Any difference btw cocoa and cacao?

Annie DeighnaughFebruary 19, 2014

I'm taking this "cleanse" class and the teacher gave us small cacao bites and told us this was "real" chocolate as opposed to what we think of as chocolate and that cocoa was not cacao....

What's the scoop on this stuff?

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I've been using cacao nibs for a couple years, and in November/December used cacao powder instead of cocoa for the first time for making Christmas goodies, with great results. I use cacao nibs in cookies and homemade food bars, granola and trail mix .

So what's the big difference.... Cacao is rich with all sorts of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron and antioxidants. However, once it has been processed for cocoa, they lose much of it. Cocoa and cacao are both products from the same plant with the difference in the processing. It's only been available in the U.S. for about 10-years.

If you want a 1-2 punch for some energy with a boost of nutrients, snack on a few cacao nibs and some goji berries. No candy bar, pop/soda, or cup of coffee needed ;-).

"Raw cacao promotes the release of neurotransmitters, which promote a positive outlook and bodily rejuvenation, and release feel-good hormones. Raw cacao raises levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, and acts as an anti-depressant that can help reduce symptoms of PMS. It also stimulates the secretion of endorphins, which produce a pleasurable sensation, and phenylethylamine which is a mild mood booster. It also releases anandamide which promotes elation and helps us feel good longer." (source:


Here is a link that might be useful: - cacao nibs

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Mexican chocolate is made with roasted cocao nibs and has been available in Texas for more than 50 years. Unfortunately, it also has cinnamon in it and the nibs are not raw. I wonder how much is lost by roasting them. Also, if you melt them or cook with them, does that also destroy the health benefits?

As a child, I also used to get Mexican piloncillo (raw sugar in cone shape) and used it in making cookies.

I think I will order some cacao nibs from your link - thanks for that info!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Thanks, grainlady...did you have to add any sweetener? The stuff is pretty strong as is.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 4:48PM
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Add sweetener to the cacao nibs? I can eat a pinch or two of them without anything. OR, mix a teaspoonful (or two) with an equal amount of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries (or a similar mixture - including dried blueberries, dates, apricots cut into 1/4-inch bits...whatever is on hand), and no sweetener. If you need something sweet try adding a teaspoon of Ghirardelli mini semi-sweet chocolate chips - if that's allowed on your cleanse. The chocolate will make the nibs taste more like semi-sweet chocolate.

-I add nibs to oatmeal and make homemade versions of KIND bars and toss some in.

-The next time I make Coconut Pecan Frosting to frost Crumb Brownies, I think I'll add some cacao nibs. I've added nibs to the brownies with a few mini chocolate chips, and used cacao powder instead of cocoa in the brownies.

Nibs find their way into, or on top of, lots of things.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Put some cacao in a green smoothie and it makes it taste like a chocolate shake!

Grainlady - would you mind sharing how you make your homemade KIND bars? I've been trying to find a decent bar to have in a pinch and the KIND bars are the only ones I see that aren't loaded with weird stuff. But I'd love to make something myself. Trying to get more protein with less sugar. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:00PM
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The link below has a basic recipe you can follow. I toss in some cacao nibs and I add a little Inulin powder for added fiber. I think I got that idea from reading the label or box for KIND bars. They have chicory powder in them (aka Inulin) to make you feel full longer. I've also thought about adding some Great Lakes Gelatin (green box), which has 6-grams of protein per tablespoon.

Here's a recipe that uses cacao nibs I like:

GOJI BERRY ENERGY BARS (with cacao nibs)


Here is a link that might be useful: Homemade TRIO or KIND Bars

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 8:37AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

OK, thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 11:16AM
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