Here is what a cacao pod looks like.
It can range in color, size and texture depending on where it's grown and the type of gene (see types of Theobroma trees below). The Theobroma tree stands 4-8 meters tall and is native to the Americas. Within each pod you'll find 20-60 seeds which contain 40-50% cocoa butter, the fatty component in cacao. The bean contains 10% polyphenols, much of which is disease-fighting epicatechin. Within the seed there is 1% theobromine which is one of the substances that gives you the blissful feeling after you've eaten dark chocolate.
There are three types of Theobroma trees:
- Mesoamerica origin
- Less bitter
- Represents 5-10% of chocolate today
- Pointy pods, warty, plump shape, mellow complex taste
- Represents 80% of chocolate today
- Began in Amazon basin 18th century
- Thick skinned pods, smooth, rounded, flat shaped beans, bitter harsh taste
- Blend of criollo and forastero
- Represents 10-15% of chocolate today
How Chocolate is Made From the Tree to Chocolate
The Theombroma tree sprouts flowers and the flowers sprout pods. The pods yield a sweet white pulp and seeds. The seeds are removed from the fruit-like pulp (which is eaten in some countries and quite delicious!). The seeds are then fermented and dried. From there the seeds may be roasted or left raw. The cacao nibs are removed from the seeds they can be eaten as is or ground into a chocolate liquor. At this point additives such as sugar, spices or other flavorings can be added to create a variety of chocolates!
Calling all chocolate lovers! Join us each Thursday as we explain exactly why you should be eating dark chocolate every day for good health. Before we begin the journey, it's important to know why chocolate was so important in ancient Mesoamerican history. For centuries, its been used for its medicinal properties, before there was any research to back the anecdotal homage. Here are some fun facts about cacao and how it was used by indigenous cultures before it became what we know today as chocolate.
But first, we should let you know that any orders place today through Sunday will receive a free sample of our Chocolate Chip Power Bites! No discount needed, we will automatically add them into your package.
Okay, read on...
- Theobroma tree:” food of the gods” was named in 1737
- Some scientists believe that cacao's origin is from Mesoamerica, which included Central and South Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and western Honduras, while other scientists believe its origin is from South America.
- Analysts have detected cacao in pottery that was used in ceremonial rituals from Mesoamerica dating all the way back to 600-400 BC.
- Cacao was illustrated as a symbol of wealth and power in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
- Gifts of cacao were exchanged during agricultural ceremonies to help produce healthy and abundant crops. The Theobroma tree thrives on water, the shade of other trees and helps to preserve rain forests, therefore provides a healthy eco-system.
- A traditional drink of cacao and corn was offered during marriage ceremonies representing wealth, success and fertility.
- The Florentine Codex (a manuscript depicting the history of Central Mexican society) noted an Aztec remedy using cacao, corn and spices that were used to decrease a fever, shortness of breath and heart disease in 1590.
- Cocoa brought to Europe in the 16th century
- When the Spanish brought cacao back to Europe from Mesoamerica in the 16th century, they created over 100 medicinal uses using the seed.
“where there is cacao, there is life”-Venzuelan plantation worker
Want some potent chocolate? Check out our 75% organic and fair trade Mocha Munch below. It's been out top seller since it's launched!
Happy New Year!
Looking for the easiest New Year's resolution ever? We have your answer...eat more dark chocolate! Eating 1 - 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily is good for you because chocolate may help to:
1. Lower blood pressure
2. Boost HDL (good) cholesterol
3. Curb your appetite and maintain a healthy weight
4. Increase cognitive function (aka boost brain power)
5. Relieve stress (and decrease stress hormones)
6. Reduce inflammation
7. Decrease risk of stroke
8. Boost your mood
9. Increase exercise capacity
10. Curb sugar cravings
Bonus #11! Get glowing skin.Do we have you convinced? Here is what a 1-ounce serving looks like:
Today take 15% off your purchase with discount code EatMoreChocolate. Discount code ends Sunday, January 8 11 pm PST.
Want to know more about chocolate and all of its powerful benefits? Follow our blog - keep an eye out next Thursday for the detailed chocolate scoop where we will dive deeper into each health benefit. Cheers!
Love and light to you for a peaceful, blissful and cheerful new year!
There is still time to bring on some holiday cheer with chocolate! Today and tomorrow, use discount code holidaycheer for 15% off your purchase.
