Antioxidant-Rich Nut Butter, Breakfast Bake, Plus Cocoa Cardio Review & Giveaway

[Your breakfast awaits.]

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or twitter might already know that I’ve spent eight out of the past nine days without my computer. (It was infected with a horrible virus that three computer fix-it guys couldn’t fix; we lucked out on Number Four).  Because my full-time job occurs almost entirely online, and because I also write this blog and write for other websites, and because I am a wee bit addicted to social networking, being without my computer felt a little like an amputation. (Okay, fine, that is a slight exaggeration.  It felt like being thrown into solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison. It felt like being transported to Oslo without any money or any interpretor. It felt like someone had shaved my head and stuck a big “Kick Me” sign on my posterior while I’d been sleeping.)

In the end, my involuntary break allowed me to do a few things around the house I’d previously had no time to do (or had been avoiding): I organized our CD collection, cooked up a bunch of new recipes, taught The Girls a new trick, spent evenings with the HH, finally folded all my sweaters, and even read a book–the paper kind!.  And, as it turned out, the world did not stop spinning because I couldn’t be at my desk for the greater part of the day. And while I wouldn’t wish a computer virus on anyone (well, except maybe for the hackers who created it), the outcome really wasn’t all that bad.  I retrieved most of my stuff (minus a few older files) and I had a few days of more-than-usual introspection and a slower pace.  All good, right?

In fact, my leisurely morning routine from last week is what brings me to today’s post.  During my week after The Crash (no, no, don’t panic; I’m not suddenly prognosticating about the economy. I mean my computer crash, silly!), I also rediscovered the joys of a cooked, hot breakfast (and even on a school day!)

[See all the crinkles on that bag?  That’s because I’ve been using it–a lot.]

Quite some time ago, the lovely folks at iHerb sent over a sample product for me to try (full disclosure: I did not pay for the product, nor was I obliged to write something about it, nor was I obliged to write anything positive).  Today’s foodstuff is from Madre Labs, a company that produces a variety of superfood-based products using whole foods as raw materials.  (They also created the Midori Greens I reviewed a while back).  I tried out a sample of Cocoa Cardio powder, a mix of non-alkalized cocoa powder, beet root powder and hibiscus extract.  Instructions on the bag suggest using it as a beverage (the way you’d sip cocoa or coffee). Of course, when it comes to anything edible, I cannot simply follow instructions!

What I really liked about the Cocoa Cardio was

  • the non-alkalized cocoa contains more polyphenols (heart health-promoting substances) than regular Dutch process cocoa;
  • the powder can be used in the same way as cocoa powder–who says you have to restrict yourself to beverages?;
  • I love beets and was tickled every time I noticed the deep red accent they imparted to the foods I made with it;
  • once sweetened, the powder had a lovely flavor that was almost equally “cacao” and “fruity”;
  • it’s chocolate, people!

The first thing I did was mix up my habitual chia pudding, using a little Cocoa Cardio for additional flavor.  As you can see, the beets made their presence known in the red undertones of this pudding:

The real triumph, however, was a Chocolate Almond Butter made with Cocoa Cardio (and you know how crazy I am about nut butters). I also recently discovered Ashley’s Breakfast Bakes, and with my extra (non-computer) time in the mornings, I decided to treat myself to a version of Carob and Buckwheat Breakfast Bake, bathed in a  cascade of melty nut butter and topped wtih a dollop of Plumberry Jam (about which I’ll post anon).  The combination of moist, crunchy breakfast cake; melty, gooey nut butter; and tart, sweet jam was almost tranformative.

Yes, I’m glad I’ve got my computer back. . . . but just a little sad that treats like this will now be relegated once again to the weekend.

And now you can try some Cocoa Cardio for yourself! 


The Giveaway: Enter the giveaway from iHerb to win one of five pouches of Cocoa Cardio! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what you like about Cocoa Cardio (or any other Madre Labs product).

