Chocolate is a general term these days. It is used to describe anything from candy bars, such as Mars and Hershey's, to Mayan-style hot cocoa beverages that are all the rage. And most accurately, it is used by connoisseurs and fine chocolate makers to describe solid chocolate made with quality ingredients.
However, the term 'chocolate' is also used to describe some of the newer types of artisan 'bars' that are made with cacao beans. Taza Chocolate stone grinds the beans to make a gritty-textured chocolate. The Canadian equal to American Taza is ChocoSol, based out of Toronto. Soma Chocolatemaker also makes an 'Old School' chocolate bar with a crumbly texture to replicate the way chocolate was made before the conching machine was invented (by Rudolph Lindt in 1879).
You might be wondering what is so special about gritty chocolate? Well, the idea behind this trend is: the less you process the cacao beans, the more nutrients and antioxidants are maintained in the final chocolate product.
One Canadian company is taking this 'minimal processing' concept to the extreme with their raw chocolate creations. Living Libations, a Haliburton, Ontario-based business, is creating chocolate that is made from raw (i.e. unroasted) cacao beans. They also add ingredients like hemp seeds, maca root, camu camu and other 'super foods'. So not only does the cacao retain more of its nutrients and antioxidants because it is uncooked and minimally processed, the resulting 'chocolate' is packed with added nutrients like minerals, vitamins and protein.
I first caught wind of Living Libations on a TVO documentary called "Semi-Sweet: Life In Chocolate" which aired back in June. The documentary followed four groups of people around the world and how their lives are affected by chocolate. Ron and Nadine, the couple behind Living Libations, were presented as extreme hippies who have been positively affected by it. They revere it as the 'food of the gods' and agree that it offers intense nutritional powers, especially in its raw form.
online writer as "a nutty New Age couple living in rural splendour", Ron and Nadine apply their unique outlook on life to the creation of chocolate that is completely different from anything else in the Canadian market. One Globe and Mail article described their chocolate as "a paradigm shift. What they’re basically saying is this isn’t candy. This is food." I agree; from what I have tasted of their product, it is food. And unlike any chocolate that I have ever tasted.
First I tried Living Libations' "More than a Feeling, the Benediction is Where You Are Chocolate Bar" which is raw, organic and made with cacao beans from Indonesia. Along with the cacao beans, which are stone ground, it includes 10 other uber-healthy ingredients, including raspberry, hemp, maca root and gogi berries. The flavour was very strong and my initial reaction was not positive. However, I decided to persevere and eat a piece a day for a week, and by the end of the week, the flavour grew on me and I found myself looking forward to this daily snack.
I found myself getting caught up in researching Living Libations and their ideas about raw chocolate. That lead me to David Wolfe and Shazzie, who wrote the book called "Naked Chocolate". Shazzie is a woman from the U.K. who seems to be very similar to Nadine in the products that she promotes and the message she is giving to the public about all-natural foods and how they affect our health. Shazzie also sells a line of raw 'chocolate bars' in the U.K. that are similar to the creations made by Living Libations.
What I noticed about these four individuals is they use creative ways to describe what raw chocolate can do for our health, body, mind and soul. From the documentary, I wrote down quotes such as: "it is opening our Guinea Libations". Huh? And finding a straight-forward description of each of their chocolate bars was not easy. But deciphering what Living Libations' chocolate was all about was the fun part in making a purchase decision.
The only real downside to this chocolate, for the average health-conscious consumer, is the price. With each bar costing about $20, one has to be selective. But there are no worries about gobbling up $20 in one sitting. It will certainly take a week or longer to work through one chocolate bar. One small piece a day can do wonders for your health, as I learned. And eating too much at once can make you light-headed, as I also learned.
The best part about their chocolate is: "no sugar, no dairy, no cacao powder, no cacao butter", this is just cacao beans and real ingredients with no unnecessary processing. So regardless of whether you call it chocolate or call it food, it is definitely unique, all-natural and healthy. Those are three things that I am always willing to sink my teeth into.