A couple of sessions back, Heather and I were talking about my
fondness for obsession with chocolate, and how it always seems to be my downfall whenever I attempt to diet. Once I’ve managed to wean myself off it I’m not too bad, but it’s getting weaned in the first place that’s the difficult bit (I mean, I did the GI diet for a couple of years and rarely ate anything naughty, so it is possible).
During this session, Heather mentioned something called ‘raw’ chocolate. I’d never heard of it before. She explained it’s where the cocoa – or cacao as it should be called – is only processed at very low temperatures, meaning all the very good stuff that chocolate naturally contains isn’t damaged (there’s a very good article here, if you can bring yourself to read the Daily Fail. If not, try this [older] Guardian one instead). Then it’s blended together with other super-healthy ingredients, like low-GI natural sweeteners (coconut sugar, agave nectar, etc), coconut cream (for creamier chocolates, similar to milk chocolate but of course completely dairy-free), and fruit (depending on which variety of chocolate you’re eating).
The result? Chocolate you don’t have to feel guilty about.
I know that sounds unbelievable, so I’m going to say it again, in case you thought your eyes were deceiving you: you can eat raw chocolate without feeling guilty!
Better even than that: raw chocolate, eaten as part of a balanced and healthy diet, is actually good for you. I know! Crazy, right?
When Heather first mentioned raw chocolate, months ago, I kind of forgot about it. It was coming up to Christmas so my money was all tied up with presents and feasting and what have you, and buying hippy dippy ‘healthy’ chocolate was the last thing on my mind. But a couple of weeks back, when The Regime started, I remembered Heather’s advice and did some digging around.
First thing I found was the online shop, The Raw Chocolate Shop. Here, I was able to get a feel for the different varieties of raw chocolate available, and see what people had to say about it. It turns out there are lots of different varieties of raw chocolate, and frankly they all sounded amazing. Then I took a look at Amazon, and discovered that I could get a 5-pack of Ombar Coconut Probiotic (one of the most popular varieties, from what I could gather) for not much more than a tenner, with free postage. So I ordered it, and it arrived about 11 days ago.
Let me tell you: this stuff is bloody delicious! It’s very intensely chocolately, somewhere between dark and milk chocolate (as I said in my review on Amazon, it’s very similar to Hotel Chocolat’s House 50%, which was my favourite until I discovered Ombar). It has a dry, crumbly texture, melts beautifully on the tongue, and just spreads its chocolatey deliciousness throughout your mouth, leaving you feeling like you’re on an amazing chocolate high. Now, this stuff is low GI, so you don’t get energy peaks and dips when you eat it, which is great; you just feel wonderful because of the intense chocolateyness, rather than because of a sugar rush, which is just what the doctor (or herbalist!) ordered.
Needless to say, I have in fact scoffed the lot. In my defence, at 38g each, these bars of chocolate are tiny; but so intense that you don’t need much to satisfy your craving.
Today my latest parcel of raw chocolate arrived, which this time I ordered from the Raw Chocolate Shop direct because I wanted to mix and match the flavours a bit. Unfortunately the strawberry probiotic was out of stock so I will have to wait until next time for that. In this parcel was the acai and blueberry variety, which is much darker and stronger than the coconut bar (and slightly more bitter, with a very slight hint of fruit); the goji berry, which I haven’t tried yet; and a bar by a different maker, Conscious, which is really gorgeous. If you like Turkish delight you’ll probably love Conscious Love Potion No. 9, which is flavoured with essential oil of rose. It has a softer texture than the Ombar bars, and the bar is made in chunkier pieces too, which makes it easier to stuff your face!
I’m so glad Heather pointed me in the direction of raw chocolate. The bars I’ve tried so far are so amazingly tasty, and so virtuous, that I’m going to order a book about making raw chocolates (you can buy a lot of the ingredients at health food shops, including online ones like the very interesting Detox Your World) and set about making some virtuous creations of my own. But that doesn’t mean I will stop scoffing my Ombars; now I’ve discovered them, I think it’s fair to say we’ll be friends for life!