Thursday, March 31, 2016

Core Foods - Cashew Cacao bar - Mar. 31, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Core Foods
Cashew Cacao bar
Weight: 3 oz. (85 g.) in 1 package/bar
Calories: 370 calories for 1 package/bar
Cost: $ lost receipt
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week.

This Cashew Cacao Core Meal bar from Core Foods (Oakland, CA) had a substantial heft and texture to it.

It was (very credibly) billed as as a "hearty oatmeal on the go" meal. The vegan, organic and gluten-free bar contained: gluten-free oats, raw cashews, raisins, raw flaxseed, cacao mass, filtered water and vanilla beans.

Core Foods is a not-for-profit company, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a mission to support people with healthy, nourishing food.

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Momotombo - Maranon (Cashews) Milk Chocolate bar - Mar. 30, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolate Momotombo S.A.

Maranon (Cashews) Fine Milk Chocolate bar
Good ++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 3.18 oz. (90 g.) in total bar
Calories: 160 calories (estimate) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $3.75 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocolate Momotombo; Managua, Nicaragua

Maranon (Cashew) y Canela (Cinnamon) Chocolates
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 3.18 oz. (90 g.) in total box
Calories: 160 calories (estimate) in 5 pieces
Cost: $8.00 (estimate) for 1 box
Purchased from: Chocolate Momotombo, Managua, Nicaragua

Fresh Chocolate with Maranon y Ron (Cashew and Rum)
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: .5 oz. (14.1 g.) slice
Calories: 75 calories (estimate) in 1 small piece
Cost: $5.95 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Chocolate Momotombo, Managua, Nicaragua

Welcome to the first day of Chocolate and Cashew Theme Week.

I've come to equate Chocolate Momotombo (Managua, Nicaragua) with good chocolate. Happily, this bean-to-bar maker offers several chocolates that are blended with cashew (maranon, or anacardo, in Spanish), including today's Maranon (Cashews) fine milk chocolate bar; maranon (cashew) and canela (cinnamon) chocolates, and fresh chocolate with maranon (cashews) and ron (rum).

The company specializes in cacao from Nicaragua and local flavor additions (seeds, nuts, fruits). The fresh chocolate is more perishable than a bar, but is unique and worth trying. Looks like fudge, but a bit moister and more fresh tasting.

Read on if you'd like to know more about cacao and cashews...

More about Cacao and Cashews

  • The cashew tree is a tropical evergreen tree that produces an edible cashew seed (nut), attached to the cashew "apple"
  • Cashew fruit (apples) look like an upside down reddish-orange bell pepper - with a greenish "comma" growing out of the bottom.
  • It can grow as high as 14 meters, but the dwarf cashew, growing up to 6 meters, has proved more profitable, with earlier maturity and higher yields.
Chocolate and cashews have several things in common; for example:

  • Cacao "beans" and cashew "nuts" are both, in fact, seeds. 
  • Both grow on trees, and are associated with a unique-looking fruit.
  • Cacao and cashews both grow on tropical evergreen trees within 20 or so degrees from the Equator. 
  • Cacao trees originally came from Central and South America. Cashew trees likely originated in Brazil. Both trees are now grown and processed in other countries—primarily in Africa and Southeast Asia/India.
  • Both seeds are rich (containing 45-50% fat) and delicious, if they are processed correctly.
  • Like many seeds, these two are both high in minerals, such as magnesium and iron. Per ounce*:
    • Cashew nuts = Magnesium (20% of daily value), and Iron (10% of daily value)
    • Dark chocolate = Magnesium (20% of daily value), and Iron (19% of daily value); dark chocolate is also high in Copper and Manganese.
  • Both fruits can be seen in a range of colors (yellow, orange, red, etc.). Cacao fruit starts from tiny 5-petal white flowers that grow directly off the trunk and branches of the tree. Cashew fruit starts with a slightly larger, 5-petal, pinkish-red flower.

However, there are some differences between the two:
  • A cashew is a seed that grows outside (hanging below) the cashew fruit (or "apple"); whereas cacao seeds are packed together inside a cacao pod.
  • Cacao fruit (pulp) and cashew fruit are both edible, although cashew fruit + nuts should be handled with care**. While cacao is protected by a tough, thick outer rind/shell, and slightly bitter seeds, the white pulpy fruit that envelopes the cacao seeds (beans) is both edible and delicious. 
*These are approximate values. Each dark chocolate bar, e.g., varies somewhat in nutritional content, depending on percentage and source.

** In India, cashew fruit is sometimes used to make jams and spreads. However, the material around the nut is quite unpleasant (caustic). The cashew nut covering (attached to the fruit) contains a thick oil/sap (also found in poison oak and poison ivy)—that can cause an itchy skin rash.

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