Chocolate is favorite indulgence to many people. Chocolate chips in pancakes, chocolate sauce on ice-cream, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, chocolate bars… honestly the list can go on and on, if you are a chocolate lover, you know that chocolate goes with just about anything!
We receive questions all the time from clients about what sweets they should eat. Usually, our answer is “limit your sugar in take to 1-2 pieces of fruit per day…” but when its 9 o’clock at night, the kids are asleep, and the munchies kick in, sometimes that only way to really satisfy that sweet tooth is with a piece (or 2) of high quality chocolate. As with any food, we are particular about the brand and quality of chocolate that we recommend and eat. When it comes to chocolate, there are a few qualifications the chocolate must pass before it can come into our pantry…
The Chocolate Checklist:
What are the ingredients? it is important to know whats in your food. You are going to need to know the ingredients in order to answer the rest of the questions.
Is it organic/gmo free? Lets hope most of the ingredients are organic/gmo free. The little fine print label on the back should answer this question.
Is there lethicin? Lethicin is commonly used in chocolate bars; however, we are not fans of soy lethicin. Be careful to check and make sure that if there is lethicin, it is organic or or gmo free.
What is the cocoa percent? The cocoa% is how much of the chocolate bar is made from cocoa beans. This is a good indicator of how bitter the chocolate will be. The higher the cocoa percent, the more bitter. Also, the higher the percent generally means higher antioxidant levels and lower sugar.
What is the sugar content? Nothing too sugar filled, please! Try to stay under 10 grams of sugar per 40 grams of chocolate. For example, a serving of a Dove dark chocolate bar has 19g of sugar per serving but the Alter Eco Blackout bar has on 6g per serving! Obviously, the Alter Eco chocolate is the better choice.
What kind of sugar? Ideally, we want raw, organic sugar, maple syrup, or even coconut sugar! Stay away from all artificial sweeteners, agave and corn syrup. Generally, coconut sugar is our favorite choice. If theres no sugar, awesome! Just be prepared for some very bitter chocolate.
Is there dairy? This is especially important to know if you have a dairy allergy, intolerance, vegan, ect. Typically, we do not recommend milk chocolate but if you choose a brand that has diary, make sure that the dairy is organic
Where are the cocoa beans from? This question is for fun(: but it also alters the taste of your chocolate. Cocoa beens from different regions of the world carry different flavors. It is fun to sample various kinds from all around the world!
Is is “ethically sourced”? It is important to look for labels like “fair trade” “sustainable” “direct trade” or “the rainforest alliance stamp” to ensure that the chocolate is made in safe facilities, the workers are treated well/fairly paid, and that the environment is respected during the production of the chocolate.
PTO’s Chocolate Choices
Here’s some of our favorite chocolate brands:
French Broad Chocolate Janell discovered this company on one of her trips to Asheville, North Carolina and immediately fell in love! You can purchase their (chocolate bars, truffles, ect) products online. If you get the chance to visit Asheville, we highly recommend stopping by the French Broad chocolate lounge– it is every chocolate enthusiast’s dream
Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co. is a fabulous bean-to-bar chocolate company that handcrafts chocolate bars in Nashville, Tennessee.
Taza Chocolate is a personal favorite. It is a mexican-style stone ground chocolate which is also organic and environmentally sustainable! We often have a discs (and empty wrappers…) of Taza’s Cacao Puro lying around the office. The Cacao Puro has only has 2 ingredients: organic cacao beans& organic cane sugar!
Alter Eco makes incredibly smooth, velvety chocolate. It is also organic and fair trade. The “Dark Mint” and “Dark Blackout” are our favorites.
Organic Nectars sells unique raw, vegan, gmo-free chocolate bars sweetened with coconut nectar! Their “milk chocolates” use cashews instead of dairy products which gives their vegan white chocolate a lovely golden color.
Love Bean Superfood Fudge Spread- technically, this is a chocolate fudge spread, not a chocolate bar, but it is to good not include! This is infinitely delicious and creamy- like heaven in a jar! It is raw, vegan, and paleo and made with coconut oil.
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips We use these for making my favorite chocolate chip pancakes, ice-creams, cookies, you name it! Although they are high in sugar, these chocolate chips are gluten, dairy, soy, and nut free, so, in moderation, they are ok.