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Navitas Organics Blog

Our Favorite Ways to Use Cacao

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Mar 19, 2018 2:15:20 AM

There's something about Cacao: no matter what time of day, it always sounds like a good idea to enjoy this tasty, nutrient-dense superfood. You may remember that Cacao is a top superfood for truly incredible reasons: it's full of anti-aging antioxidants, rich in vital minerals, and boosts cognitive health and neuroplasticity…to name just a few of its benefits! But Cacao is also a real hero in the kitchen as a healthy, delicious way to consume chocolate in a variety of applications. Here are some of our most favorite ways to use Cacao:

Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls – Fact: Cacao basically turns smoothies into chocolate ice cream. Amazing, right? Add a scoop or two of Cacao Powder to your next creamy blend and revel in having dessert for breakfast.

Homemade Chocolate – Few things are more satisfying than mixing together Cacao Butter, Cacao Powder and a sweetener of choice to make a healthy chocolate entirely from scratch. Let the “artisan” start with you!

Baked Treats – Cacao Powder can be used just like cocoa powder to chocolate-up your favorite baked treats like cakes and brownies. And for a nut-like crunch with a chocolate chip-like taste, try sprinkling Cacao Nibs into batters as well.

Porridges – Sweet breakfast porridges like oatmeal and chia pudding become renewed by mixing in Cacao Powder to create a chocolate-themed variation. We love this low-sugar application!

Hearty Stews – Believe it or not, Cacao can act like an earthy spice in stews that feature Central and even South American flavors. A spoonful of Cacao Powder is a great addition to chili or stew with tomatoes, sweet potatoes, lime and cinnamon.

Drizzles – Cacao makes the most amazing chocolate drizzle in the world, just begging for your next healthy treat! By simply combining Cacao Powder with nut butter and your favorite liquid sweetener, you'll create the perfect decadent upgrade for everything from smoothie bowls to fresh fruit to sundaes.

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Topics: blog, cacao, chocolate, food, health, tips, wellness

Why are Superfoods Considered to be Heart Healthy?

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Feb 6, 2018 2:30:43 AM

By Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef

Thanks to ongoing studies in the medical science communities, the list of healthy attributes awarded to superfoods is constantly expanding. From broadening brain function to boosting the immune system to helping aid recovery, superfoods are well recognized as top-notch tools of wellness, delivering valuable nutrients essential for optimum living. Among these virtues, one of the most widely discussed accolades is heart health – a benefit for which many superfoods are quite sought after. But one look at the state of our country’s health and this popularity is easily explained.

A Few Sobering Facts

Every 40 seconds, an American dies from heart disease, which equals almost 2,200 deaths a day. More than 7% of all Americans have experienced some type of cardiovascular disease and more than 7 million Americans have had a heart attack. What’s more, one out of every six deaths in the United States is linked to heart disease, ranking it the number one source of fatalities in the country. These numbers don’t need to be that high, as heart disease is preventable – and even treatable – through positive habits.

 

Eliminating the Disease
Human-based studies have shown that heart disease is virtually eliminated through the control of just three factors: cholesterol, smoking and blood pressure. That means that two out of three imperative components of a healthy heart are largely dependent on a healthy diet, along with movement and stress regulation. Plant-based diets in general are an enormous step in the right direction to enhancing coronary health and lowering blood pressure, and superfoods, with their saturation of important nutrients, can help expedite this process even further.

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Topics: blog, cacao, chocolate, cocoa, food, health, healthy, heart, superfoods, wellness

6 Ways to Upgrade Your Hot Chocolate

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Jan 31, 2018 2:17:42 AM

 

Hot Chocolate is a winter tradition for a reason: it makes the house smell great, it's warming to hold in your hands, and yes, it tastes amazing. In fact, our enamored relationship with the cozy beverage is nothing new: hot chocolate was the very first way chocolate was consumed…sort of. More than a millennium ago, far before a chocolate bar even existed, the Mayans and the Aztec cultures would create hot chocolate drinks made from ground Cacao beans, spices and water. With no marshmallows in sight, these drinks were unsweetened and quite potent, but were decidedly valued and even deemed sacred.

