What are Cacao Nibs?
Cacao comes in many different forms. Think of it a bit like olive oil in all its varied refinements! Essentially, Cacao Nibs are little pieces of the cacao bean and seed. They are hardly processed and contain high levels of many different kinds of vitamins, minerals and other delightful nutrients. It is for these reasons that they are such a popular organic superfood!
The beans and seeds from the Cacao Tree are harvested, fermented, dried, cleaned, cracked and then removed from the shell to create the raw nibs/pieces. At this point it’s probably worth mentioning the difference between Raw Cacao and Cocoa. Cacao has had hardly any heat-treatment in order to get the finished product. In other words, it’s uncooked or raw; as such, raw cacao nibs retain all their natural living enzymes. Cacao beans that have been heated or roasted during processing are used to make chocolate due to its sweeter taste.
As most superfoodies will know, you can eat raw cacao and cacao nibs are no different. They have a subtle crunch - that someone people liken to the that of cashew. They taste like a very bitter chocolate that varies slightly depending on the growing conditions (like soil and sunlight) which leads me nicely on to our next question:
Where is Cacao grown?
Cacao beans (or pods) are found on the Cacao Tree, which is also called the Theobroma Cacao Tree and is native to the Amazon Basin. Cacao was domesticated by tribes in Mexico and Central America more than 4,000 years ago and it is believed that the early Mayan civilization used to eat it in spiritual ceremonies.
The Cacao Tree thrives in hot and humid climates like the tropical regions around the Equator. It is for this reason that 70% of the world's cacao beans come from West African countries like the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Is Cacao good for you?
Cacao nibs are packed full of nutrients and are thought to be one of the richest food sources of magnesium!
They are also rich in fibre, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Not only that, they contain high amounts of phenolic phytochemicals and flavonoids which help protect your cells against damage from free radicals. These antioxidant properties help prevent cells from degenerating which, in turn, can deter premature aging!
The main flavonoid in Cacao is Epicatechin and research has shown that this particular chemical may have a mood-boosting effect on our brains as well as it helping to regulate our glucose production. Other flavonoids found in Cacao Nibs are thought to lower blood pressure and increase blood vessels flexibility.
Cacao Nibs recipe ideas:
You can eat these little nibs on their own. However, because they are raw, most people like to mix them with something sweeter to take the edge off the bitterness. Here are some ways you can include them in your meals and snacks:
1. Add a handful of Nibs and a drizzle of honey to your morning porridge to get a good dose of nutrients in to your breakfast, setting you up for your day ahead. You could even try replacing the honey with our Organic Spanish Bee Pollen Granules to add even more nutrients.
2. Organic Cacao Nibs are a great addition to your morning muesli or granola too. The crunchiness of the nibs can also be really good in homemade flapjacks!
3. Try sprinkling some nibs on top of brownies or cakes before baking them in the oven as a healthier version of chocolate chips. We particularly like topping banana bread with them.
4. Or as a simple and healthier dessert, add cacao nibs to natural yogurt with fresh peach and blueberries.
Cacao Nibs can also enhance the flavour of some savoury foods too! They add a wonderful, smoky depth to most meats and go very well with red wine glazes. Try grinding them up in a pestle and mortar and adding them as a crust to meats such as pork chops or beef.
Where can I buy Cacao Nibs?
Cacao Nibs Root are available to buy directly from our UK superfood store. You can also buy this and other organic health foods from our UK Amazon storefront. Click here or enter 'TheHealthyTree Company' into the Amazon search bar across any European marketplace.
As with all of our products, our cacao is certified by the Soil Association.
If that’s got your taste buds going then you can order our Organic Raw Cacao Nibs here and try them for yourself. Head over to our superfood recipes page to learn some more ways to include these amazing little nibs in your food! If you prefer the idea of cacao in smoothies or juices, you can find our cacao powder here.