January is a gloomy time. Cold, dark days make the winter blues kick in insidiously, leaving you feeling a bit miserable and without energy. However, there are some foods which can lighten your mood and make you feel happier. Raw chocolate is one of them: it’s good for the mind, the body and the taste buds.
Why is raw chocolate special?
It is often made in small batches by cold-pressing raw cacao beans ensuring that no nutrients are lost by heat treating. Unlike cocoa which has been roasted and heavily processed, raw cacao has been sun-dried and keeps it as close to the natural state. As a result of that, it maintains its high nutritional profile making it a superfood loaded with higher levels of antioxidants such as magnesium and flavonoids that works to increase blood flow while encouraging the production of endorphins and serotonin.
Packed with thousands of living enzymes that have been preserved through the chocolate’s processing, suitable for vegans and those who can’t handle lactose because it doesn’t contain dairy products (unlike so many of the mass-produced chocolates on the market), it is also largely gluten-free and most don’t contain refined sugar.
From Bean To Bar
While it tastes slightly different to everyday chocolate (it’s less sweet for starters), it is great in smoothies or desserts. And if you’re missing the sweetness, however, why not try adding a little natural sweetener such as honey or combining it with fruits?
Here are six of our ‘crunchy’ favourites:
Choco & things was founded in 2016 by a slightly disaffected product designer and craft lover, weary of the commercial chocolate brands and overly processed, nonessential ingredients. A brand for those who believe that less is more, and look for the actual taste of wild chocolate. Handmade in the Netherlands from the rarest cacao beans in the world, Choco & Things chocolate has always a particular twist: try the ‘Coffee Crunch’ or ‘Date & Chili’ organic bars to shake up your taste buds.
Hand-made, sweetened with Coconut Palm Sugar, sourced directly with “raw integrity” from the origin and infused with superfoods and functional herbs. These tasty chocolate bars are made with raw cacao from Bali, Ecuador, Peru, Grenada, and Madagascar. Shipped worldwide from New York, Gnosis Chocolate unique creations are formulated with alchemical blends of herbs from Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Native American traditions.
Conscious Chocolate has been making organic raw chocolate since 2006. Free from pesticides, dairy, gluten, soy and refined sugars, their rich chocolate bars are flavoured with natural essential oils and sundried fruits and nuts. They currently have 16 types of chocolate to choose from including The Nutty One (brazils, cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts) and Love Potion No. 9 (which contains hormone boosting Maca and aphrodisiac rose oil).
Ethically sourced and from Fairtrade, the ingredients used by The Raw Chocolate Company are what they proudly call ‘low-processed’. Their current range includes Mint with Xylitol, Goji Berry and Orange and Pitch Dark. The Dark Chocolate with Orange and Xylitol was particularly good but the jury was out on the ‘Vanoffee bar’ made from carob and lucuma powder. They also supply a whole range of lovely ingredients to make your own.
Organic, ethically sourced and probiotic chocolate made in Uk from the best Ecuadorian cocoa. Richard, the founder, started Ombar in 2007 in his home kitchen in Cambridge, driven by the desire to introduce people to the power of raw cacao. He did this by creating a healthier, more nourishing chocolate, without compromising on taste. We love the ‘Coco-Almond Bag of Broken Bars’!
Coco Caravan works only with the best raw criollo cacao combined with truly pure, unrefined creamy Coconut Blossom Nectar. This mix of raw cacao and creamy nectar gives their chocolate its smooth melt and fantastic clean taste. Handcrafted in Stroud, Coco Caravan’s products span from fruits dipped in chocolate to caramel-filled bars, including their special signature chocolate made directly from the cacao beans. The company works with the simplest processes and leave out any additives or preservatives.