You say cocoa – I say cacao?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1912″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]What’s the deal with cacao? Has half the world got their ‘a’s and ‘o’s mixed up? Or is it a case of you say tom-ay-to, I say tom-ah-to; you say cah-kayo, I say co-co? Certainly in the powdered form they look the same. And they smell and taste pretty darn similar too. So why does everyone rave about the health benefits of cacao but no one has much to say about good old fashioned cocoa? What’s the difference? And what are the health benefits of cacao?[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1916″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]So to get back to basics, cacao and cocoa are derived from the same plant, specifically the Theobroma cacao tree which is native to South America (pictured above) which produces cacao pods full of cacao beans.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1914″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?

The difference lies in the method of processing. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing (yes just like the best quality olive oils!) unroasted cacao beans which removes the cacao ‘butter’ without subjecting them to extreme temperatures and processing. They are considered to be ‘raw’ and a ‘superfood’ due to their high nutritional content. Cocoa on the other hand is produced by roasting the beans at very high temperatures (thus they are not ‘raw’) which changes their molecular structure and apparently reduces the nutritional content. Cold pressed lamb anyone?

What are the health benefits of cacao?

According to a great paleohacks blog the health benefits of cacao include:

  • High levels of anti-oxidants which protect your cells against oxidative damage from free radicals (rad!!)
  • Mood and cognitive performance boosting
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Protects your heart
  • Regulates insulin levels
  • Rich in nutrients

I don’t know about you but I’m sold!! Of course therein lies the catch! Gram for gram, raw organic cacao powder will inevitably cost more than your standard box of Cadbury Bournville cocoa powder! However, market competition has seen prices of ‘health foods’ reduce of late, so you can actually find a reasonably priced 500g bag of cacao in most supermarkets for around $12. Well worth it for the health benefits and that extra richness of flavour in my opinion.

Looking for chocolatey inspiration? Here are 3 super simple recipes perfect for spring that will have you ingesting all those fabulous nutrients on a daily basis!

Michelle x[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1919″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Peanut Butter Bliss Balls

Is it politically incorrect to love peanuts these days? Well I’m sorry (I really am, you are missing out!) but if you can’t eat peanuts this recipe is definitely not for you! But if you are like me and consider a handful of delicious salty peanuts to be one of life’s great guilty pleasures, then these yummy bliss balls are up your alley!


  • 110g medjoul dates
  • 20g unsalted peanuts
  • 20g 100% peanut butter
  • 7g raw organic cacao powder
  • 2 generous pinches of good quality sea salt (or to taste)
  • dessicated coconut for rolling

Note all measures are approximate and can be changed to suit your taste (ie. it’s not like baking where if you don’t measure properly your cake won’t rise) so don’t be afraid to make them your own!


  1. Process peanuts into small pieces/chunks and set aside
  2. Process dates, peanut butter and salt until it forms a thick paste (you may have to break it up in a bowl and re-process a few times depending on the power of your food processor).
  3. Add the peanuts and process briefly until combined.
  4. Roll into balls and coat in dessicated coconut.
  5. Bliss!!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1920″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie

Looking for a way to have chocolate for breakfast without, well, eating chocolate? This smoothie for one is full of superfood goodness and tastes too good to be true (except it is true!)


  • Handful of kale (minus the tough stalks)
  • Half a frozen banana
  • Handful of frozen blueberries (affordable bags available at your local supermarket)
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • Tablespoon of chia seeds
  • Generous tablespoon of raw organic cacao powder
  • 1 cup of coconut water


Blend in a good blender (or even better in your Magic Bullet so you can enjoy straight from the blending cup!) and enjoy!![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1923″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Simple Hot Chocolate

There is still enough chill in the evenings to enjoy snuggling up with a mug of this decadent hot choccie and a good book! Yes dates have sugar in them. However, they have a lot more nutritional value than plain old white processed sugar! Too simple for anything more than the one liner below!

Heat 1 cup of your milk of choice on the stove top or in the microwave, blend with 2 medjoul dates and a generous tablespoon of cacao powder until smooth, frothy and divine![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Turmeric the Golden Spice

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Turmeric the Golden Spice

Growing up in an Indian family, where my grandmother had natural remedies for everything, I always find myself comparing modern medicine to traditional medicines that have been used for thousands of years by our ancestors.

