February 14, 2006

My Organic Valentine: Chocolate Bars For Your Eco-Conscious Honey

Gentle reader, even though I don't usually have chocolate bars in my house (due to an utter lack of self-control), and even though my husband and I have ignored the commercially manufactured "Hallmark Holiday" for years, I, your intrepid ReallyNatural.com blogger, have sacrificed my rules, not to mention my waistline, to test and report back on various varieties of organic chocolates just in time for V-day. I really do hope you appreciate the lengths I go to to bring you the information you need.

Now the good news about all of this is that some brilliant person discovered that chocolate is actually good for you! Why nothing could be more "heart healthy" than to gift your loved one with a big old chocolate bar and bottle of fine, antioxidant-filled red wine. Hey, I think I like this health food thing!

I reviewed three chocolate bars: Newman's Own Organics Butter Toffee Crunch Milk Chocolate; Whole Foods Market's 365 Organic Swiss Milk Chocolate with Almonds, and Green & Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts and Currants

Whole Foods' 365 Organic Swiss Milk Chocolate is a good basic choice. With 33% cocoa, it has a light, creamy taste for those who prefer their chocolate mild. The almond pieces are small and plentiful. According to the package, the bar is made in Switzerland using "Old-World" blending methods, and the cocoa beans are grown in the Dominican Republic by a co-op of small farmers called the YACAO Project that works to provide a healthy livelihood to small farmers and their families.

Newman's Own Organics Butter Toffee Crunch Milk Chocolate is a fancier bar. While still classified as milk chocolate, it's definitely on the darker side. I couldn't find the percentage of cocoa used. The chocolate itself is very good; smooth and with a deep chocolate taste. However I must say I was disappointed that it didn't contain more toffee crunch. The pieces were quite small and didn't exactly provide the "crunch" I expected given the name of the product.

For those who like their chocolate dark, Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts and Currants, with 60% cocoa content, has a much stronger, slightly coffee-like taste. The hazelnuts are finely chopped and plentiful. The currants were also small--so much so that they got a bit lost. However they did add a sweetness and chewiness that provided a rather pleasant counterpoint to the intensity of the chocolate. This bar is a good choice if your sweetheart happens to be a vegan, as it contains no milk products.

Here's another fun idea: buy all three (or more) and conduct your own chocolate tasting! Here are some pointers from a recent article in the Boston Globe.

About Whole Foods: According to their Web site, Whole Foods Market is the world's leading retailer of natural and organic foods, with 181 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. They are involved in many charitable projects, which interestingly are local in nature, with each store manager determining which local community groups they'd like to work with. You can read more about their outreach efforts here

About Newman's Own Organics: According to their Web site, Newman's Own Organics was founded in 1993 by Paul Newman's daughter, Nell Newman, as a division of Newman's Own. It became a separate company in late 2001. Their motto is "Great Tasting Food That Happens to Be Organic." Their products include organic pretzels, cookies, popcorn, chocolate bars, peppermint cups, peanut butter cups, olive oil and vinegar, dried fruit, fair trade coffee and pet food. Recently, Newman's Own Organics launched a line of fresh produce that includes organic lettuce mixes, baby spinach and carrots. The company follows in the charitable tradition established by Paul Newman, and all its profits are donated to charitable and educational causes.

About Green & Black's: According to their Web site, Green & Black's was started in 1991 by Whole Earth founder Craig Sams and his wife. Working with Mayan farmers using indigenous trees, the company produced the first organic chocolate bar, Maya Gold, which was also the first product to receive the Fair Trade mark. Read more of this interesting and inspiring story here.

Whole Foods Market 365 Organic Swiss Milk Chocolate with Almonds Ingredients: Organic raw cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic whole milk powder, organic almonds: 10% organic cocoa mass, organic vanilla extract, organic cocoa: 33% Min. organic milk solids: 22%.

Newman's Own Organics Butter Toffee Crunch Milk Chocolate Ingredients: Organic milk chocolate (organic sugar, organic whole milk powder, organic cocoa butter, organic chocolate liquor, soy lecithin {an emulsifier}, organic vanilla), organic butter toffee (organic butter, organic sugar, organic corn syrup solids, salt, soy lecithin {an emulsifier}.

Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts and Currants Ingredients: Organic cocoa liquor, organic raw cane sugar, organic hazelnuts (9%), organic currant (9%), organic cocoa butter, emulsifier: soy lecithin, organic vanilla.

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Posted by Blogpire Productions at February 14, 2006 2:51 PM

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