These days, while the commercial blends of hot chocolate may taste better than the drink's ancient formulations, the ingredients are significantly worse. High amounts of sugar, artificial flavors and extremely processed ingredients make up the bulk of the ready-to-drink blends – certainly a far cry from hot chocolate's healthy roots. Luckily, hot chocolate is exceptionally easy to make at home: Gently heat a little milk, powdered chocolate and sweetener (more on these ingredients in a moment), and you've got an incredible drink that's not only light years healthier, but also more flavorful. Here are the secrets to making the best-ever hot chocolate:

The Magic Starts with the Milk
Although many people are accustomed to using cow's milk in hot chocolate recipes, the truth is that many plant-based milks taste strikingly better. That's because each of these “alternative” milk varieties offer slightly different flavor nuances – many of which are shoe-in flavor combinations for chocolate. Some favorites to try are almond milk, hazelnut milk, cashew milk and due to its ultra-creamy viscosity, even pea milk, surprisingly.

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Topics: blog, cacao, chocolate, cocoa, food, health, healthy, recipes, superfoods, wellness

How Do I Use Cacao Butter?

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Dec 19, 2016 10:06:00 AM



There's often a bit of confusion around Cacao Butter, making it the most asked-about product of the Navitas Organics Cacao product line! Yet, once you become familiar with the potential of Cacao Butter, it's hard not to become truly enamored.

Right from the start, Cacao Butter is a bit of a misnomer. There's no butter or dairy in Cacao Butter, nor is Cacao Butter particularly buttery in flavor. Rather, Cacao Butter is technically an oil. Traditionally, when making chocolate, peeled Cacao Beans are crushed into Nibs, and then pressed and ground with very high pressure. This process creates two products: the dry, brown, powdery Cacao "cake," otherwise known as Cacao Powder, and the pure Cacao fat, otherwise known as Cacao Butter. Cacao Butter looks like a golden-hued oil when melted at low heat, and hardens into a cream-colored solid when cooled to room temperature. Cacao Butter is the reason why your chocolate bars taste so smooth, and why the chocolate chips in cookies are hard to the touch, but melt in your mouth.

Chocolate makers will recombine the Cacao Powder and Cacao Butter, along with other ingredients, to better control flavor and generate a more velvety texture in their chocolates. But to really put Cacao Butter to use, it's important to fully understand its three main properties:

1. Cacao Butter has very little chocolate flavor.

Interestingly, Cacao Butter's chocolaty aroma is greater than the flavor it actually provides, which is only a hint. It serves well as a background flavor, and mostly adds richness to recipes.

2. Cacao Butter melts very easily over low heat.

Cacao Butter is too hard to use in its solid state and must be melted before being added to a recipe to incorporate it. Luckily, this is an easy process! Simply use a chef's knife to finely chop your Cacao Butter, and add to a small sauté pan over the lowest heat. The Cacao Butter will fully melt within just a couple minutes, and you should remove it as soon as the last bits of white disappear to avoid burning (Cacao Butter has a low smoke point). For best results, use a silicone spatula to effectively gather every last drop of the Cacao butter from the pan to avoid wasting any!

3. Cacao Butter will always return to its hardened state when cooled.
Just because you've melted the Cacao Butter, doesn't mean it will stay that way! Cacao Butter will slowly re-solidify at room temperature, and can be more rapidly hardened in the refrigerator or freezer. (In fact, you can transform the Cacao Butter from liquid to solid form back and forth indefinitely.) Because of this hardening property, melted Cacao Butter needs to be thoroughly incorporated into recipes to avoid forming solid chunks or veins of hard fat, and should be added to room temperature or warmer ingredients.

Now for the fun part: how to use Cacao Butter! Cacao Butter is absolutely fantastic in all kinds of desserts, whether they are chocolate-themed or not! Use melted Cacao Butter in the place of other kinds of oil, margarine or dairy butter in recipes like cookies, brownies and cakes for a subtle chocolate innuendo (for best results, use a partial substitute only, keeping in mind that Cacao Butter will continue to firm up the recipe a little after cooking).

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Topics: blog, cacao, chocolate, cook, cooking

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