Friday, May 10, 2013

Dairy-Free Chocolate is the Original Chocolate

Those with food allergies might think that dairy-free chocolate is a modern development, created for those who cannot tolerate dairy products or choose not to eat it for personal beliefs.  But, did you know that the original chocolate products, created by the Aztecs, did not contain milk or sugar at all?

The Original Dairy Free Chocolate
In the book The True History of Chocolate, authors Sophie and Michael Coe say the earliest linguistic evidence of chocolate consumption goes back up to four millennia, to pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica, including the Aztecs.

Etymologists trace the origin of the word "chocolate" to the Aztec "xocoatl," a Nahuatl word meaning “bitter water”.  The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means "food of the gods." For several centuries in ancient Latin America, cacao beans were so valuable they were uses as currency. According to a historical 16th Century Aztec document, one cacao bean could be traded for a tamale or 100 beans for a turkey hen.

Cows did not exist in pre-Columbian Mexico, which means the Aztecs did not even have milk or dairy products. Cows came over with the Spanish conquistadors, with whom the Aztecs shared their bitter chocolate drink.  It was too bitter for the European palettes, so milk and sugar were added when the Spanish took the cacao bean and its products back to Europe.

 Adding milk and sugar certainly lessens the health benefits of chocolate, which is why traditional dark chocolate is considered a healthier choice in the modern diet.  Of course, we think that dairy free chocolate is the best. After all, it was really the “original” chocolate!

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