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Cacao nibs – the healthy alternative to chocolate?

These pieces of raw cocoa bean may well be produced without sugar but they are not exactly low-calorie. There are about 600 kilocalories hiding in every 100 grams. However, you wouldn’t normally consume more than 10 grams in one go because they taste quite bitter.

The cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) is an evergreen tree that only grows in the tropics. The yellow to purple-coloured fruit contain up to 50 seeds called cocoa beans.

How are these so-called nibs produced?

Cacao nibs (sometimes called cocoa nibs) are produced from the raw cocoa bean: after harvesting, the cocoa beans are left to ferment, a process that takes several days. During this phase they develop their unique aroma. Then they are cleaned, dried, shelled and broken into small pieces. Thanks to the gentle production process, cacao nibs contain more of the goodness and nutrients of the cocoa bean than standard chocolate does. These include iron, magnesium, calcium, unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and fibre. A major benefit is that they do without milk and sugar.

Variations of the dish

Cacao nibs taste tart or slightly bitter with an intense cocoa note – similar to dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You can pep up smoothie bowls, muesli, porridge and juices with these pieces of raw cocoa bean. They are a crunchy ingredient for energy balls or muffins, taste great mixed with sweet, dried fruit, in a chia seed pudding or in yoghurt. They can provide an interesting contrast in a winter salad containing walnuts and cheese. If you would like to try this remarkable form of cocoa you will find them in well-stocked supermarkets, health-food shops and on the internet. Cacao nibs will keep for up to two months in a cool and dry place.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de