But hang on, don’t get me wrong! I’m not here to tell us all about how traditional medicine is way more natural or modern medicine is based on reliable scientific evidence, while I’m sipping my golden drink at 7 o’clock in the morning!

The Trend & What I’ve Been Exposed To…

Not long ago did this pungent, bitter and yellow powdery spice – Turmeric, catch my attention, as there is so much hype about it everywhere these days!

Traditionally, turmeric is a key spice or ingredient in majority of Indian cooking and grows in abundance in Southeast Asia.

Now when I look back, my grandmother’s Indian dishes never missed out on this golden spice and she used to make me drink a glass of warm turmeric milk every night before bed, as she told me that it was good for inflammation and wound healing. After all, nannas and mammas know best!

And of course, I have seen many Indian weddings, where it is a ceremony in itself that the brides are lathered with turmeric mask for that beautiful bridal glow, a day before their wedding.

The Official Good Side of Gold, Briefly…

So we already know that turmeric has so many health benefits, particularly it’s anti-inflammatory properties, and we also know that there are numerous studies to prove the benefits of this ancient spice. Let’s find out what they are!

Curcumin is the constituent present in turmeric that makes this spice a motive towards research and according to a review article that I found by Gupta et al in 2013, numerous clinical tries have shown the effectiveness of curcumin in treating or reducing symptoms in a lot of human diseases. Out of the extensive list given in the article, the following are a few conditions that I thought are commonly seen in our day-to-day lives and I’m sure would sound familiar to all of us:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Postoperative inflammation – for example after total knee replacement (TKR)
  • Cardiac conditions – acute coronary syndrome & atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Recurrent respiratory tract infection
  • Various cancers
  • Skin conditions – psoriasis & vitiligo

All of the studies and clinical trials involved the intake of curcumin, either orally in appropriate dosages alone, in conjunction with other medications or as an ointment for topical use, by the participants. Majority of the participants showed significant reduction in symptoms in all of the above categories and more.

A considerable amount of evidence has been shown to prove that curcumin has the ability to alter the cell signaling processes of a lot of inflammatory mediators, thus reducing the symptoms of all these chronic and inflammatory conditions.

There are still a lot of ongoing clinical trials all around the world that were mentioned in this reading, with more number of test subjects, in order to continue to represent the general population that suffer from these conditions.

The Fun & ‘My Kind of’ Stuff…

Apart from the tablet or capsule forms of turmeric that are available in pharmacies and health food stores, how else can we benefit from turmeric in our daily lives? Through food of course! Ahem ahem…. you’re hearing this from the right person! I’m kidding…

Spice Up Your Kitchen!
There are numerous soup, stir-fry, curry, and etc. recipes on the Internet that has turmeric as one of the ingredients to give that delicious flavor and yellow tinge to anything we cook!

#Whisper: Coffee or café lovers alert! I was told that some cafés now serve turmeric lattes!!! (I should tell my Nan about this, she’ll immediately say – I told you so!)

And, lastly, I’m leaving you with this satisfying creamy cup of golden goodness!

Turmeric Spiced Chai

Serves 2 – 4


  • ½ to 1 tablespoon of loose Indian black tea leaves
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of milk, almond milk, soy milk or rice milk
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
  • Finally, ½ teaspoon of our star ingredient, ground turmeric!


  • Lightly grind cardamom pods in a mortar using a pestle
  • Pour water into a saucepan and bring to the boil
  • Add the black tea leaves and boil for 30 seconds
  • Add all the spices into the tea mix and stir well
  • Add milk, stir well and bring to boil on medium heat until the golden colour is achieved
  • Pour the tea into a cup over a strainer and serve

For those who are not big fans of tea, you can omit it from the recipe
If preferred creamier, use either milks instead of water
If any of the spices are too strong, you can reduce them to liking

Now you know what my cup of golden goodness was this morning!

Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB (2012) Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learnt from Clinical Trials. American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences 15 (1): 195-218[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1413″ img_size=”large” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”link_image” css_animation=”fadeIn”][/vc_column][/vc_row]