The contest will remain open until midnight my time on Monday, November 7th, after which time I’ll choose five winners at random and post their names here (so be sure to come back and check if you won!).

The Rules: Winners must be registered at iHerb (it’s free) to be eligible.  If you are outside the US, you may be required to pay shipping charges, depending on the taxes or tariffs of your country.


[Warm, cakey, crunchy, caroby bliss, all bathed in a melted, sweet, chocolate and fruity topping.  Can you think of a better breakfast?]

[“Mum, hang on a second here. . . did you say, ‘taught the Girls a trick’?  But wait. . . how can you teach your daughters a trick?! What happened to three equal beings working cooperatively through our own free will to assure that your slippers are where they should be? It’s a philosophical conundrum. . . I mean, I’ve suspected for quite some time that Chaser and I were adopted, but is there something else I should know. . .  ?! Mum?!”]

Last Year at this Time: SOS Kitchen Challenge for November (Sweet Potato Recipes)

Two Years Ago: Tuscan Bean and Chard Soup (GF; ACD all stages)

Three Years Ago: Roasted Garlic and Pumpkinseed Pesto (GF; ACD, all stages)

Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”

[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]



  1. I love those bakes – but yours look much better than mine and that almond butter sounds so good!
    I love tha picture too; that’s where the phrase “puppy dog eyes” comes from… and I’d be sunk without my computer too, in a big way 🙂

  2. I have yet to try a breakfast break! This one looks particularly yummy!
    Madre Lab’s “Midori Greens” powder looks interesting!

  3. So yum. That looks super delicious. As for what I like about cocoa cardio? It’s chocolate, silly – what’s not to like?!? But, seriously, I’m very intrigued by the beet “fruitiness.” Very intrigued.

  4. mmm I love the addition of cocoa in the almond butter. I just bought sunflower seeds to make my own but was trying to think of ways to dress it up a bit, I’ll definitely be giving this a try!

  5. I have never had a MadreLabs product but I love that it’s Non-Alkalized and that it has beets in it! What a great thing to include to start your morning. Thanks for reminding me about buckwheat bakes – I need to make them again!

  6. Ricki, I didn’t have a computer for a few days (not nearly as long as you!) and I thought I would go crazy. It is insane how much we rely on them now! I am so glad you have yours back and that you found things to occupy your non-computer time 🙂

    What do I like about the cocoa cardio? Ummm…it is chocolate! I would love to try it–I have actually been wanting to try it for a while, but it isn’t available locally anywhere.


  7. I think I would be certifiable without my computer that long! Though I probably would get lots done too.

    I have never heard of Cocoa Cardio.. but would love to try! What do I love about it? Like everyone else.. it’s chocolate! And with the addition of beet it sounds absolutely awesome!

  8. I love anything chocolate so reading this just gets me excited!!

  9. I adore beets, and chocolate, and vegan chocolate-beet cake! Since I indulge in cocoa every day (with Almond Breeze and in oatmeal!) I’d love to find a way to “boost” the superfood potential!

    Glad to hear of such an awesome product too!

  10. I love the anti-oxidant punch this product pacts! I too love beets, in anything. Not only do they support nitric oxide formation, they are also very detoxifying. I am way too addicted to nut butters as well, both recipes look to die for!
    P.S. glad your computer is back!

  11. i would love to try cococardio!

  12. I have been meaning to try those breakfast bakes! Next weekend, maybe! The Cocoa Cardio sounds great and I love the red hue. 🙂

  13. My favorite thing about Cocoa Cardio? I can’t choose – it’s either that it’s chocolate or that it’s pink 🙂 Hope I get to try it!

  14. What do I like about it? um, the chocolate part. =) That looks amazing!

  15. What’s not to like–this makes me really want to try the instant coffee beverage they also have on their site!

  16. I think this is calling my name. Also, I have been wanting to try one of Ashley’s breakfast bakes.

  17. mmm I love that it has cocoa in it… = D

  18. I am very glad you got your computer back with minimal problems. I could probably do with a break like you described! Sounds like a nice side effect of a bad business!

