CACAO FOR KIDS: SNACKTIME CAN BE HEALTHIER… AND SWEETER

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Children's love for all-things-sweet surpasses reason at times, and most times, we end up giving in to their demands for that hidden jar of chocolate candies– anything to stop the tantrums.

 

Afterward, you may start feeling guilty, and I don't blame you. After all, we don't know all the stuff they put in chocolates and cocoa products nowadays, do we?

 

But what if I told you there was a way to satisfy their snack cravings without compromising on their health?

 

Well, lucky for us, there is an alternative to using cocoa. And it sounds pretty much like it too.

It's called cacao, and we'll tell you why it's better in a jiffy.

 

But first…

 

What's the Difference between Cocoa and Cacao

 

It is believed that the word 'cocoa' is a misspelling of 'cacao' which was never corrected and soon overtook the real name in popularity.

 

However, the word 'cacao' now refers to any product gotten from the raw beans of the cacao tree – Theobroma cacao. These beans do not undergo any roasting process. They are just fermented and dried before they are cold-pressed, and the fat (cacao butter) is removed. This process preserves a lot of the nutrients that would have been lost in the heat caused by roasting.

 

Some of the products that are gotten through from raw, unroasted cacao beans include cacao nibs, cacao butter, and cacao powder. Cacao products usually have a  dark brown color and a bitter taste – since there isn't any added sugar or dairy.

 

'Cocoa,' on the other hand, are products that are derived from cacao beans that have been roasted and added alkalines. The purpose of this is to dampen the bitter taste, so it's more marketable. The downside is that most of the nutrients break down and are lost in the process.

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Most chocolates we see on the shelves are made with cocoa. Hence they have a light color and a pleasant taste – the result of added sugars and milk.

 

These cocoa products are okay, but the labels don't tell you everything. So, why gamble? Using organic, raw cacao powder is way better and healthier for your kids than fancy chocolate.

 

What are the health benefits for kids, you say?

 

  1. The antioxidants fight off free radicals gotten from other food and from the environment, and which can be really harmful.
  2. Flavanols in cacao also aid your child's memory and learning abilities.
  3. The presence of phenylethylamine stimulates the brain to produce in chocolate tells your child's brain to release endorphins that help lighten your children's moods and keeps them happy and carefree.
  4. Cacao powder is low in sugar, has no milk, and contains chromium, which is all good for managing your kid's weight.

 

Wow! You should exchange that cocoa jar with a cacao one right now. We know you have misgivings about the taste, so we'll give you tips on how to introduce cacao to your kids:

 

  • Bake a small portion of it into snacks and yummy treats to ease them into the cacao lifestyle.
  • You can make it into chocolate bars and add a dash of natural sweeteners like yacon syrup or coconut sugar to mask the taste.
  • Try blending it into smoothies or make it into hot cocoa drinks.

 

Remember to use only natural sweeteners and as little as possible. Good luck, and don't forget to share your recipes!

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