Feel Good Food

What’s the deal with cacao?

Kate Johansson by Kate Johansson
May 16th, 2013

What’s the big deal with cacao? Yep that’s cAcAo not cocoa. A few months ago I had no clue as to the difference between cocoa and cacao. I thought it was just some of my friends pronouncing cocoa the wrong way. (Like pho not fur and keen-wah not kin-noa… don’t get me started.) I almost thought my friends were practising exotic bird calls rather than talking about a powder made from cocoa beans.

But this strange bird sound “ca-cow” just wouldn’t go away. Health blogs, health food stores, superfood brands, everyone is talking about raw cacao. So, I decided to find out what all the fuss was about. I headed to my local health food store and by channelling the bird watcher deep inside me, I bravely asked the shop assistant if they sold “Ca-cow.”  I was totally prepared for her to laugh at me but to my surprise she kindly directed me to an aisle where the shelves were lined with this new (but ancient) superfood. Raw cacao powder, raw cocao nibs, cacao butter, organic versions and more.


So what’s the difference between Cocoa and Cacao? The key difference is the processing methods used. Both varieties come from the cocoa bean. The cocoa pods are picked from trees and the cocoa beans are dried. Cacao is made from the raw beans, uncooked and unprocessed whereas cocoa has been heated and processed which results in many of the nutrients being lost. In comparison, raw cacao holds onto an excellent array of antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients.

So after my helath food store visit, I took my raw cacao home and started to play. I was sold on the delicious, rich and enticing flavours and decided I needed to find out more about this ancient superfood.  Then I found my answer: It’s the most nutritionally complex food available to us. And it’s delicious!

I get it. If we’re going to indulge ourselves with rich chocolate flavours in foods like raw superfood fudge, chocolate spread, and raw brownies, then why wouldn’t we want them to be nutritious as well? Research has shown that when our bodies’ nutritional needs are not met, we tend to crave certain foods.¹ So does this mean eating nutrient dense foods like cacao will solve our cravings for junk food? It certainly can’t hurt.

We have some recipes for you try it out for yourself!

Raw Cacao Mousse


Use this:

¾ cup of organic medjool dates.

¾ cup of organic raw cashews (not roasted)

80g cream cheese

2 tbs raw cacao


(Makes 3-4 serves)

Do this:

The night before, soak dates in 1 cup of water. In a separate container, soak cashews in 1 cup of water. The next morning, drain the cashews. Also drain the dates but keep the sweet liquid from the dates. Remove the pits from dates.

In a food processor, add cashews, dates without the liquid, cream cheese and cacao. Mix on high for a few minutes. Then, add some of the liquid slowly until you achieve a creamy soft mousse.

Using the back of a wooden spoon push the mousse through a sieve to remove any lumps from the dates or nuts.  (If you’re not fussed, you can skip this step)

Spoon into ramekins and refrigerate for 2-3hours before serving with fresh berries.

Raw Cacao and Banana Ice Cream


Use this:

1 ripe banana

½ cup of organic medjool dates

¾ cup of organic raw cashews  (not roasted)

¼ cup of raw cacao

½ tsp cinnamon


(serves 4)

Do this:

The night before, soak dates in ¾ cup of water. In a separate container, soak cashews in 1 cup of water.  The next morning, drain the dates and cashews. Keep some of the liquid from the dates. Remove the pits from dates.

In a food processor, add the banana, dates, and cashews and process until smooth. If the mixture is a little thick, you can add some of the date liquid.

Then add the cacao and cinnamon. Mix together and spoon into a Tupperware container.

Freeze for 4 hours. Before serving let it soften for 10 minutes.


Where can you find Cacao? It’s not available in all supermarkets but ask for it in your local health food store, or buy online. Available at Loving Earth’s online store. (https://lovingearth.net/products/12/raw-organic-cacao-powder)

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