David Wolfe recalls eating his first fresh cacao bean--the natural form of chocolate--while visiting friends in Hawaii many years ago.

"My friend said, 'Have you eaten one of these?' And as soon as I crunched into it, the cacao god downloaded me the truth about cacao beans in a millisecond," he said.

Wolfe, 35, a raw food expert who resides in Southern California, Manhattan, and Toronto, has degrees in mechanical and environmental engineering and political science. While trying to decide what to do with his life, he earned a law degree from the University of San Diego and became a minister in the Essene Church of Christ, a denomination which says it aims to restore Jesus' teachings on vegetarianism, reincarnation, and the feminine aspect of God. The Essene Church of Christ believes that these teachings were removed from the original New Testament.

But since his awakening in Hawaii, Wolfe has left his post at the pulpit and instead devoted his life to preaching the good word--about chocolate.

Wolfe has counseled celebrities including actor Woody Harrelson (whom Wolfe calls a "cacao head"), and actress Bryce Howard--Ron's daughter--on the raw food diet. His latest book, "Naked Chocolate," which was recently released by Maul Bros. Publishing, celebrates the cacao bean.

Along with his co-author, the British raw food enthusiast known as Shazzie, Wolfe explains the mythology that surrounds cacao, its chemical composition and nutritional capabilities, and its other "interesting" properties (it's a psychedelic). The book also lists dozens of recipes that call for raw cacao.

Wolfe has two other published books about the raw food diet, "The Sunfood Diet Success System" and "Eating For Beauty."

Raw foodists believe that eating uncooked, organic, plant-based food connects human beings to God. "I personally feel that one of the major reasons people are disconnected spiritually, emotionally, psychically, from the earth is because they are eating foods that have nothing to do with God," Wolfe says. He believes that the act of cooking food disconnects people from God.

Wolfe says his love of cacao led him to create a chocolate religion. "I nominated myself the Chocolate Pope," he says. "The only two requirements for joining the chocolate religion are you have to love cacao and you have to help us get a "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" book into every hotel room in the world, because that is the chocolate Bible."

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  • Wolfe is serious about his love of cacao. Followers of his "nondenominational" religion will discover:

    -- People who love chocolate, but have allergies or develop acne reactions to it, will not have those problems with cacao.

    -- Cacao is a chemically complex food and has many nutritional benefits. Wolfe believes that cacao is the principal natural source of magnesium on Earth, containing 18 times more magnesium than blood. Yet, magnesium deficiency is the principal major mineral deficiency in the Western world and can cause heart attacks, he says.

    -- Cacao is higher in vitamin C than any other nut or seed, but 100 percent of cacao's vitamin C is destroyed in the processing of chocolate.

    -- Although chocolate is looked upon as a guilty pleasure, Wolfe says the scientific truth of cacao is quite the opposite. "Cacao is the number-one weight-loss food in the world," he says. "When Atkins comes out with a new bar that says 'new chocolate flavor,' they would make a chocolate flavor even if you hated it because it's an appetite suppressant."