What We’ve Been Eating? Well, Chocolate. Lots And Lots Of Chocolate. Book Review Time! “Superfoods For Life: Cacao” by Matt Ruscigno

October 21st, 2014 - filed under: Furthermore » Reviews


Oh hello, book-all-about-chocolate. Let’s be friends.

So recently MattRuscigno, my ex-vegan-investigating partner in crime, asked me to review his new book, Superfoods For Life: Cacao. And I was like OH TWIST MY ARM FINE, BUT ONLY BECAUSE WE’RE FRIENDSIES and then I ran away and I ate ALL THE CHOCOLATE. For research!

But all joking aside, Matt is so the dude to write this book. The man is legit (registered dietitian with a master’s in public health), but more importantly, one of the things I love most about Matt (and why we work so well together) is that we have a similar approach to food and nutrition. Which is essentially to keep a very open mind, but with the bottom line being: “Okay, but what does the science say?”

And I really appreciate that, in a book like this. Because as it turns out, holy moly, a LOT of research has been done on cacao! Which means there’s this totally comprehensive body of evidence to pull from, and say yeah, actually, cacao is kind of badass!

blueberry cacao smoothie

Blueberry-Cacao Super Smoothie with cinnamon and lemon!

On top of all the incredible information (and there’s tons, truly), the book is also full of delectable and cacao-infused recipes!

75 recipes to be exact, all custom created by Joshua Ploeg, the punk rock vegan chef. And man, does this guy understand something special about flavor pairing. Again and again I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the recipes in this book. For example that simple smoothie up there – it’s blueberry and cacao, which isn’t really anything new. But then with added cinnamon? Okay, I can get behind that . . . but added cinnamon AND lemon? I was skeptical, but boy … I was wrong.

I don’t know how he does it, but like I said – again and again. He has a gift! Like no joke, coleslaw made with CHOCOLATE and DILL. I seriously can’t even. But it’s AWESOME!!

cacao cole slaw

Creamy cocoa coleslaw. For serious. And savory as can be!

Superfoods For Life: Cacao covers all sorts of ways to incorporate cacao into your life, from the classic treats (both raw and cooked), to breakfasts, sides, and the most unexpected of entrees. Make no mistake about it — chocolate can play it straight and hold its own in all sorts of non-sweet dishes.

But more than that, this book will tell you why you should be eating more cacao (and I mean gosh, who doesn’t want to hear that?!)

For example, cacao is a rich source of minerals and antioxidants. It’s anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy. It helps to regulate hormones and to reduce symptoms of fatigue. It has complex and myriad phytochemicals, and it’s a great source of some of the healthiest plant-based fats!

All of these benefits are covered in fascinating detail – with science to corroborate – throughout the book.

fair trade cocoa

One of my favorite things about the book – and since it’s from Matt, whose integrity is razor sharp, I wasn’r particularly surprised – was the section on labor practices and the importance of buying fair trade. He also covers the environmental considerations associated with cacao, and man, I just appreciated this section so much.

There’s a lot that goes into our food systems and our dietary choices. More than just immune-boosting or organic certification. And it’s so refreshing to see these issues tackled both gracefully and articulately.

barbecue sauce from scratch

Chocolate barbecue sauce – my first barbecue sauce from scratch! Mmmm.

And finally, I love that this book is entirely vegan … but that it’s not necessarily advertised as such. It’s not on the cover at all, in fact, which makes this book appealing in a covert food activist kind of way. Like, you could give this book to any omni relative and spin it as a chocolate-love thing, or a healthy-superfood thing, with no mention at all of the fact that it’s 100% plant based!

chocolate jerk tofu

That right up there? That was my favorite dish. That, my friends, is one of the best things I’ve eaten all year. That’s the sauce that prompted me to post this finger-lickin-good Instagram pic.


This Jerk Tofu will be in regular rotation ’round these parts, for years to come. The flavors! Unreal man, just unreal.

cacao jerk tofu

And even better the next day, served cold over toast with Vegannaise and fresh garden tomatoes.

Got a chocolate lover in your life? I think Superfoods For Life: Cacao would make a pretty epic holiday gift! Or, you know, just pick one up for yourself.

It’s worth it for the jerk tofu alone. Trust me!


  • KitteeBeeBerns

    oh yum!!! joshua ploeg has been my buddy for years, and boy are you right about his flavor pairings. the most original cook i have ever met!! I want this book!! awesome! xo kittee

  • http://www.theveganchickpea.com theveganchickpea

    um yes please.

  • Emily

    I’m so intrigued! And yay for a Christmas present for my mom who loves chocolate!

  • Rebecca Carnes

    I’ve been craving chocolate like crazy lately!! Great to know there’s some amazing recipes I can make instead of gobbling down straight chocolate :) I’ll definitely be checking this book out!

  • http://www.VeganRenegade.com/ Hope Hughes

    I’m going to hear him talk tonight at Avocado Cafe! Small world!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Oh man, it’s so true! Now I want to hunt down his previous stuff (zines right?) and play with his recipes. SUCH unique food combinations – really outside of the stuff I normally do. And I feel like I need a little breath of fresh air in my kitchen! ;-D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Haha right?! Not really a hard sell.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    That’s the first thing I thought – SUCH a perfect gifting book. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    You should! There’s a lot of nutritional/medicinal properties in cacao. I say in this case, give your body what it’s craving! ;-)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Joshua or Matt? Either way, that’s awesome!

  • Lindsey

    Ordered!! Super excited to try these recipes for my family of 3. Thanks for this post!!

  • http://www.VeganRenegade.com/ Hope Hughes

    I met Matt! He was super awesome! He thinks the world of you! :D

  • Alanna

    Do you know whether the book is going to be available in bookstores, Sayward, or just online?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    It should be in bookstores! And if you ask I’m sure they can special order it for you. =)

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