I have not written much for a while – a lot has changed here. Due to a scare from my doctor (high cholesterol, high blood sugar), I’ve had to revamp the way that I eat. At first I thought that meant that I would have to give up a lot of things I love, but in reality it’s just meant picking and choosing the right ingredients and the right ways to make things. It’s all worked out – I’ve lost 22 pounds, lowered my cholesterol by 37 points and I’m feeling great!
One of the hardest transitions was sweets – especially chocolate. I have a huge sweet tooth and there are some things I just can’t give up. I had made a decision not to eat sugar free chocolate – I wanted to cut out all the additives and chemicals as well as the sugar and most of those chocolates use malitol – which really does a number on my stomach. After a ton of research (and longing) I realized that very high percentage dark chocolate (80% and over) has very little sugar. A couple of squares is oddly satisfying – no need to scarf down a whole bar. There are a lot of great brands of 80 % plus out there and it’s really easy to get even in the regular grocery store. There’s Lindt, Ghiradelli, Dagoba, Green & Black and even Trader Joe’s. They are all slightly different and I became a little bit snobby – like I was tasting wine. For the first few weeks this really solved the problem.
Then I ran into a wall. As much as I was enjoying the taste of the dark chocolate, I do really enjoy a chocolate bar with other flavors in it – and it seemed that once you got past 80% chocolate, it only came in plain bars. I was getting bored – and that is never a good thing.
So it was back to the research, where I discovered that both raw chocolate and some non-American chocolates tend to have less sugar in general, so you could find 70% chocolates with flavors and low sugar. I’ve tried a lot of brands over the past couple of months, and although some really go overboard with the health to the point where they can become gritty and not very pleasant, there are a few brands out there that I love as much as any I was having before I changed my diet, and the different flavor variations should keep me going indefinitely. Here are the creme of the crop:
Hachez – I discovered Hachez quite accidentally, in a random display in my grocery store. It’s a Belgian company, and their dark chocolate bars are 77% chocolate and come in flavors like orange and strawberry-pepper. They have a great melt feel on the tongue and the flavors are great!
Lulu’s Chocolate – Lulu’s is an American based raw chocolate company. Although some other raw chocolate companies have a gritty, bitter product, Lulu’s is creamy and flavorful. They use coconut sugar, which has a lower glycemic level than regular sugar. They make various flavored bars and Maca Buttercups – which are like peanut butter cups that have gone to graduate school. Amazing!
Lily’s – I consider a bar of Lily’s chocolate my junk food fix when I’ve just had enough of the heavy dark chocolates. Lily’s is sweetened with stevia – which I was hesitant about at first, and it definitely has a lighter, creamier mouth feel than the others. They have a bar with coconut – which is one of my favorite flavors with chocolate, so this bar usually disappears pretty fast.
The next two are my absolute favorites right now – but they are a little pricier and harder to get.
The first is a great New York City company called Chocolat Moderne. This stuff is amazing – and when I saw the calorie count and sugar count on these, I really thought it had to be a misprint. The taste and flavor are amazing and there are so many more flavors to try! They have won awards for their chocolate and it’s easy to see why. This one is dark chocolate filled with banana caramel – it lasted about five minutes in my house.
Another really great one is Hu Chocolate, made in Brooklyn. I’m dying to visit the cafe next time I’m in the city, but in the meantime I can order these through Mouth and Farm to People. The one I love is the Almond Butter and Puffed Quinoa Chocolate bar. It is super creamy with just a touch of crunch.
So with all these treats in my arsenal – and a slew of recipes to use the plain dark chocolate (more on that another time), my cravings are satisfied and I don’t feel guilty (mostly). Life is good!