3 Cacao Bean Recipes for Chocolate Lovers

Have you ever wondered why chocolate delicacies are so popular on Valentine's Day? Besides just being a sweet treat, chocolate contains chemicals that release the neurotransmitter phenlethylamine, the same neurotransmitter that's released when we fall in love.

Does that mean chocolate really is the way to someone's heart? Maybe, but even if it's not as potent as a love potion or Cupid's arrows, it still makes for a delicious dessert or decadent gift.

Despite its popularity on holidays, many health conscious individuals worry about eating sweets on a regular basis. When chocolate is mixed with sugar and other ingredients it can add to the calorie count, which is less than ideal for people trying to lose or maintain their weight. Satisfy your sweet tooth without packing on the pounds with chocolate in its natural, unaltered state.

More: 5 Ways Chocolate Boosts Your Workout

Chocolate is made from cacao beans. Cacao is full of antioxidants, specifically, polyphenols, as well as fiber (1 ounce contains 9 grams of fiber). Cacao is also rich in magnesium and iron.

Cacao nibs are broken bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao beans. They're essentially chocolate before it's ground and mixed with sugar, so they can taste a bit bitter. The less processed the cacoa, the healthier it is.

There are many ways to use these raw nibs. You can sprinkle them on cupcakes or ice cream, add them to Greek yogurt for a crunchy topping, or mix them into cookies. If you're feeling adventurous, pair them with savory foods like fresh goat cheese, create a rub for steak or duck, or use them in mole for chicken.

Head to your local natural foods store to buy some Cacoa nibs, and then gives these recipes a try.

More: Cacao and Roasted Almond Butter Bark

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