Chocolate and the Differences Between Cacao and Cocoa

three bowls containing cacao butter, cacao powder and cacao nibs and plate of brownies
Bottom Left to Right: cacao butter, cacao powder and cacao nibs (Photo Credit: Blair/Joanne @ TheDragonsPicnic.com)

Considered by many as food of the Gods, the world’s love affair with chocolate is thought to have began approximately 5,300 years ago in the rainforests of Ecuador. It is believed that ancient civilizations used cacao to produce drinks for festivals, feasts and medicinal purposes. Also, contrary to the old adage that money doesn’t grown on trees, they also used cacao seeds as currency!

I concur with this global consensus and have coveted and feasted on chocolate in all its glorious forms since childhood. However, I only discovered the use cacao powder, cacao butter (oils of the bean) and cacao nibs (the dried and fermented pieces of cacao beans) since exploring whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) eating.  Cacao appears regularly in WFPB recipes as it is considered raw and is minimally processed with no additives.

What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?

Cacao and cocoa both start out as beans from the cacao plant and the difference comes in the way they are processed. Both are fermented for a few days to develop a flavour and then they are dried.

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“Does the Mummy mind?”

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

“Does the Mummy mind?”

My four-year old nephew understood that meat came from animals and posed this question in response to being told that the family were having beef for dinner. It is a poignant question and not one with an easy answer.  

My nephew has been a vegetarian by choice his entire life. As an adult, I only ate meat occasionally, however, was raised on the notion that meat and dairy were part of a healthy balanced diet.  It has only been in recent years, that I have started to question this premise and take a greater interest in the food I eat.

In addition, I have often struggled to maintain a balance with food in relation to what might be considered healthy and the pleasure of a treat. Having explored many different diets over the years, deprivation always seemed to be the underlying premise of them all.

My first insight into the whole foods plant-based concept was through Deliciously Ella. From there, I came across Kris Carr who followed a similar diet after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  If the diet was considered healthy for someone with cancer, then I felt it should do well for me!

Little did I know that within a few months I would receive my own cancer diagnosis: Renal Cell Carcinoma.  Fortunately it was discovered at an early stage and after a partial nephrectomy I was given the all clear.  Wake up calls can come in many forms and for me, the adage “we are what we eat” began to ring true.

Since then, I have explored the world of whole foods, plant-based eating from many mediums including blogs, books, documentaries and articles. I find it a fascinating topic and the more information I gather, the more I am convinced this choice benefits not only my own health but also the health of the environment and planet.

For the first time in my life, I feel I have struck a balance and can honestly say I have never eaten so well. My goal with the Dragon’s Picnic is to share what I learn along the way and, even if it helps only one other person to break the diet cycle and discover an enjoyable and healthy alternative to traditional eating, it will serve its purpose.

In closing, we will probably never really know if the Mummy minds, but perhaps the question today is for each of us to ask ourselves, “how much do we mind”?

(This post can also be found in About)