This month (American Heart Month) we’re keeping our heart healthy with some good-for-you-and-your-soul foods like berries, nuts, wine and dark chocolate dark chocolate here and there (in moderation, of course). After all, Valentine’s Day is this month and we couldn’t let it pass without a little chocolate fix!
While many view chocolate as an unhealthy treat, if it is from a proper source with simple ingredients, it can be beneficial to your body due to the levels of antioxidants it provides.
When searching for the ideal dark chocolate, here are some important things to consider:
When looking for chocolates at the store, the first ingredient should never be sugar! If and when sugar is a part of the ingredient list, look for ones with minimal grams (around 8g or less per ½ bar), opting for either organic cane sugar, or in the best case, a natural sugar like coconut, raw honey or organic maple syrup.
Number of ingredients
Keep things on the simple side. At the end of the day, the best part of the chocolate bar is the cacao itself; which aids in stimulating theheart, reducing high blood pressure and lowering our cholesterol. A great example of simple minimal ingredients is Eating Evolved’s coconut butter cups which include only SIX ingredients.
Take into account not only the company and their values but where the company sources their ingredients, how they treat their workers and if the product is Fair-Trade and/or organic. Aim to eat the most unprocessed or raw forms possible.
The higher the percentage of cacao and darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants released to your body and the less sugar in the bar itself. Look for bars with 70% or higher!
1. Pascha Chocolate
Focusing on minimalism and purity of their chocolate, Pascha Chocolate uses ingredients only found in nature like fine aroma cocoa beans, vanilla, fruit and sugar cane. Every ingredient used is not only fully organic but also is able to be traced back to its origin! They make a variety of delicious treats from rice milk chocolate bars, a chocolate fruit spread and mini dark chocolate bars free of from seven common allergies: peanuts, nuts, dairy, soy, eggs, wheat and gluten.
Our favorite Pascha product:
Their 85% Cacao 3.5oz. Chocolate Bar
2. Eating Evolved
Eating Evolved has taken the word “chocolate” and put new meaning behind it. They view chocolate not as candy, but as food instead, by using the highest quality ingredients possible. Not only are their products gluten, dairy and soy-free but they’re also paleo and have no refined sugar! Unlike other brands, Eating Evolved uses coconut sugar to lightly sweeten their chocolate bars and coconut butter cups. One of Eating Evolved’s coconut butter cups only contains 4g of coconut sugar, as opposed to other brands with 10 to 20g.
Our favorite Eating Evolved product:
The dairy-free Hot Chocolate made with Vital Proteins Grass-fed Collagen
3. Equal Exchange
Not only does Equal Exchange master the art of making chocolates delicious, but they create a selection of other fair-trade products from coffee to bananas. By maintaining Fair Trade Practices, they practice direct trade relationships and long term contracts between importers and producer groups and source from small-farmer or artisan co-operatives. By being organic, they prohibit the use of dangerous pesticides and herbicides. Their chocolate comes in a variety of flavors from Organic Dark Chocolate Orange and Organic Dark Chocolate Mint Crunch to Organic Extreme Dark Chocolate with 88% Cacao, so there’s a little something for everyone.
Our Favorite Equal Exchange product:
Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (70% Cacao)
But don’t forget to snag their Organic Dark Chocolate Hearts this month for Valentine’s Day, either!
4. Vosges Haut-Chocolat
As a certified organic manufacturing facility that operates on 100% renewable energy, Vosges Haut-Chocolat was started by founder Katrina Markoff who forms her creations based off of flavors she’s experienced from her travels around the world. Vosges has two storefronts based in Chicago, filled with gift sets, truffles and unique chocolate bars like a Turmeric Ginger Chocolate Bar. The best part about Vosges is their Super Dark superfood bar line, each with 72% cacao and superfood ingredients like spirulina.
Our Vosges Haut-Chocolat product:
Super Dark Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Bar
4. Theo Chocolate
Theo Chocolate is the first organic, fair trade certified chocolate maker in North America, that began producing chocolate in 2006. They concentrate on making their chocolate production process as public as transparent as possible, starting from the bean and ending with the bar. They source their ingredients from all over the world, including cherries from Turkey and sugar from Brazil. Along with their dozens of chocolates and confections, they even offer chocolate tours in their Seattle facility!
Favorite Theo Chocolate Product:
Black Ride Quinoa Crunch 85% Dark Chocolate