The Day I Lost My Natural Products Expo Virginity and Decided To Create A Vegan (and Healthy!) Choco
Cacao contains Tryptophan, which produces serotonin and may promote positive feelings. This clearly explains why I tend to look at the bright side of life almost all of the time. Forget gratitude and positive psychology, chocolate is the answer to eternal happiness. Check out my book and also read this to learn fascinating chocolaty nutrition facts.
For those interested in fashion (more fashion posts to come!), my dress in this picture is from Urban Outfitters and the bracelets are the Bee Charming Strength And Self Assurance Inspiration Bracelets by Max & Chloe.
While this blog post is a chocolate review, I encountered all but one brand (Ojio) for the first time at Expo West this year. It was my first time venturing to the convention center in Anaheim, CA, and it will certainly not be my last! If you love shopping at Whole Foods Market, attending events like the Vegetarian Food Festival in NYC, or are a fellow health-food foodie (or hey, a plain old foodie), you would likely find Expo West as incredible as I did. My eyes and mouth almost deceived me and I would have mistaken Expo West for heaven if not for the person who accidentally stepped on my foot and reminded me that I was indeed still on planet Earth. In heaven people don’t accidentally step on your foot. Am I correct or am I correct? Also, just a 411 about the following chocolates. They are all:
~Vegan ~Natural ~Organic ~Contain superfoods! ~Far superior to processed junk ~Loaded with nutrients from the cacao bean
Let the chocolaty review begin!
My Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Moment: Vegan Chocolates Review* Note #1: I did not meet any oompa loompas nor were any oompa loompas harmed in the making or review of these chocolates. Note #2: Do not be intimidated by the length of this blog post. While I do love words, I clearly love chocolate talk and could not risk reducing the length of this post for fear of having to delete my wordy digressions. Do I make sense? Please tell me I do.
1) NibMor~ 80% cacao? Organic and ethically traded? Yes, yes and oh yes. Did that read like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally in that scene in the restaurant? Chocgasmicccc. Okay now, why else are NibMor chocolates great (even chocgasm)? NibMore Sea Salt (the rare instance in which I consume anything with added salt) and 6 Spice are exceptional. The tasty of these high-quality chocolates is as rich as finely made chocolates come. Well, I have never taste authentic Swiss chocolate so I don’t know if these chocolates taste the best in the world, but they surely are high up on the chocolaty flavor list! All chocolates are Rainforest Alliance Certified, which helps protect the environment and farm families. One thing I am not a huge fan of is that they do contain organic cane sugar, but the chocolates in general are not very sweet, so if this is one of the few sources of real sugar in your life and you are healthy, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with an indulgence like this every now and then, especially when the chocolates are chocgasmic!
2) Ojio everything!~ I have an Ojio obsession. However, I feel that I use the word obsession too frequently and hence, have lost my predilection for its usage both in talking to myself and in everyday language. To avoid displeasing myself, I am going to use the word infatuation. Yes, I have an infatuation with Ojio. Forget romance, I love you Ojio! Who needs boys when you’ve got Ojio in your life. Nope, not me. Hey Ojio marketing staff, did I just help you with a new marketing angle? I do hope so because I want to help this company as much as I can. You see, I use Ojio Tahitian Vanilla instead of vanilla extract in my recipes and wowza, there is a noticeably superior difference in vanilla flavor. Now I know that’s not chocolaty, but I had to mention this because that vanilla-rich information needs to be known to all of the cooking and baking inclined people reading this. Let’s talk about their chocolaty products now. All of them are as high quality as they come. While they do not sell packaged chocolates like the other companies on this list, their cocoa products are ideal for making your own chocolaty wonderfulness. And guys, “Arriba Organic Cacao Powder is made from beans harvested from the native-born heirloom Ecuadorian species Arriba Nacional-Fino de Aroma. This variety of Cacao is considered worldwide to have the finest floral aroma and robust flavor profile, as well as, the highest amount of bioavailable nutrients and minerals.” No wonder when I make my desserts with Ojio ingredients, my desserts tend to pack a more flavorful, rich punch. True love is overrated. I am infatuated with Ojio. “No matter what has happened. No matter what you’ve done. No matter what you will do. I will always love you, Ojio. I swear it.” ~Me.
