5 ways to use cacao powder

Author: Grow Team
Date: 07/07/2018
Category: Nutrition

Happy World Chocolate Day! Yes, apparently, it’s a thing – and we’re definitely planning to celebrate with a chocolatey treat (or two). So we’ve written a quick blog to share some of our favourite recipes using cacao for a healthier way to get your chocolate fix.


Wondering why we opt for cacao powder instead of cocoa? Basically, it undergoes much less processing, so contains many more of the nutrients and antioxidant power of the cacao bean than cocoa powder. What’s more, cocoa powder you find in supermarkets often has sugar or other sweeteners mixed in – so if you do buy it, look for a dark, unsweetened version. The same goes for dark chocolate and milk chocolate – dark chocolate contains more of the natural benefits of the cacao bean, whereas milk chocolate is more diluted by sweeteners, milk and cream. Look for dark chocolate containing at least 75% cocoa, without added milk products or sugars.

Cacao protein balls

Ingredients (makes about 10 balls)

1.5 cups cashews or ground almonds

1 cup pitted dates (tip: if not using mejdool dates, then soak them in hot water for a few minutes, then drain, to soften them up)

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tbsp hemp protein powder

1 tbsp chia or ground flax seed


Blitz the nuts and dates separately in a processor, then mix together alongside all of the other ingredients. You should get a sticky, dough-like mixture that is easy to roll into balls. Pop into the freezer and once set, keep in the fridge in an airtight container.


This is a really basic recipe for protein balls – you can get creative and add in/swap out ingredients depending on your preferences.

Healthy chocolate ice cream

Ingredients (3-4 servings)

3 large ripe bananas

2-3 tbsp dark cacao powder

Peel and chop your bananas into small slices and pop into the freezer for at least 3-4 hours. When they are fully frozen and hardened, put them into your food processor – after a couple of minutes it will look like soft-serve ice cream. Add in the powder and blend again. Transfer to a container and put back in the freezer for an hour before serving.

Optional toppings or extra ingredients:

Flaked almonds and cacao nibs

Dates and peanut butter

Chunks of dark chocolate

Nuts and berries

Extra fruit

Protein shake with cacao

Ingredients (1 serving) – add all to blender or smoothie maker:

1 frozen banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1-2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 scoop vegan protein powder (plain, vanilla or chocolate would work great)

Optional: for a thicker shake, add in ¼ cup oats (soak them in water or almond milk for 10 minutes or so beforehand, so that they blend smoothly). You could also add chia seeds, or a tablespoon of nut butter to incorporate some healthy fats

Cacao oatmeal

Ingredients (1 bowl)

½ cup oats

1 tbsp cacao powder

2/3 to 1 cup oat milk

Banana (mashed)

Add all ingredients to a small pan and heat on low-medium heat until it reaches the consistency you like. Optional toppings: cacao nibs, nut butter, nuts or seeds, fruit. You could also add in a scoop of hemp protein powder if you’re eating breakfast after a workout.

No-bake cacao granola bars

Ingredients (make 12 bars):

1.5 cups oats

1 cup nuts, roughly chopped

1 cup walnuts

1.5 cups pitted dates (soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain)

¾ cup cacao powder

¼ cup nut butter

Blitz nuts in a food processor until they achieve a loose meal consistency, then set aside. Process the dates until they form a soft dough, then add the add the ground nuts back in along with the cacao powder. Mix in the nut butter (heating it will make it easier to stir in), then once everything is all thoroughly combined, transfer to a small pan lined with baking paper. Press down firmly to even out the top, then freeze to harden for about 15-20 minutes. Cut into 12 bars and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.


Hope you enjoy testing out some of the recipes above! And if you indulge a bit tooooooo much, snap yourself out of a chocolate-induced food coma by joining us for a class – book in here

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