ITS A BAR, ITS A KISS, ITS A SUNDAE --- CHOCOLATE ROCKS!
In addition: Think anti-oxidants, vitamins and trace minerals.
Yes, chocolate is that good for you! BUT - - - :-)
Commercial chocolate is ruined!
First off, just where does chocolate come from?
CHOCOLATE BEGINS as the seed of the cacao fruit which only grows in tropical regions around the equator. The fruits are small, football sized ornaments, that range in color from purples to reds to golden yellows. The fruits grow directly out of the trunk of the tree. The tree grows under the shade of the forest canopy.
THE CACAO FRUITS are harvested and the seeds (beans) are fermented for several days along with the white spongy fruit. This fermentation process develops the beans' flavor. The beans and their pulp are placed in large, shallow wooden boxes or are left in piles and covered with banana leaves for 3-4 days.
AT THIS STAGE our beans are shade-dried. Shade-drying allows the fermentation process to finish naturally, giving the beans a rich flavor. Commercial processors oven dry the beans at high heat, hastening the drying process. This leaves a bitter and acidic flavor, deterimental to you and the product's constituents, ruining the bean, it's flavor, and nearly all the nutritive benefits of chocolate that you are looking for!
OUR SHADE/SUN DRIED BEANS are now ready for eating and chocolate-making. The beans are eaten directly (with ice cream, on salads, stirred into peanut butter) or they are further processed into 'chocolate'. The beans are shelled and pressed, separating the cocoa butter from the solids, leaving us with Pure Cocoa Butter and Pure Cocoa Powder.
INSIST ON RAW, NOT OVEN ROASTED cacao nibs. It is important to understand that the processing of chocolate is very damaging. Aside from the toasting, much cocoa powder goes on to be "dutch processed" - where the powder goes through an alkaline bath / chemical extraction process to reduce the natural bitter flavor of the cocoa powder from the high-heat oven drying process. This makes the powder darker in color, reducing the bitter taste and mostly all of the tremendous nutritional benefits of chocolate destroyed.
"DARK" CHOCOLATE: all the rage. What you are looking for is the real, whole bean. The 'dark' chocolate bar has already been roasted, toasted, and then boasted of it's anti-oxidant content. Sorry to disappoint, but the nutritional content is just not there by the time the processing is complete. When buying cocoa powder, be sure it is natural and not Dutch processed.
CHOOSE CAREFULLY: Many chocolate bars are made with vegetable oil. The pure cocoa butter - the very special component that makes chocolate so satisfyingly smooth melting on your tongue - is substituted to save cost with vegetable oil blends are used as a replacement for cocoa butter.
ANOTHER CLUE to looking for purity and nutritional benefits is to check that the chocolate has vanilla added. Pure vanilla is a bio-complement to chocolate - meaning that the nutrition you want to get from chocolate is activated and carried out by the presence of vanilla.