3) Sacred Chocolates~ Founded by David Wolfe, these chocolates are made in a 100% renewable energy factory in California. Can we say eco-friendly? Why yes, I think we can! Chocolates are slowly stone ground below 115 degrees F and are organic, vegan and kosher. The only thing that isn’t kosher is how quickly I consumed all of mine. They are sweetened with maple, coconut, inulin from the Jerusalem artichoke (I didn’t even know this was possible a second ago!), erythritol and Stevia. Although, of course, not all of these sweeteners are incorporated into all products! That would be a lot of sweetness. Perhaps even too much sweetness for me. Wondering what the healthiest sweeteners are? Then watch this video. I use whole fruit sweeteners in my dessert recipes with a touch of Stevia and maple syrup every now and then, but on occasional it’s blissful to treat myself to yummy chocolates like these! I would say that erythritol, (inulin from the Jerusalem artichoke!!) and coconut are much better than processed sugar or (gasp!) artificial sweeteners. After tasting as many flavors of Sacred Chocolate Hearts as I could get my hands on (quite an undertaking, let me tell you), these are my favs listed in order of my personal taste bud deliciousness preferences: Mocha (I love coffeeee), Holy Hemp (tastes so rich and nutty!), Goji Nibby, Midnight, Amazonian (can I call myself Amazonian after eating this?), Mylk and Immuno Mushroom. Wowza, did I really taste all of those? Yes, yes I did.
4) Coracao Confections~ Before you can say the words, “Copy Cat” I have typed the following verbatim from their website: “We make healthy versions of your favorite junk food chocolates a long with new life experience flavors. Everything is made with unroasted cacao and the most pure & organic ingredients possible. It’s also dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, low glycemic and most importantly, soul satisfyingly DELICIOUS!” I could not have said that better myself, Coracao Confections writers, I could not have said that better myself. Truffles like the Berkeley Bar and Hazelnut Mousse (my favs!) are not only borderline disturbingly delicious when they hit the tongue, but they also contain nutty nutrition in the form of well, raw nuts. They are perfect for fellow chocoholics on the lookout for a special treat!
5) Bearded Brothers~ This description is so long because I had digression issues, not because I hate this company and went on a rant. Let’s begin with the non-digression part: Organic, all natural, raw, vegan, gluten- and soy-free. Compostable packaging! Check out these incredible flavors (Warning: only the first flavor is chocolaty, but they are all 100% scrumptious!): Mega Maca Chocolate, Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla, Colossal Coconut Mango, Fabulous Ginger Peach, Radical Raspberry Lemon, Outrageous Orange Kale. Whomever came up with those names deserves a gargantuan pat on the back. And a high five too. That is pat on the back and high five kind of flavor naming, don’t you agree? Seriously RaDicAL naming. Also, I am from NJ, not California, so I am not sure why the word radical appeared so readily as a word to describe the awesomeness of aforementioned naming (note the extra oomph of valley girl speak with the addition of the word seriously). Radical is more of a California word than a NJ word, right? Do people even use this word anymore? I have so many questions about this word. And here I find myself digressing so easily. Did I just confuse you with the previous three sentences? If so, you may not be alone. In fact, I find myself just a bit confused and 100% digressing. I took the digressing a bit further because I decided to Google “New Jersey lingo” just to see if my home state actually had a unique language like “Valley Girl” speak, which of course originated in California. It turns out that I couldn’t find anything legitimate, but I did find THIS and THIS. You must read them. Both of them.
Okay back to these fabulous bars because it is unacceptable for me to digress on this blog for more than a few minutes, at least according to my own random Love Your Body website rule book. Here we go…the nutritiousness of these bars is tremendous! Sweetened primarily with dates and loaded with nutty goodness in the form of almonds and cashews, plus scrumptious seeds like chia seeds to boot, you might have to try a flavor…or two…or three. Just not all at once.
Above you see a Jonathan Adler Metallic Zebra Dish, flowers from Home Goods and the chocolates I snagged at Expo!
*Disclaimer: Please contact a chocopsychologist if you find yourself experiencing unexpected or unusual chocolaty daydreams or urges. While I am a real person, I am not an expert in the field of chocoholic syndrome or dessert medicine and cannot take responsibility for chocolate cravings. For chocopsychologist recommendations, please turn to page 123 of the Candyland Helpline Phone Book.
P.S. Leave me a comment (or two just because you can!). I want to know what you think of this blog post, your chocolaty or non-chocolaty thoughts or anything else you would like to see more of from me. I am getting ready for more fashion related posts of the comfortable, chic, animal-friendly sort. Stay tuned for healthy recipes, fashion and more! Adios for now.