If you've been to see us at the markets, you've probably seen our bags of cacao nibs – little bits of delicious chocolate byproduct, or rather, nature's chocolate chips.
Cacao Nibs – Nature's Crunchy, Nutritious Treat!
If you're unfamiliar with these tasty little gems, they're really just crushed cacao beans. The resultant raw nibs are crunchy, flavourful, and packed with powerful nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. The deep, dark chocolate flavour is quite satisfying when you’re hit with a chocolate craving but without the guilt of indulgence.
With the popularity of bean to bar chocolate, you're likely seeing cacao nibs around more and more: folded into ice cream for a nutty, crunch; incorporated into fancy restaurant desserts and sweets; and quite possibly, sitting on your favourite specialty grocer's shelves.
Chocolate in its purest form, before anything else is added
What are cacao nibs? They are bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean. It's the nutty little treat that can become available before grinding and adding sugar. They're extremely good for you, and have an intense chocolatey taste, but without the sweet.
The texture of cacao nibs is similar to that of roasted coffee beans. They have a deep chocolate flavor which can be described as slightly bitter and nutty. Raw cacao nibs are the less processed version of chocolate with no unhealthy additives, so they preserve all the nutrients of the natural cacao bean.
Nibs are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, iron and magnesium. These crunchy cacao bits add that little something to sweets and a variety of other dishes.
A Few Ways to Use Your Cacao Nibs
1) Straight outta the bag! A terrific nibble, straight or with your fave cuppa!
2) Perfect for trail mix. Add huge nutrition, flavour, and crunch to your next mixture of dried fruit and nuts.
3) Amp up your smoothie! Grind a tablespoon of cacao nibs and then blend them into a fruit smoothie for an interesting and nutritious punch.
4) For breakfast! Add a crunchy, antioxidant boost to your favourite yogurt, oatmeal, or cold cereal.
5) Get baked! Halve your regular serving of chocolate chips in favour of cacao nibs to give your brownies, cookies, muffins and more a new chocolate richness and flavour.
6) Savour the flavour! It's not just about the sweets. These little devils have a savoury side, too! For instance, if you love caramelized nuts in your salad, combine spices, seeds, and a few cacao nibs to add perfectly seasoned crunch to hearty greens and roasted veggies for an instant sweet-savoury flavour.
Nibs can add a delicious, slightly smoky depth to meat dishes. Crust pork chops or steak with crushed up nibs (ground with spice mill or mortar & pestle) before searing them.
Health Benefits of Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs are a powerhouse of nutrients in a tiny package! They're an excellent source of fibre and iron, with a single one-ounce serving of cocoa nibs providing 18% of the DV for fiber and 21% of the DV for iron.
They are also chock-full of beneficial antioxidants and magnesium. Get this: raw cacao nibs are one of the best food sources of magnesium: an essential mineral involved in over 300 chemical reactions in our body, from nerve function to bone health.
Mood booster! Not surprising to those of us who reach for chocolate when we're feeling a little low, a serving of nibs can provide us a bit of a boost. Cacao is packed with compounds that increase levels of endorphins and serotonin in our brain; these are the chemicals that reduce anxiety, enhance mood, and give us a general sense of well-being.
Your brain will thank you! A study led by researchers at the Northumbria University in England examined the effects of cacao consumption on cognitive activity. Subjects who consumed a cacao drink before performing mathematical calculations completed them more quickly and accurately than the control group that received no cacao. The lead professor of the study suggested that the high polyphenol content of cacao may be protective against declining cognitive function. Organic cacao nibs are one smart snack!
Stabilize blood sugar. Studies from universities throughout the United States have demonstrated that eating unprocessed cacao can support the cardiovascular system and reduce blood pressure. One such study by the University of Utah found that healthy patients who consumed unprocessed cocoa experienced a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 5mm within two weeks.
Improve insulin sensitivity. The flavonols present in organic raw nibs may play an important role in lowering diabetic risk. Researchers at Tufts University and the University of L’Aquilla found that flavonol-rich cacao reduced blood pressure, regulated blood glucose levels, and increased the function of cells that produce insulin.
Promote good health, naturally! Research suggests that consuming flavonoid-rich foods like organic cacao nibs can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions. A study led by Harvard Medical School researchers looked at the effects of cacao consumption on the island-dwelling Kuna people, who consumed cacao as part of their regular diet. They found that the Kuna people had a significantly lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer than people living on the mainland who did not drink cacao.
If you're interested in giving the unique, delicious, and versatile nutritional powerhouse a try, we've got you covered! Choose from our three staple origins: Ecuador, Madagascar, and Peru. Roasted right here in our shop, and hailed as a superfood, if you want to get to know our beans, while enjoying truly natural chocolate flavour nibs are the way to go!
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