Cacao nibs are the purest form of chocolate. They are made from the cacao bean, which is the seed of the Theobroma cacao tree.
Cacao nibs are a good source of fiber, magnesium, and potassium. They also contain antioxidants and flavonoids.
Cacao nibs have been used for centuries as a dietary supplement and food additive. But it's only recently that researchers have begun to study their potential effects on chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
What are Cacao Nibs?
Cacao Nibs are unprocessed pieces of cacao beans where the shell has been removed while leaving the central nib intact. Once collected, they are cleaned and dried in warm air which preserves their flavor profile.
The result is raw chocolate in its purest form; no sugar or other ingredients added, it's simply the whole cacao bean crushed into small pieces.
The cacao tree or Theobroma Cacao tree is an evergreen, flowering tree native to South America. It thrives in humid rainforest climates where temperatures range between 20°C and 30°C (68°F - 86°F) and 80% humidity is commonplace.
The fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree, a cocoa pod is a large, heart-shaped seedpod filled with sweet pulp and 30 to 40 seeds (cacao beans). Cacao pods grow in clusters on trees.
Cacao beans are seeds of the cacao tree, which is native to Central and South America. Each Cacao Pod contains 30 to 40 cacao seeds or cacao beans.
How Cacao Nibs are made?
First cacao beans are harvested from the cacao tree is also known as the Theobroma tree, then the pods containing cacao beans are excised and opened. The beans inside are removed and left to ferment for several days.
Once they have fermented to the correct degree, they are spread out to dry in the sun or lay on racks for further drying. This process can take anywhere from 7 to 15 days.
Once dried, the cacao beans are then shelled which separates the husks from the nibs using a machine or by hand.
The husks are discarded and what remains is the pure cacao bean, also known as cacao nibs.
Last, of all, they are packaged up in their final form ready for retail sale.
Taste profile of Cacao Nibs
As mentioned, cacao nibs are made from just the cacao bean. They contain no other ingredients or by-products whatsoever.
While they do not taste like chocolate due to their strong flavor, you can certainly add them to meals and snacks for a nutritional boost or sprinkle on ingredients while cooking to get that chocolate flavor without all the calories of traditional chocolate bars.
Nutritional profile of Raw Cacao Nibs
One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of raw cacao nibs contains:
18g fat, including 14g saturated fat.
Cacao nibs are rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants.
Cacao Nibs contain nearly 300 different chemical compounds, including proteins, polyphenols (including flavonoids), lipids (including omega-3 fatty acids), and dietary fiber.
Cacao Nibs are also gluten-free.
Uses of Cacao Nibs
There are a number of ways you can use raw cacao nibs, from sprinkling them on breakfast cereal or adding them to smoothies and morning cereals, to baking sweet recipes with them. Here are some ideas,
Cacao Smoothies & Shakes
Cacao Nibs are a delicious addition to just about any smoothie or shake recipe, you can add them in with all your other ingredients.
Cacao Nibs can be a substitute for the cacao powder in your favorite shake recipe.
Add some healthy crunch to your cookies by adding raw cacao nibs into the dough. You can also try dipping half of each cookie into melted dark chocolate and allowing it to set before serving.
Why not add some crunch and flavor to your favorite munchies? Try adding raw cacao nibs on top of popcorn or pastries, such as a chocolate croissant.
Cacao Nutty Snacks
Other savory snacks that would be great with the addition of some raw cacao nibs include nuts (almonds, cashews), pretzels, rice cakes, veggie sticks, or even candied nuts!
Finally, cacao nibs make for a wonderful addition to savory dishes as well. The strong taste means they can stand up against rich meats and other bold flavors.
You may sprinkle the raw chunks over your salads or into your soups to get that "chocolatey" taste without all the calories!
Cacao Nibs and Chocolates
Cacao nibs are the main ingredient in chocolate. There are many kinds of chocolates that use various kinds of cacao nibs to create their delicious taste.
There are different kinds of cocoa nibs, from light to dark. The kind you use will depend on the chocolate recipe and the shade of chocolates you want to make.
Cacao nibs taste very bitter because they contain polyphenol antioxidants that protect them from mold and bacteria as they grow, so feel free to adjust sweetener or ingredients in your recipes until it's just right for your palate.
The two major forms of chocolate which use Cacao Nibs are dark chocolate and milk chocolate and the amount of cacao determines the taste of the chocolate.
What makes them unique
Cacao nibs are the broken pieces of roasted, shelled cacao beans.
Unlike most chocolate bars that use ground-up beans, you get all the benefits of the bean in nib form.
They're also easy to store, transport and can be used in many different dishes; whether sweet or savory!
It's also very versatile when it comes to cooking or baking recipes. These days there are even raw food companies using this ingredient for making smoothies.
Health benefit of Cacao Nibs
When you eat dark chocolate, you are getting a lot of cacao nibs which offers several benefits.
Cacao nibs contain polyphenol antioxidants that protect them from mold and bacteria as they grow. These powerful antioxidants also help improve cardiovascular health by improving blood flow to the brain and body.
Cacao Nibs are known for fighting issues like high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, mental fog, poor concentration, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Cacao Nibs contain fiber which is needed in your diet. Fiber also aids in preventing constipation and helps in fat metabolism thus controlling weight.
They boost up your immune system which prevents you from falling sick easily especially during the winters when germs are everywhere.
Cacao contains high amounts of minerals like magnesium, iron, and copper that prevent anemia or tiredness.
Cacao Nibs will energize your body and mind at the same time so they are perfect for people who need a boost of energy to complete their work or study.
These nibs improve blood flow all around the body which aids in maintaining good heart health and improved cognitive function.