I have a confession to make. I've started eating chocolate for breakfast. Why not, right? Well it's not just because it tastes good. I'm eating it because it's full of great health benefits. No, really. OK, let me back up.
Chocolate begins with the bean. Yeah, we're starting from the real beginning. The bean. Even further back, you want your bean to grow on a farm you know and like - just like animals. It's not always easy to find out this information, but there's a growing artisanal chocolate movement going on, and there's many out there ready to help. I found ChocoVivo in Culver City to be my latest chocolate guide.
ChocoVivo single sources all of their beans from a personally cultivated relationship with a farm in Tabasco, Mexico. Despite its name, Tabasco is not the birthplace of the hot sauce by the same name, but rather it's the home of the cacao bean. The farm is a family owned operation that focuses on quality instead of quantity. There's no pesiticides, it's non-GMO, fair trade - yup, all the feel good stuff you want from your food, but it doesn't stop there.
ChocoVivo does a short fermentation time of 2-3 days, which is better than what the big boys do fermenting up to a week, producing a more acidic taste. Just say no to acid kids. Then the beans dry by lounging in the suns' natural rays. No commercial dryers for these guys. There's some shelling and crushing the beans into nibs, followed by a light roasting. The beans are then old school stone ground with lava stones just like they did when the chocolate phenomena began over 2000 years ago.
And of course there's nothing added like mystery "flavorings," or the not-so tempting "soy lecithin." When you have a product this good and pure, you let it shine as is.
So back to my healthy chocolate for breakfast. When you get a bean in this natural state, before all the sugar and goop is added, it's actually quite good for you. You got your magnesium for your brain, bones and blood, and then there's the great antioxidants, Vitamin C and the overall mood boosting you get from the increase in serotonin. Yes, there is some fat involved, but this is good fat, like the kind in olive oil, which may also lead to higher levels of good cholesterol. So guess what you can and should be eating for breakfast?!
I bought cacao nibs from ChocoVivo and have been grinding them in my spice mill and throwing them in my morning smoothie. You can also include the nib whole if you want a little crunch, or toss it on a salad, over yogurt or ice cream. It's great to know you can enjoy chocolate in its purest form for breakfast, and let the health benefits take you through the day.
Healthy Cacao Fruit Smoothie
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1 cup coconut yogurt
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.