Hands up those who don’t like chocolate? Hmmm, thought so. Narey a hand raised.
And kids seem to love it just as much as we do. I slip a couple of dessertspoons of cacao powder into our green-smoothie mix once a fortnight or so, just to shake things up a little, and we might have the occasional chocolate fruit-and-nut treat, but it really is something that we only rarely consume. I’m sure my girls would eat it every day, given the chance!
I’m very much in favor of raising our vibrations by really enjoying life, including all that we eat and drink – so, for me, chocolate is definitely OK as an occasional treat. But it has to be good-quality chocolate, without all those dairy and other additives.
Last weekend, I decided to give myself a wee treat and head off to a raw chocolate workshop that had been organized through our Melbourne raw-food meet-up group. I already knew a lot about chocolate from having edited a book a few years ago called Spoil Yourself: A Chocoholic Guide to Melbourne (dream gig, huh?!), but I wanted to know more about this “raw” version of chocolate, and how it was produced. Oh, and I wanted a few samples…
Boy, oh boy, was it fantastic! I dashed in to the chocolate factory, cheeks tingling from the brisk Melbourne weather, and was greeted by a smiling, happy young man called Christian, who ladled warm “hot” chocolate into a cup for me. Bliss. We sat sipping our hot chocolates, with a hushed air of expectancy. (Christian’s special recipe was given to us – and it includes cardamom and cinnamon – mmm…)
Rugged up to the nines in the chilly factory, we sat listening intently to Scott, the owner of “Loving Earth”, passionately explain the different varieties of beans, the production process, and how Loving Earth works directly with communities in Mexico and Peru to ensure the best quality ingredients (this trade helps those communities enormously). Scott regularly visits the farmers and production facilities – it’s so great to see a company that cares about the source of their ingredients, and about the effects on those source communities, and the environment.
Christian also gave us the low-down on the amazing nutritional benefits of cacao (the theobromine, magnesium, iron, and antioxidant qualities), but tempered this (chocolate insider’s joke – get it?) by saying that cacao is potent and should be used with care. I absolutely agree with this, and deliberately avoid giving myself or my girls too much cacao – I think the caffeine content alone is something that makes it an occasional treat, despite its superfood characteristics.
At the Loving Earth factory in Melbourne, they use organic Criollo (the highest quality cacao) powder and butter, and combine it with agave nectar, Himalayan crystal salt and vanilla bean to create the base of all their chocolate bars. The cacao provides the bitterness, with the agave being the sweetener. They then add flavorings such as lucuma (which helps “lighten it up” a little), mesquite, purple corn, camu camu, maca, goji berries, and nuts, to create gorgeous chocolate bars. Is your mouth watering yet?
We all had the chance to whisk together a base chocolate mix, with Scott encouraging us to “stir in the love”. Nothing is heated above 113ºF (45ºC), so the chocolate really is raw (no roasting of beans) – this is definitely not the case with traditional chocolate production, where the mix is often heated over 176ºF (80ºC).
We then gathered in groups and added sprinkles of this and that to the mix, in little tin pots (see pic of my partners-in-crime Donna and Jess, about to launch into choc production). We then added larger, chunky pieces (berries, nuts etc) to the molds, poured in the choc (see pic with my almond additions) and put them in a fridge, to set.
We then tipped out the bars and wrapped them ourselves. Upon taking mine home, my husband Darren had a nibble of a bar, and declared it “not too bad at all!” (this, from a non-raw-foodie!). I personally prefer the bars that have had a little lucuma added – I’m not entirely a dark-choc aficionado, but I’m learning to appreciate it.
But it’s not just the chocolate bars that are sublime – I also adore the Loving Earth coconut-chocolate butter, which I occasionally spread into pitted Medjool date halves and give to my girls as part of their after-school snack. Honestly, I could eat that stuff by the spoonful!
If you’d like to learn more about raw chocolate, see Loving Earth’s website. They also run chocolate parties at homes (if you live in Melbourne or Sydney). They’re a hoot!
Till next week, with cacao kisses,
PS Have you signed up for the free Raw Mom Summit yet? Huge, chocolately hugs to Shannon and Tera for putting this together – I’m loving these calls! I’m making my way through them by downloading calls to my MP3 player and taking them in on my walks (you can only download the calls on the upgrade version – if that type of multi-tasking appeals to you, make sure you upgrade!)
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