    That combination of cocoa and beets is genius – and the breakfast bakes sound great – does grinding the buckwheat groats make a texture more akin to ground nuts than flour – I have groats and I have buckwheat flour but no coffee grinder so would probably need to do a bit of subbing!

    • The texture is exactly like flour, not ground nuts (it was entirely powder, no crumbs). I did try making a breakfast bake with flour instead of grinding the buckwheat myself, and it worked, but not quite as well (it was slightly undercooked in the middle for some reason). I’m sure you could play a bit with the proportions, though, and come up with an equally good result!

  19. oooh, I can’t tell you what I like most about cocoa cardio, because I haven’t tried it. Chocolate and beets are one of my most favorite combinations, though!

  20. I love that it’s organic and it seems healthy

  21. AlaskaSmiles says

    I didn’t know about MadreLabs so I’ve never tried any of there products! I love the idea of cocoa and beets and it’s alkalized. And, best of all, I love all of your recipes! So yes, I’d love to win so I can try this treat!

  22. What I like is the emphasis on deliciousness along with nutrition, rather than on “healthy” products that taste like you ate something rotten 😛

    This recipe looks incredible, Ricki! Though yes, hellfire and doom on the hackers. The main thing I wanted to ask, though, if what the trick is that you taught The Girls! From the end of your post, it’s the slippers thing, I think?

    • Ha, ha! The trick (shh, don’t tell Elsie it’s actually a trick), is a variation on “get my shoe,” which Elise loves and Chaser is just coming round to know. I tried to refine to “slipper” (versus running shoe). Mostly successful. .. . still needs a bit of work. 😉

  23. Oh this looks yummy!

  24. I’ve never had any MadreLabs products, but I would love to try! I would definitely want to make some of that chia seed pudding with it 😀

  25. I love the idea of combining cocoa with beets (YUM!!). What I like best is that the cocoa in CocoCardio is non-alkalized. Bring on those anti-oxidants!!

  26. Cool! I love how there’s beet powder mixed with the cocoa! Would love to try it.

  27. I would love, love, love to try this..thanks so much for the giveaway!

  28. Oops I got so excited that I forgot to write what I liked so much about the product…I love that I can use it in place of cocoa powder..I think I would try it in my smoothies! 🙂

  29. Mmm, that nut butter is calling my name! I’d never heard of Madre Labs, but just checked out their website and now I want to trial everything! That powder sounds so interesting, and I’ve always loved the blend of beets and chocolate. I wonder if they’d consider coming out with a carob version?

  30. I use cocoa powder every day, so I would love to try the powder that you tried!

  31. I would love some beet-y cocoa powder! I’m vegan and my husband recently found out that he can’t have gluten, so I’ll be using your blog a lot– everything looks so good!

  32. chocolate…. and beets?!?! i’m in love.

  33. I find it intriguing that it has beets in it. And I love that it’s non-alkalized.

  34. Mostly I love that it’s chocolate! But I’m very intrigued by the hibiscus addition, I’d love to try it.

  35. I like anything chocolate, as is the popular consensus!

  36. I can’t wait to try it! I love chocolate! 🙂

  37. I haven’t used the product but am always excited to find healthier means of consuming chocolate (and an excuse to eat beets). I can say that I really like using iHerb for products. I’ve gotten some great stuff from them; it’s great to find a bunch of supplements one can’t find elsewhere.

  38. I love the fact that it’s organic, includes a heart healthy chocolate and cancer-fighting beets… Being a melanoma cancer survivor (and now awaiting the possible C-word again as I had a punch biopsy done 2 days ago…), I am doing EVERYTHING I can possibly do, by the grace of God and people like you, to do the BEST for my body. I so hope I get a chance to try this out!!!

  39. What I love is that it’s non-alkalized cocoa with beets, sounds like it would be perfect for a red velvet creation 🙂

  40. It’s CHOCOLATE. Which means love.

    And oh, it’s healthy too. 🙂

  41. I’d never heard of Cocoa Cardio before, but it sounds like a really unique and tasty product! Would love to try some.