Discount code ends Sunday, December 18 11pm PST. Order by Wednesday, December 21, 12 pm EST for Christmas delivery.
We have been sending out our gift boxes all month and here is what one happy recipient of our Munch Gift Box had to say after receiving her gift:
"Mouthgasm: (noun) When taste meets major mouth watering resulting in a most enjoyable sensation. Nicobella is really swella"-Jolie, WIMunch Gift Box includes:
Coconut Munch, Maple Nut Munch, Omega Munch, Mocha Munch and Peppermint Munch, $29.95Or if you know someone who is a health-conscious snacker, vegan, nut and seed enthusiast or foodie then try our Plant-Protein Snack Box.
Plant-Protein Snack Box includes:
Coconut Munch, Maple Nut Munch, Omega Munch, Peanut Butter + Jelly Power Bites, Pumpkin Pecan Power Bites, Chocolate Chip Power Bites, $34.95Our best selling chocolates for the holidays are nicobella truffles. When you purchase a 2 pack of truffles (two 6-piece boxes) we will wrap them in a ribbon and include a truffle brochure with ingredients and descriptions of each truffle. Choose fromblueberry almond, ginger green tea, pumpkin chai, pure cocoa bliss, walnut flaxseed,sunflower butter banana or cinnamon turmeric spice (also known as holiday spice).$23.95Looking for a simple, no-bake dessert recipe for your holiday party? Try our Rustic Raw Truffles recipe made with nicobella hot cocoa mix, walnuts and hemp seeds. Shhh...they will never know they are healthy!Wishing all of you a very healthy, peaceful and happy holiday season!
Ps. Please note that we will not be shipping any orders from Friday, December 23 through Wednesday, December 28. Please order and plan accordingly!
When you were a kid did you lick the bowl of the chocolate cake batter clean? Me too. And the spoons and the spatula. Well these healthy little truffle bites will remind you of those nostalgic days of helping mom bake your chocolate birthday cake when you got to clean the utensils with your tongue.
Using our super chocolatey and rich hot cocoa plus high omega walnuts and hemp seeds, this recipe is simple, healthy and will make your holiday party guests extremely giddy and blissful.
- 3/4 c nicobella hot cocoa mix
- 1/2 c Raw walnuts
- 1/4 c hemp seed
- 1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- extra cocoa mix for coating truffles or cacao nibs or cinnamon and coconut sugar (I tried all! They were all yummy.)
Blend all ingredients in a blender. Use a spatula in between blending to scrape dry ingredients off sides of blender until all dry ingredients are moist and blended together. Once blended, scoop into a bowl. Using your hand or a teaspoon scoop out the mixture and roll into 1" round balls (Rustic is good! They don't have to be perfectly round.) Place the truffles on a plate in preparation for rolling them in your roping of choice. If they are too soft to roll you can cool them in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Roll the truffles into the cocoa mix, nibs and/or cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place on a pretty plate and enjoy!
Just a little reminder to place your chocolate orders by December 21, 12 noon ET to ensure that you receive your chocolate gifts by December 24!
Need help finding the perfect gift for someone? Email us at email@example.com.
In the meantime, these are our top suggestions:
Mocha and/or Peppermint Munch
We promise that you won't disappoint with these two flavors. Since we have launched them two months ago they continue to sell out first at events and in stores. They make great stocking stuffers, teacher's and secret santa gifts. Hot Cocoa
Who doesn't love a warm and comforting cup of hot cocoa? Our hot cocoa is made from a pressed (non-alkalized and nutritious) Dominican Republic cacao bean with a little added organic cane sugar and pink Himalayan sea salt. We suggest making it with unsweetened Almond Milk, but any plant-based milk will do. Purchase now through December 21 and receive it wrapped in a red ribbon, ready to gift! 2-pack of trufflesSelect your flavors for the friend who loves nuts and chocolate (walnut and blueberry almond), the chocolate purist (two boxes of pure cocoa bliss) or the adventurist foodie (two variety boxes to try them all). These are our top sellers every holiday season. Get yours while they last!The Story of Bella (of nicobella)
We had to say goodbye to our sweet little girl after 17 long and beautiful years. She was the inspiration behind the name nicobella ten years ago when we just incorporated the name. The original name of nicobella was Spa Candy (and still remains the parent name) until a smart and honest branding company came along and said that Spa Candy sounds like sweet sticky stuff for kids, which was clearly not our goal. A good friend came up with the name nicobella, half Nichole and half Isabella. Personally, I did not want my name to be a part of the company, but, if you knew me and Bella, well you knew we were pretty inseparable. Therefore the name felt right. (Big thanks to this day to my dear friend, Julia, for including Isabella in the name.)
