueberries!

Sounds great right? Pass me the family size Galaxy!

Unfortunately processed chocolate exposed to high temperatures and chocolate with added sugar, milk powders, stabilisers do not contain the same amount of nutrients. So if you’re looking for healthy chocolate, look out for:

– raw chocolate (check that it is not exposed to heat even at tempering stages)

– no added refined sugar

– a small percentage of milk powder i.e 70% cacao

– no added scary ingredients like E470b !!! Like what even is that..

Or grab yourselves some cacao nibs (not cocoa nibs)


How can I make my own healthy chocolate?

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Love Plantains Love Life

When I told my mum that I had developed a new addiction whilst travelling around South America, she prepared herself for the worst. PLANTAINS MUM! I cannot get enough of my yellow friends. Plantain crisps, fried plantain halves (for breakfast, lunch & dinner), plantain flour pancakes.. they´re everywhere! I am certainly not complaining.

Despite their association with the Caribbean and Latin America, plantains originated in Asia. They became popular in Latin America centuries ago when they were harvested and consumed by slaves. Nowadays plantains feature in almost every plato principal on the menu del día in Colombia and are often served for breakfast with rice and eggs across Latin America.

Delicious and nutritious, plantains are a good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and have more vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium than their closely related friends, bananas. Plantains are a fibrous alternative to other carbohydrates such as potato or white rice.

So I went on a mission to make myself some delicious plantain containing food for breakfast lunch and dinner. When I whipped this plantain lasagne out of the oven in the hostel, there were a lot of envious hungry travellers!

R E C I P E S

Here are three recipes for..

1. Gluten Free Plantain Pancakes

2. Plantain Coconut Rice

3. The Famous Plantain Lasagne

 

GLUTEN FREE PLANTAIN PANCAKES

I’m really missing making pancakes at home and I love plantains so these babies were born. I boil all the plantains I use to reduce frying.

Ingredients (one person)
1 big yellow plantain

1 cup maize flower

1 egg

Coconut oil / olive oil

Vanilla essence (optional)

Honey to put on top! (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Mash the plantain and add a beaten egg to the mixture. Mix them until you have a liquid consistency batter.

3. Pour in the flour and mix thoroughly.

4. Heat up the oil and pour in enough mixture to make a fist sized pancake.

5. Flip and huzzah



PLANTAIN COCONUT RICE

A filling delicious lunch or dinner.

Ingredients (one person)

1 plantain

1 cup of rice

1/2 onion

1 bell pepper

1 handful of green beans

Paprika

Aji / spicy pepper

Coconut oil/ olive oil

 

Method:

1. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

2. Boil more water for the rice and simmer for 20 minutes

3. Chop the onion finely, cut up the pepper and green beans.

4. Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes in the oil then add the pepper and green beans. Keep stirring the vegetables until cooked between 10-15 minutes later

5. Meanwhile they’re cooking, cut half of the plantain up into bite size pieces and the other half slice laterally.

6. Add the bite size pieces to the pan and the other larger circles brown off separately.

7. Strain the rice, put it back into the pan, mix in the coconut milk and cook gently for two minutes on a low heat.

8. Add the vegetables to the rice pan and add paprika and aji.

9. Serve the rice with the larger pieces of plantain on top. Ta- dah.

 

 

PLANTAIN LASAGNE

Just the best thing ever. Why would you ever have pasta when you can have PLANTAIN! And it´s gluten free.

Ingredients (3 people)

4 yellow plantains

500g minced meat

1 onion

1 carrot

4 tomatoes

1 egg

1 tbs tomato paste

Aji

Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Cut the ends off the plantain (but keep skin on) and boil in plenty of water for 20 minutes. At the Leave to cool until you are able to peel the skin off.

3. Chop the onions, tomato, carrots

4. First fry the onions for 2 minutes in oil, then add the chopped carrot and tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile slice the plantains into roughly 5mm strips. Cover the bottom of a 20 inch baking tray with the slices, making sure to leave enough plantain for 2 more layers.

6. Stir the vegetable mixture and in a separate pan cook the meat for 5 minutes

7. Pour the beef into the tomato mix and add the paste , aji and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes.

8. Pour half of the mixture on top of the plantain layered baking tray, top with another layer of plantains, add the remaining mixture then finish with a final layer of plantains. For a final touch whisk an egg and pour over the top covering all of the plantain.

9. Bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy the plaintain madness!!!!