When I say chocolate is healthy - I'm not referring to a Snickers bar...
I'm talking about chocolate in its purest form - Cacao and Cocoa.
And yes, they will still satisfy your chocolate craving (trust me ;-)
So what is the difference...other than the obvious vowel?
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can eat. It is raw and less processed than cocoa powder or chocolate bars/chocolate chips. It is extremely high in magnesium and antioxidants.
Cacao starts as a bean and is then made into different forms - the most popular being powder and nibs.
Cacao powder contains more nutrients than cocoa because it is so close to its natural form (the bean). Cacao is an excellent source of cholesterol-free healthy fats, fibre, iron, antioxidants, magnesium and protein.
Cacao nibs are chopped up cacao beans, similar to chocolate chips without added sugar or fat. Cacao nibs contain all of the fibre, healthy fats, and nutrients that the cacao bean does. Use them anywhere you would normally use chocolate chips for a super healthy swap.
Cocoa is the heated form of cacao that you are probably more familiar with.
Despite the heating and processing, cocoa is still good for you (and less expensive) as long as you choose one without added sugars, milk fats or oils. These can be sometimes be difficult to find - look for "unsweetened" or "dutch processed" (meaning its dark) and read the label to make sure nothing else has been added.
Cocoa powder undergoes higher heat during processing than cacao so it has a slightly lower nutrient value. It still retains a fair amount of antioxidants in the process and is definitely a healthier choice than processed, commercial chocolate.
You can use both cocoa powder and cacao powder interchangeably in baking, smoothies, oatmeal, cookies, energy bites, or even stir them with warm plant based milk for a healthy hot chocolate.
You can usually find both at the grocery store in the healthy section or definitely at your local health foods store.
If you are looking for a higher concentration of nutrients, I would suggest you choose cacao - especially if you aren't cooking it - in smoothies or raw energy bites or bars.