  42. i love that this cocoa cardio is so versatile and can be used for everything from baking to a hot drink!

  43. I would love cocoa cardio because I am a chocoholic!!

  44. Beet cocoa butter? Be still my beating heart.

  45. Well, seeing as I blend up a smoothie every single morning, I think I would put this powder to good use. 🙂
    I’m also always trying to incorporate more veggies into my smoothies and beets into my overall diet, so this powder would accomplish twofold. Plus it would give me a good excuse to try those decadent-looking breakfast bakes.
    Thanks for the wonderful blog, as always, Ricki!

  46. I used Midori greens in my smoothie this mornong. I love Madre Labs products ♥.

  47. Vitor Duarte says

    I use Chococeps in my red fruit smoothie everyday and a scoup of acai. It gives me the energy I need for the day.

  48. Angela Cunningham says

    Hi! I have yet to try this product.It looks good!I have Crohn’s disease and because of this I am constantly looking for healthier choices to add to my diet.Sooo many preservatives and chemicals out there..Good luck everyone 🙂

  49. I love coco cardio!! I use it every morning in my chia oats or at night as hot cocoa with some coconut milk & stevia! 🙂

  50. Happy to hear you were able to retrieve most of your files! That’s the worst part about computers crashing. Your buckwheat bake looks delicious! Those have been on my list of things to make for a while. 🙂

  51. This looks awesome! I love your idea of mixing with almond butter, and am also in love with chocolate nut butter, but won’t buy the non-organic, unhealthy Nutella stuff.

    So,.. raw, organic, with hibiscus? What’s not to love?

  52. I know how you feel, no electricity for 5 days because of snowstorm in NY. Finally catching up on my online world. I’ve never heard of cocoa cardio and am so curious how it tastes with that beet flavor, yum!

  53. I love the products from Madre Labs, especially the Coco-caps. Looking forward to trying this one.

  54. my interest is peaked on this coco cardio! i would love to bake up some red velvet cupcakes with this 🙂

  55. I’ve never had Cocoa Cardio, but I’m sure I’d love it. Chocolate and beets work so well together. Just as Jess commented, this would be perfect for red velvet cupcakes.

  56. CocoCardio is new to me, thanks for the introduction. What do I like best? I like it all equally- cocoa, beets, and hibiscus. Dessert isn’t dessert without cocoa or chocolate. We are still eating sweet beets freshly pulled from our garden. And I make hibiscus tea from the dried petals. I’d love to try this mix.

  57. I love that it’s made with beets!

  58. I love all things chocolate so I’d love to try this product!!

  59. Haven’t tried these products but would love to!

  60. I have yet to try this, but now I am really really intrigued. 😉

  61. Haven’t tried it yet, but would love to add it to my green smoothies!

  62. I’ve never tried it but it sounds divine! I love beets and I love chocolate… so I can’t find a reason why I wouldn’t like this! Thanks!

  63. I like that I could sneak more healthfulness into treats for myself and my love (who hates beets!).

  64. I like that it is very low in sugar and made with Hibiscus Extract!

  65. I’ve never heard of the Cocoa Cardio and I’ve tried a lot of healthy products! This product looks amazing. I hope to win a bag so I can make some of those yummy looking bakes.

  66. I made these recently using buckwheat flour. i didn’t have any cocoa cardio so I used the suggested substitution. I also don’t own a loaf pan or ramekins so I just baked them in muffin tins. All in all it turned out well because I’m about to make another couple batches today. This recipe is perfect for make ahead breakfasts I can pull out of the freezer. I’ll keep the sauce separate and add when I warm it. I’m thinking about making some sort of vegan cream cheese topping for it. I’ll experiment. Thanks for all your great recipes!

    • So glad they worked out for you! I love these for breakfast when I want something a little indulgent-tasting. And yes, great to have some to store in the freezer, too! 🙂


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