Bella was much more than an inspiration for the name of a chocolate company.
Read more about our sweet girl, her fight and lessons she taught us on our blog from last week. Bella says thank you for all of your continued support for the past seven years since we launched nicobella. 🐾
- She had a powerful warrior spirit with no sense of fear.
- She smiled from her mouth to her eyes creating a chain of smiles from strangers on the streets.
- She acted like the Queen. She didn't let her 6.9 tiny size affect her confidence.
- She was open and adventurous, loved to explore and travel.
- She fully embraced love, both receiving and giving, which gave her the will to fight several severe illnesses and extend her life three years past what her doggie doctor originally predicted.
An Ode to Our Baby: Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our little girl and best friend of 17 years, Isabella (7 years for Ricky, but it could have been 17 years given how much they loved each other). She was quirky and silly yet chill and gentle. She was confident-walked like she owned the streets. She was intelligent, an old wise soul (those who didn’t know her would often comment about her old soul). And she was the feistiest little 6.9 pound nugget.
But her signature was her smile. Bella touched every person that met her, even strangers. Rarely did someone walk by without commenting ‘That dog is smiling!' She smiled fully with her mouth and eyes. She radiated much light, love and happiness. Her other signature characteristic was her crossed legs. Always laid down like a little lady.
She loved to travel. We found each other in Georgia, moved to Philly then to LA and back to Georgia where she laid her little head to rest. We never left each others side. She would jog with me in the morning then come back to play with her favorite Scooby Doo Ball that was bigger than her. She had more frequent flyer miles than most people. Passengers were in awe of her ability to be so chill and quiet on the plane naming her the Zen or Buddha Dog (drug free). She loved to go hiking, camping, biking in the basket, boating, sneaking into dinner with us (and other various places) and traveling to Veg Fests in different cities representing NicoBella. She loved receiving kisses on her forehead and nose and giving kisses on the nose and eyes. She loved watching The Seahawks with her dad. She loved experiencing new things and actually thought she was cool jumping onto a hotel bed for the first time. She loved to share apple and peanut butter, sweet potatoes and oatmeal with me but her favorite meal was pasta with red sauce.
Her legacy of late was her strength. It’s been an ongoing joke with family and friends that Bella will probably outlive all of us. She was strong and determined with a fierce will to live. She had visited more doctors than she’d like the past year and every one of them had commented saying that, despite being poked and prodded, she either didn’t feel pain or she was the strongest little girl they had met. Despite being diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2013, and a prognosis of NO MORE THAN 6 months to live, she survived more than three more years. Two years ago she found herself with nerve damage and became paralyzed in her backend. The vet suggested a wheelchair if she wasn't better in a week since surgery was not an option and ability to recover from her nerve damage seemed grim. With a chiropractic visit (thank you Drs Kristy and Shoshana) and daily doggie yoga (which she loved) combined with her strong will, although a little unsteady, she walked again by the end of the week. This past summer she had a horrible stent with pancreatitis which is typically treated with a week of hospitalization and tons of fluids (the OPPOSITE of her treatment for CHF). After one day of minimal fluids the doctors sent her home and said they can't do anything else for her and suggested letting her go. I wanted to let her go, felt she had been through enough, but Ricky insisted we wait since she was on heavy doses of pain killers and he felt that was clouding our ability to asses her. Well, by the next morning she was begging for treats. This dog literally fought for her life with every incident. She wouldn’t let go and continued to smile until she became blind about two months ago. We feel that being blind really crushed her little spirit and will to live as she started giving us signs that she was ready. She was finally tired of fighting.
Ricky and I feel that it was a gift to be there with her as she passed peacefully in her favorite spot-on our bed with her favorite blankets surrounding her.
She is now at peace but her little feisty spirit remains within us. She taught us that:
-smiling is contagious, smile at everyone even strangers
-forehead kisses are comforting and soothing, give them often
-there is no room for fear, be curious and experience everything
-you can be silly and playful yet gentle and quiet
-you can fight almost anything if you love life and have a will to live
-surrounding yourself with love helps to heal
-if you want something bark for it🐾
We will miss you sweet Bella❤️Until we meet again...
