Tag Archives: chocolate

Vegan Chocolates, anyone?

Chocolate bon bonsOn Valentines Day, many of us dream of being given a box of delicious luxury chocolates by someone close to us. They’re seen as a special indulgence that we may save for a treat on just such special occasions, but we also want to stay true to our values, so we hope for vegan chocolates, fairly-traded if possible.

Many dark chocolate bars readily available in the grocery stores are naturally vegan, and there are several brands which use fair-trade chocolate. But it can be harder to find luxury vegan chocolates.  Local fancy chocolate suppliers still don’t offer any vegan options, but fortunately new companies are springing up online to fill the gap, and some may even be found in local grocery stores.

  • Enjoy Life Foods has a selection of dairy-free chocolate minis, including some made with rice milk to give that milk chocolate sensation.
  • Rawkin Raw Chocolate offers special organic truffles packed with antioxidants, and sweetened with dates and spices to provide the best nutrition.
  • No Whey Foods offers luxury vegan chocolate boxes, such as their signature truffles, with many fancy flavors to entice every taste bud.
  • Rose City Chocolates also offers a good selection of vegan luxury chocolates.
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates has dark chocolate hearts in a gift bag.
  • Lärabar also offers several flavors of chocolate truffles in a resealable pouch.

Look out for some of these and other vegan chocolate companies at Vegfest on March 30 & 31.

Learn more about the health benefits of chocolate.

Vegan chocolate making

Pascha-Chocolate-Bars-AllBeing chocolate lovers, we wanted to know more about vegan chocolate. We caught up with Simon Lester, the founder of Pascha Chocolate and got a chance to ask him a few questions:

How did you get the idea of vegan chocolate in the first place?

When one of my daughters developed a serious, life-threatening food allergy my life changed.  All food items had to be examined and re-thought because cross contamination was serious and endemic.  The penny dropped when I thought back to my early career experience with Cadbury chocolate in the UK.  Read more

Choosing Healthy Chocolate

ChocolateWith Valentine’s Day almost here and Women’s Heart Health Day this month, many women are wondering how they can have their Valentine’s Day Chocolate and promote heart health at the same time. Well we have some good news for you, if you are willing to choose just the right chocolate!

Medical science has gone beyond folklore to investigate whether there are indeed health benefits to chocolate. Chocolate contains a group of phytonutrients called Flavanols. Phytonutrients are natural substances that are not vitamins or minerals but still have very valuable health-promoting properties. These flavanols, especially one called epicatechin, have been found to have several cardiovascular, health-enhancing effects.

Several studies have shown that chocolate modestly improves the function of the coronary arteries of the heart, while raising the good cholesterol and lowering the bad. Other studies document modest improvements in blood pressure. One study has even also shown modest improvements in memory.

However, not all chocolates contain the same amount of flavanols. It turns out that dairy- free, dark chocolate has by far the most health-promoting properties. Also, the chocolate with lower amounts of sugar in it performed the best. For those hot cocoa lovers, the best performing ones were also dairy-free and not processed with “alkali”. For those still looking for a sweeter chocolate, products sweetened with natural sugar alternatives such as LoHan, also call monk fruit, and stevia are reasonable alternatives.

A couple of caveats though. Chocolate does have plenty of calories. It is also high in fat, some of which is saturated. Overall though, when the right kind is chosen and eaten with discretion, most people can have their chocolate and a healthy heart too. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Amaretto Truffles Recipe

Almond Milk_COVER_low-resAlmond milk is a versatile alternative to dairy- and soy-based milks. Whether you’re vegan, lactose-intolerant, or allergic to soy, you can still enjoy the rich, creamy goodness of milk. Almond milk has a pleasing light flavor and boasts a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than either dairy or soy milk—without any cholesterol or saturated fat.

In this cookbook, chef and cookbook author Alan Roettinger presents a broad array of wholesome, satisfying, dairy- and gluten-free recipes. Alan is a writer, food designer, blogger, and public speaker. As a private chef for over thirty years, he’s served a broad spectrum of high-profile clients, from entertainers to presidents, and has honed his expertise in bringing together health and pleasure in food. He is also the author of Extraordinary Vegan, and several other cookbooks. He will be demonstrating his recipes at Vegfest 2016.

Basic Almond Milk

Makes 4 cups

As convenient as it may seem to simply buy packaged almond milk, it’s quick, easy, and more cost- effective to make your own. Here is a simple recipe for basic, everyday almond milk that you can enjoy for drinking, cooking, and baking.

1¼ cups natural almonds, soaked in water 8 to 12 hours, drained, and rinsed

4 cups water

Put the almonds and water in a blender and process on high speed until smooth. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag and into a large bowl. Secure the top of the bag and squeeze as much liquid as possible from the mixture, starting at the top of the bag and working your way down. When all the milk has been expressed, pour it into a clean glass jar or bottle, cover tightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Stored in the refrigerator, the milk will keep for 4 days. If some separation occurs, simply shake well to homogenize it before using.

Sweet Almond Milk: Add 2 to 4 pitted medjool dates to the blender before processing. Alternatively, stir in your favorite sweetener to taste after the milk has been strained.

Chocolate Amaretto Truffles

Makes 30 truffles

Melt-in-your-mouth almond-flavored truffles. Pace yourself. Or not. Really, no one is going to monitor your chocolate habits, so do whatever seems right to you. I’m just the enabler.

8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup plain almond milk or Sweet Almond Milk (see above, or use a commercial brand)

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Put the almond milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and wait until the milk stops bubbling, about 15 seconds. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the almond extract. Let cool completely.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Put the cocoa in a wide, shallow bowl. Scoop out about 1 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture and form it into a ball with your hands. Drop the ball into the cocoa and roll it around to coat it evenly. Set the ball on the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture. Cover the truffles with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator to firm up, about 1 hour. Once the truffles are firm, remove them from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before serving.