Chocolate – Cocoa and Cacao

‘Cacao’ and ‘cocoa’ are words often used interchangeably. The difference is: cacao is the unroasted bean that is used in ‘raw chocolate’; cocoa, which is roasted, is used in most of the chocolate we know.


All cacao/cocoa beans are dried and fermented. ‘Raw cacao’ is then cold-pressed, separating the cacao solids and fat (cacao butter). The cacao solid is sold as nibs which are tasty, unroasted, fermented, dried beans; or as cacao powder or chocolate. These forms have extremely high levels of anti-oxidants, three- to four-times the active anti-oxidant level of cocoa. (This is measured by the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score). When you buy cacao do not use it in baking because this will reduce the anti-oxidant level, possibly making it similar to the anti-oxidant level of cocoa.

The flavour of cocoa, different to raw cacao, is influenced by the time and temperature of roasting. This is a major reason for the great variation in the flavour of the chocolate we buy. A ‘low roast’ produces a more aromatic flavour, while a high roast gives a more intense, bitter flavour. The Dutch-process makes the cocoa darker in colour and more mellow in flavour; although the increased processing further reduces the anti-oxidant content of the cocoa.

We often read that chocolate is “good for us” – music to our ears in that it supports our chocolate indulgences. Before we take this too literally, though, we need to read behind the headlines.

The chocolate we eat, with lots of added sugars and fats, is not the chocolate that is referred to in this research. The positives about chocolate come from the cocoa and cacao eaten alone, where the anti-oxidants and the low fat level, 10-12%, produce good results. So, while eating chocolate is not “good for us”, nor is it necessarily ‘bad’ per se. Eaten in small amounts it can be enjoyed and be part of a healthy diet particularly if you make generally ‘good’ choices.

There are ‘healthy’ chocolate snacks, and I have included some here. These recipes include fruit and nuts for flavour, sweetness and texture. They are better snack choices than most commercial alternatives (and many chocolate recipes you may have at hand already) because all the ingredients are packed with nutrition. The cacao/cocoa has anti-oxidants; the nuts are high in protein B vitamins, minerals and omega 3 and/or 6 fats; and the dried fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Here, ‘healthy’ means foods that have many nutrients. It does not mean they are ‘free from’ calories but that they are ‘free from’ processed ingredients and are suitable for many diets (as is indicated in the recipe coding).

The tasty recipes below are suitable for a range of diets (check the coding) and for all occasions:

– guidelines on How to Make your own Chocolate, thereby limiting the addition of unwanted additives and controlling the quantity of sugar;

Bliss Balls, the raw energy snack full of nuts, fruit and cocoa or cacao;

Chocolate-Banana Spread, a spread for bread or a delicious filling for pastry cases;

– the Chocolate Mousse is dairy free and lower in fat than most you will have eaten;

– the ubiquitous Chocolate Brownie, this one suitable for many ‘free from’ diets.

Happy Healthy Cooking



Clare Sullivan (The Grazer)


Chocolate – How to Make

Chocolate - Vegan

Make your own chocolate: for everyone including Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Vegan diets. Chocolate is one of those foods one should always have in the pantry. But this can be complicated when you are catering for various food restrictions; no dairy, no gluten, and no animal products. Here is a very simple recipe so you can make your …

Read More:Chocolate – How to Make

Bliss Balls



Bliss Balls

An ‘all natural’ and ‘raw’ treat for most diets, including Raw and Vegan. I thank my sister Ruth for this recipe. They were my introduction to the new Raw food phenomenon and led to my interest in Raw food beyond salad. You will understand why the name when you have tried them. They are little bursts of energy, a great …

Read More:Bliss Balls

Chocolate-Banana Spread

Chocolate and Banana Spread

A ‘healthy’ chocolate spread with numerous uses. This is the most versatile of treats. It is Raw and the ingredients can be ‘wizzed’ together for a delicious snack in minutes. With the sweet flavour from banana and dates, it is suitable for diabetic diets when eaten in small quantities.…

Read More:Chocolate-Banana Spread

Chocolate Mousse



Chocolate Mousse

A light chocolate mousse with no dairy or soya, which makes it suitable for Dairy Free and Fodmap diets. This mousse is one of those recipes that I have had in my ‘repertoire’ for years. With no added cream or butter, it is a light mousse and a healthier choice than so many desserts. It has no added sugar, relying …

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Chocolate Brownies


chocolate brownies

A chocolate brownie that can be enjoyed as part of many ‘free from’ diets. We all need to have a chocolate brownie recipe that we can quickly throw together, using ingredients in the cupboard. This is such a recipe. It has a very rich chocolate flavour, while being light in texture. You can add various flavours; here, I have added …

Read More:Chocolate Brownies

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