Thankful for Plant Medicine 3

Celebrating Traditional Cacao in Colorado

When sourced thoughtfully, prepared ceremonially and enjoyed with intention, cacao is a potent medicine. Rich in plant-based iron, antioxidants (40 times more antioxidants than blueberries), magnesium and calcium, raw cacao is a superfood that is a great source of monounsaturated fat, cholesterol-free saturated fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, natural carbohydrates and protein. 

It’s thought cacao was first used as a health elixir and ceremonial medicine as far back as 1900 B.C. by the ancestors of Central America, the Olmec people, before becoming a ritualistic medicine used by the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Signifying both life and fertility, it was ingested by royalty for religious ceremonies and for health and well-being. In its raw form, cacao is often associated with creating feelings of emotional intimacy and pleasure. It has long been considered a luxurious delicacy, especially with the addition of sugar and spices to suit modern palates. Without realizing, we still get to enjoy a small fraction of its potential when we eat cacao in a regular chocolate bar. And yes, this is why it has become associated with romantic gestures and indulgence. 

Here in Fort Collins, The Colorado Cacao Collective imports cacao directly from its natural home, Guatemala, harvested by the Guatemalan people and free of all processing, pesticides and unfair labor practices. Alongside the local indigenous community, the cacao is harvested to provide the highest grade possible, grown in the purest conditions and harvested and prepared with love.

During the ceremony, other elements of relaxation and well-being are used to enhance the experience. An etherial handmade elk skin drum is used to mimic your heartbeat, and beautiful crystal singing bowls are used during a guided meditation. The seven quartz crystal tones singing bowls, each tuned to the specific chakra, are said to bring in a sense of harmony and peace. Through the alignment of the energetic body and the intention to find an overall sense of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, Laura and Lisa guide each participant to set an intention throughout the ceremony. The addition of local hemp-derived and ethically sourced CBD tinctures are added to the cacao by request, provided by a local company called The Luv CBD. 

Scientific Health Benefits 

Cacao is rich in theobromine. Theobroma literally translates as “God food” and potentiates the release of dopamine, the pleasure hormone. This, alongside phenethylamine, which is known to help relieve stress and depression and is released in the body during emotional euphoria, creates heightened sensation and empathy. Alongside these, the high amount of nutrients in the cacao support and nourish the body, whilst also inducing a detoxifying effect on the liver and kidneys.

While a Colorado Cacao Collective cacao ceremony lasts at least two hours, you can make it more accessible and fit it into your schedule by taking a 15-minute pause out of your day and preparing it with the following instructions:

Foundational Ceremonial Cacao Recipe for One Person

1. Heat water to 170 F, or use a nut milk as the base—hazelnut milk, almond milk, cashew milk or coconut milk all make excellent options. Try not to boil the water; just like green tea, you can heat out all the powerful nutrients. Use a handheld thermometer or electric kettle with temperature control. If you’re in a pinch, boil water and let it cool for a few minutes first, or just boil it and then add a cup of cold water to it.

2. Select your dosage with intention. As you’re getting started, it is good to take note of how your body responds to different amounts, as everybody is different.

Everyday dose: 5–12 discs, 1/2 cup water

Ceremonial dose: 12–20 discs, 1/2–1 cup water

3. Make it creamy! Place cacao in a blender, pour 4–5 ounces of heated water per serving and gently blend for 15 seconds to create a delicious, frothy drink. For a single serving, you can also place the discs in a mug and then blend with a handheld milk frother, which requires less cleanup. Traditional methods of mixing cacao in Latin America include molinillos, known as batador in the Philippines. 

4. Keep your eyes open for beautiful mugs and cups. A beautiful vessel to hold your lovingly crafted drinking chocolate adds the perfect finishing touch! Creative suggestions for serving: Drop some pomegranate seeds into your cacao and while drinking, scoop them out with a spoon as a special treat.

Find The Colorado Cacao Collective on Instagram @coloradocacaocollective