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Origin: South America
Meaning: “food of the gods”
History: the Mayan’s originally used cacao during celebrations and rituals.
            – improved cognitive function
– rich source of magnesium which is depleted during exercise
and stress
– reduces inflammation
– reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
– high in antioxidants
– improves cholesterol (increase in HDL, lower LDL and TG)
– helps reduce abdominal fat
– improves the balance between good and bad gut bacteria
– it’s delicious
– add to smoothies
– use in baking
– home made hot chocolate (the healthy kind of course!)
– home made raw chocolate…see recipe below
– mix with avocado for a home made face mask
– use cacao nibs in home made muesli’s, nut mixes, or sprinkled
in salads
– add to nut butters (yes….chocolate nut butter!)
Now don’t get too excited….this doesn’t mean you should go devour an entire block of Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate! Everything in moderation, and if you are going to eat store bought chocolate, the darker the better (I recommend at least 70%…don’t worry your taste buds will adjust). Here are a couple of recipes to get you started…
Cacao, banana and quinoa pudding
 Serves 4:
– ½ cup quinoa (rinsed or soaked)
– 2 heaped tablespoons cacao powder
– 2 bananas
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp organic vanilla essence
– 1 cup water
Add all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring the boil then let simmer until quinoa is cooked and banana is soft. Serve warm or cold and add you favourite toppings such as berries, shredded coconut, chia seeds, cacao nibs, yoghurt or nuts and seeds!
(Recipe courtesy of Grace Oakley)
Raw Vegan Chocolate
 Makes 6:
– ½ cup melted coconut oil
– ½ cup cacoa powder (or ¼ cup cacao, ¼ cup carob powder)
– 2 tbsp rice malt syrup
Mix thoroughly. Pour into 6 separate cup cake cases or into a cup cake tin lined with non stick paper. Add optional toppings such as nuts and seeds, coconut, goji berries, cacoa nibs, or poke a ¼ chopped medjool date into the centre for a caramel surprise. Place in the freezer until hard.

Kula instructor Ashleigh Garnaut has a Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) in Nutritional Medicine from Endeavour College of Natural Health. She is passionate about using food as medicine. Ashleigh takes a holistic approach to health, taking into account diet, lifestyle, and emotional wellbeing.