If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one item with me for all of eternity, chances are pretty good it would be chocolate.
My obsession with chocolate began when I was very young, with my first kiss.
My first Hershey’s Kiss, to be exact.
It was the early 70s – the apex of Betty Crocker nation – so the chocolate of my youth was overly-processed, mass-produced and chemically engineered. Most cocoa confections from that era were waxy, artificially colored, falsely flavored and enjoyed a shelf life of approximately three centuries.
But oh the clink of my grandpa’s glass candy jar as he reached in to grab me that Kiss. The crinkle of the wispy foil. The bite-size lump of loveliness. The melty lingering sweetness and joy.
That was love.
But I’m grown up now, and my palette isn’t the only thing that has become more discerning. I really care about everything that I eat, that my family eats…even the treats. We try to favor organic cookies and small-batch local gelato whenever possible.
And these days, we can even have our chocolate and eat it too!
Because chocolate is finally having a rebirth, a karmic retribution, a homecoming party. Everywhere you turn, the health benefits of dark chocolate are being regaled left and right.
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improve your cardiovascular health
- Increase your insulin resistance, making you less likely to develop diabetes
- Reduce your chance of many chronic diseases with its antioxidants
- Boost your mood by increasing serotonin levels.
How sweet is that?
In the last few years there’s been a veritable explosion of artisan chocolatiers on the scene. But a taste test (or two, or ten) and a closer look at ingredients reveals that they’re not all created equal.
A lot of bars out there might taste delicious, but they aren’t all that healthy. Some of them are “all-natural” which sounds nice, but doesn’t mean much. Almost all of them are high in sugar and low in naturally-occurring nutrients that get lost in the processing. Dark chocolate is good, but raw, unrefined dark chocolate is even better. The only trick is that it can be hard to find.
A few months ago, I made it my mission to find a chocolate bar that is raw, organic, responsible, sustainable, minimally refined and criminally delicious.
So I sampled upwards of thirty of these new-fangled chocolate bars on the market. In most cases, it was necessary to consume the entire bar to really confirm or deny my initial suspicions about the quality of the chocolate in question. I took it for the team, so to speak – sacrificing myself for the sake of science. It was painful and arduous, but after careful investigation and taste-bud saturation, I have found two bars that fit all of my criteria:
What it is – Smooth, elegant, rich. You’ll be an instant fan.
The truly inspiring backstory – Two foodie moms with a passion for healthy, gourmet, raw foods experiment in their kitchen to cook up a chocolate recipe that satisfies their sky-high standards of flavor, texture, healthiness, and sustainability. Pure7’s fan base grows so quickly, they can barely produce fast enough to meet demand. But they do…all while maintaining the quality and integrity of their core values and their chocolate.
Distinguishing features – Honey-sweetened, subtle and beautiful ingredients like Himalayan Pink Salt and cinnamon.
Go to – When you crave a sweet but healthy treat.
My favorite flavors – Peppermint and Salty Almond.
Right now they have a tasty special – buy five bars of any flavor and get one free. That’s sweet too!
What it is – Not your ordinary chocolate bar experience. But if you can suspend your expectations, you’ll find these bars righteously amazing. They have an array of textures and a distinct cacao flavor.
The truly inspiring backstory – Breast cancer survivor passes along everything she knows about about high-frequency foods and how whole foods, consumed close to their natural state, can be healing. Her mission is to make superfoods accessible and delicious, educate the public, and collaborate with sustainable organizations across the globe.
Go to – When you’re in the mood for something a little sweet and a little snackier. When you want the sensation of eating food, not just candy.
My favorite flavors – Acai and Caramel
I could write a book about all the health benefits of chocolate, but really it comes down to this:
It just tastes so freaking good.
And since pleasure is healthy, I think chocolate should be re-classified as a medicine. Couldn’t we all use that sweet prescription?
Take two squares and call me in the morning.