Cocoa or cacao powder (more on the different cocoa lingo below) is one of my favourite sweet recipe additions. I find that its bitterness allows for a decrease in sweeteners without compromising any expected sweet flavour. Adding cocoa or cacao to a dish of course makes it chocolate but this doesn’t make it unhealthy.
We’re used to categorizing chocolate flavoured foods as “junk food” because cocoa is usually accompanied by sugar and dairy. Remove those things and you’re left with a versatile ingredient to have in your plant based pantry.
What’s the difference?
Cocoa Powder is made from roasting cacao beans and grinding them into a powder (this is an oversimplification of the process). Cocoa powder provides health-supportive antioxidants, is low in calories, has zero cholesterol (because it’s a plant-based food), and is a source of magnesium and fibre. One tablespoon of cocoa powder has about 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of fat, and 25 mg of magnesium.
Raw Cacao Powder is made without roasting the cacao beans. Unroasted cacao powder is considered “raw” and is even higher in anti-oxidants! You can use cacao and cocoa interchangeably. In terms of health supportive properties, cacao wins.
Carob Powder is derived from the carob tree and is often used as a substitute for cocoa powder. Carob has no caffeine or theobromine, which is present in cocoa and cacao powder. Carob doesn’t have the same chocolaty flavour but rather is more nutty. Carob also has more fibre and less fat than cocoa/cacao. I like to add carob to recipes but I don’t find it to be a great replacement for cocoa/cacao in recipes that are intended to have a distinct chocolate flavour.
One Green Planet
does a great cocoa to cacao comparison. Also very excited to have some of my recipes shared on their Food Monster platform
! Check it out, they have a ton of plant based recipes from all kinds of bloggers, foodies and chefs!
In this Chocolate Blueberry Breakfast Bowl I used raw cacao powder but I’ve also made it with unsweetened cocoa powder-both are delicious and offer magnesium, fibre and antioxidants. Feel free to try it with carob! If you do, please report back!