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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Celebrating the Sweet Season of Chocolate

Jan 30, 2013 11:25AM ● By Sylvia Haskvitz

When we think of February, we may imagine Valentines Day, with a favorite treat or gift, such as chocolate. So how does one indulge in chocolate and still focus on health and well-being? A chocolate maker, Rachel Casement, of Sweetie Pies, and Gary Greenleaf, of Indigenous Nutrition, a distributor of healthful products that include chocolate, have plenty of ideas and recipes for eating chocolate and maintaining good health. Both can be found on Sundays at the St. Philips Plaza’s Sunday Farmers Market.

What’s the difference between healthful and notso- healthful chocolate?

RC: I believe that the more simple and pure an ingredient list is for a food, the better it is for you. The less processing that any type of food goes through, the more the naturally occurring benefits in food remain intact. My chocolates are made with raw ingredients that have not been processed or heated above 140 degrees, therefore maintaining their enzymes and nutritional value. The more refined sugar and unnatural ingredients in a chocolate, the less health benefits it provides.

GG: I prefer chocolate that has minimal additions to the cacao; for example, the dark bar that I carry from Fortina Chocolate is only raw cacao and Arizona honey. Chocolate in its organic, pure and raw form provides us with health-promoting nutrition in the form of antioxidants, magnesium and offers feel-good chemical compounds like phenylethylamine (PEA). Cacao promotes circulation and can even help maintain healthy cholesterol by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL with its polyphenol content. I recommend avoiding any chocolate with soy, dairy and white processed sugar. Soy and dairy can contain GMOs and white sugar is an incomplete food that has to be processed by the body like a poison. Mass-produced chocolate often uses cheaper, low-quality cacao, is processed at high temperatures and uses questionable additives and emulsifiers, none of which increase nutrient content or quality.

What kind of chocolate and sweeteners do you use?

RC: I use raw cacao powder and raw honey and dates for a natural, healthy sweetness.

GG: I use the best chocolate that I could find after searching for over five years, which is raw and certified organic Ecuadorian cacao sourced from a small farming collective. I do have some chocolate every day, and that usually involves added a tablespoon or two to my morning superfood smoothie. I also love a good raw, organic bar, often in the afternoon, to keep my brain functioning at a high level. I am a local honeybee product distributor, so I often use local raw honey to sweeten things up a bit. I find it helpful for energy and love it in the winter months in tea to soothe my throat. I also like and recommend some low glycemic sweeteners like raw coconut sugar and stevia.

What’s your best-seller?

RC: My best-seller would be my mango bars, followed very closely by my orange candied walnut chocolate cups!

GG: I sell a lot of raw cacao powder and people seem to really like the Lulu’s line of raw handmade chocolate. I recommend the Sea Salt Almond from Lulu’s, which has raw and sprouted almonds embedded in the back, combined with the right amount of pure sea salt. Also, the Fortina brand of Un-Milk, which is a unique blend of superfoods including cacao, raw honey, maca, lucuma, yacon root, mesquite and vanilla bean, and I believe is one of the best raw chocolate bars ever created. 

Do you have a recipe to share?

RC: Raw Chocolate Macaroon

2½ cups dried shredded coconut
¾ cup coconut oil, melted in dehydrator or left at room temperature
½ cup raw honey
½ cup raw cacao powder
1 tsp pure vanilla
¼ tsp sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl except for the coconut. Add in
coconut and stir until well combined. Form into small mounds and
place in freezer for 30 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator.

GG: Chef’s Salty Chocolate Balls

¼ cup hempseed
½ cup cacao powder
2 Tbsp spirulina
2 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp local raw honey
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla bean powder or dash of vanilla extract
Mix thoroughly, roll into balls and cool off in the fridge. For added
excitement, roll them in coconut flakes before the fridge.

Sylvia Haskvitz, MA, RD, holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics and a master’s degree in speech and communication studies, with a focus on interpersonal and intercultural communication. She is a certified trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication and the author of Eat By Choice, Not By Habit ( and contributing author to Healing Our Planet, Healing Ourselves. by Sylvia Haskvitz. MA. RD