This is my ultimate favorite morning drink.
I was hesitant to give up my morning coffee routine, but after reading about how caffeine can disrupt your body's natural hormone regulation (check out this article by women's hormone expert Alisa Vitti), I decided to conduct my own experiment. I used to drink an average of 1-2 cups of coffee a day, and looked forward to it as a special "pick-me-up". Sure, I love the taste of coffee, and am a BIG fan of coffee shop culture, but I was willing to give that up to combat my low energy levels and hormone imbalances - which I've been experiencing in my health for the last few years.
After reading up on the benefits of raw cacao, I decided to replace my morning joe for a delicious, warm cup of chocolatey goodness. I made the switch four months ago, and have noticed a huge increase in my energy levels throughout the day. Instead of the typical burst in energy and unwelcome crash I would experience from coffee, the antioxidants, adaptogens, and theobromine from this cacao elixir provide me with a natural energy boost that feels stimulating, but much more grounded. As an added bonus, I feel like I nourish myself with the most special treat every time I sit down with a cup of this hot cacao! Who wouldn’t love starting their day off with chocolate?
Benefits of Cacao:
Mood Booster: cacao contains phenethylamine and anandamide - compounds that are known to improve your mood and trigger endorphin release. Cacao is also shown to boost serotonin levels in the brain.
Natural Energy: theobromine ("theo" = gods, "broma" = food) naturally stimulates the heart and brain, without overloading your nervous system, providing you with a sustained energy boost that won't result in fatigue.
Antioxidant Powerhouse: cacao is loaded with antioxidants, which help to fight cell damage and ward off free radicals in the body. The ORAC is a system unit of measurement for antioxidant content originally developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Cacao has an ORAC score of 98,000 per 100g compared with 2,400 for blueberries (that's 40x more!)
Iron & Magnesium: cacao provides a rich dose of iron and magnesium, which are essential for energy metabolism, cardiovascular function, and muscle health. Cacao contains 7.3mg of iron per 100g (compared to beef and lamb at 2.5mg, and spinach at 3.6mg), and 499 mg of magnesium per 100g (124% of the recommended daily intake).
What is the difference between raw cacao and cocoa powder?
Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans, which preserves the enzymes and nutrients in the cacao and removes the fat (which becomes cacao butter).
Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures, which changes the molecular structure of the cacao bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.
I recommend using raw cacao in this morning drink for maximum health benefits.
All this is not to say that coffee is BAD, because there truly are no “good” and “bad” foods, only foods that feel right for you, and only YOU can know that through your own experimentation! For me, swapping coffee for cacao made a huge difference in my energy levels, and I truly feel as if my body is happier with the switch. If you're intrigued, or feel like you notice frequent "crashes" from drinking coffee, I encourage you to try making this cacao drink instead of coffee for a few days, and notice how you feel.
Morning Hot Cacao
yields 1 serving
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon maca powder (optional, but recommended for hormone and energy balance)
1/2 tablespoon coconut butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sweetener of choice or a few drops of stevia
1/4 cup plant mylk
1/2 cup hot or boiling water
pinch of Himalayan pink salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender or NutriBullet, and blend for about 30 seconds. I recommend blending because it yields an extra creamy and frothy texture, for an absolutely luxurious experience. Enjoy immediately.