Long days at work
& Endless To-do List
often equates to drinking large amounts of coffee. Before you stop reading this, thinking a dietitian is yelling at you for your coffee habit, I am actually reminding you that coffee is a very healthy beverage in its natural form.
Did you know that Coffee:
- Is Loaded with antioxidants
- Has been showed to boost the metabolic rate
- May lower your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Has beneficial nutrients (manganese, potassium, panthothenic acid and riboflavin)
Did you know Chocolate:
- Is loaded with minerals (iron, magnesium, copper, manganese)
- Powerful source of antioxidants
- May improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
- Is great for your skin
All of these health benefits come from the beans of both coffee and chocolate plants. So what if they were combined to make a energizing and delicious chocolate treat with all of these health benefits?
To my surprise, it was done. Nicobella organics uses 75% organic and Fair Trade dark chocolate and added Brewing Good Coffee Company's organic and Fair Trade coffee nibs to make a Dark Chocolate Mocha Munch. Not only do they use the dark chocolate to get all of the benefits but they use the coffee nibs to create a powerhouse munch option. What's more, both companies are animals lovers and donate a percentage of sales to their favorite animal rescues. So, you can feel good about each bite knowing that you are doing something great for yourself AND for animals.
Eating the chocolate with coffee nibs brings about all of the healthy benefits and is a great treat to have at your holiday parties. Try a bag today and let me know what you think!
Written by Rebecca Vander Sluis
Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian with a passion to inspire healthy living around the world. Currently she works with Corporate Health Partners doing nutrition coaching through the Atlanta area. One of Rebecca's passion is traveling around the world learning about food and culture. Follow her adventures on Instagram dietitian_becky.
We hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving with family and friends. Now it's time to start the holiday shopping! Today through Monday, November 28, receive $5, $10 or $20 off your chocolate purchase using the discount codes below. Discount codes end Monday, November 28 11pm ET.NEW! Nicobella Gift Boxes are great for foodies, health enthusiasts, vegans, gluten free and paleo followers and, of course, dark chocolate lovers. Choose from one of the gift boxes below.
Nicobella Chocolate Lovers Gift BoxFor the ultimate chocolate lover who will appreciate the unique chocolate flavors! Each box includes a 6-piece variety box of truffles (blueberry almond, ginger green tea, pumpkin chai, pure cocoa bliss, walnut flaxseed, sunflower butter banana), 6-piece box of cinnamon turmeric spice and a 4-piece box of peanut butter squares.Chocolate Munch Gift Box
Our munch gift box is great for vegans, gluten free followers or nut and chocolate lovers. Gift box includes one of each: coconut munch, maple nut munch, omega munch, peppermint munch, mocha munch
Plant-Powered Protein Snack Box
Our protein packed snack box is great for paleo enthusiast, the generous host or health-conscious snackers. Gift box includes one of each: coconut munch, maple nut munch, omega munch, chocolate power bites, pumpkin pecan power bites, peanut butter and jelly power bites
Ps. Don't forget to treat yourself as well.
Are you ready for your Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends? Here are some cruelty-free ideas to make your guests feel extra special. Today through Sunday, November 20, take 15% off your order with discount code THANKSGIVING. Discount code ends Sunday, November 20, 11pm ET. Pumpkin Chai Truffles for Dessert
About: Organic pumpkin, a great source of beta carotene, is mixed with just the right amount of natural sweetener and spice for a delicious treat reminiscent of chocolate pumpkin pie. Made with organic and Fair Trade 70% dark chocolate.
Benefits: Pumpkin is a fantastic source of carotenoids, which are antioxidants that help to maintain skin tissue and prevent wrinkling. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with nutrients such as potassium, zinc and essential fatty acids.
A Little Gift at Each Table Setting
Place a cute 2-piece box of truffles or a bag of maple nut munch at each table setting as a fun way to let your friends and family know you are grateful for them.
Warm and Cozy Cup of Hot Cocoa
We love our hot cocoa with unsweetened almond milk, but any plant-based milk will make this nutrient-rich, pressed cacao powder even more rich and delicious. Top with dark chocolate shavings or drop a pumpkin chai truffle in the hot cocoa for pumpkin chai chocolate bliss!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving week with family and friends💜