A few weeks ago, I did a Da Farq is That: Cacao. Today I am going to tell you all about their big bossy brother – cacao nibs. For example, how do they differ from the powder?! Do they taste like chocolate chips?! Not quite… but let me tell you all about why you shouldn’t care about that!
What are cacao nibs?
Cacao nibs are the rawest form of cacao that is available for you and me to buy. Raw cacao nibs are raw crushed cacao beans and still contain the healthy fats that make cacao butter.
Raw cacao powder is the ground up form of cacao nibs after the cacao nibs have been cold pressed to remove the healthy fats. The cold pressing keeps the nutrients locked in which would be destroyed if processed by heat.
Why are cacao nibs good for me?
Cacao has the same high amounts of antioxidants that doctors say 70% dark chocolate has! In fact cacao contains far more antioxidants per 100g than acai, goji berries and blueberries. Antioxidants are responsible for 10% of the weight of raw cacao – think about that for a second! That’s a lot of antioxidants!
Even better, the heat hasn’t destroyed the magnesium, an energy mineral and vital electrolyte which is excellent for your skin and maintaining energy levels. Cacao is also full of phenylethylamine and serotonin which makes you happy! They also say cacao acts as a appetite suppressant and as an aphrodisiac. Boys take note!
Additionally, cacao nibs contain iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese and can help prevent stroke, heart failure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
Cacao does contain caffeine as well as a substance called theobromine, both of which are stimulants. So if you are sensitive to those you might want to keep an eye on consumption. The amount it effects someone is highly individual, however, if you consume it in moderation I am sure most people will be fine!
Where can I buy cacao nibs?
I am yet to find these in supermarkets, but to be honest your health food store or local market is bound to have a better quality. My local nut shop has the freshest you can find!
What to look for when buying cacao nibs:
Look for 100% raw cacao nibs. Some varieties are sweet which means there has been sweeteners like sugar added. Forget that!
How do I store cacao nibs?
If cacao nibs are stored properly they will last around two years. They won’t really go bad, but the flavour, nutrients and quality do decrease over time. Cacao nibs should be kept in a cool dry place and in an airtight container. Like most other foods, cacao nibs are susceptible to oxidation so the less they are exposed to air the better. Also, if use a clean spoon or pour your powder into a cup you can avoid cross contamination, which is important especially if you are cooking for gluten or nut intolerant people.
How to use cacao nibs:
Cacao nibs are an excellent substitute for chocolate chips in raw baking. Note they are not as sweet, so the batter itself will need to compensate. They add a beautiful crunchy texture that you also don’t get with chocolate chips.
Cacao nibs are great whazzed into smoothies, or as a gorgeous topping on raw treats.
If you only have cacao nibs and need cacao powder, simply grind cacao nibs up using the coffee grinder or using your blender. The nibs don’t dissolve as well, however the taste will still be the same!
You can find delicious recipes with cacao nibs here or below!