Craving something sweet? Feeling stressed? Chances are you’ll be reaching for chocolate in these situations. More than most foods, chocolate is tied up with emotions: happy, sad, content, stressed. Thankfully, this beloved food offers some health benefits—chocolate contains substances called flavanols that offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and heart-health-boosting properties, among other benefits.
Of course, the source of the chocolate is key to its quality. A grocery store Hershey’s bar won’t offer the same health benefits—or depth of taste—as minimally processed, high-quality dark cocoa. For a chocolate bar whose ingredients pay mind to the earth, whose craftsmanship caters to our taste buds, the eating of which is an experience in itself, check out the chocolate bars below—all selected and happily taste-tested by the Mother Earth Living staff!
Alter Eco’s Dark Coconut Toffee bar was an office favorite—once opened, it didn’t last long! This organic chocolate bar features sea salt and crunchy, buttery coconut toffee surrounded by 47 percent cocoa. It is both USDA organic-certified and fair-trade certified. Alter Eco harvests the cacao beans for this particular bar from a cooperative in Peru.
Cost: 2.82-ounce bar, $4
This fruity chocolate bar from aptly named Divine Chocolate has a lot going for it—subtle notes of spicy ginger, a hint of zesty orange flavor and a smooth chocolate consistency pebbled with tiny bits of gummy candied ginger. All of the elements blend harmoniously into one irresistible and, well, divine chocolate bar.
Cost: 3.5-ounce bar, $3.30
For the Vanilla Nib bar, part of the company’s partner collection, Theo teamed up with the Eastern Congo Initiative, which advocates on behalf of the people of eastern Congo to improve economic and social development. This delightfully crunchy chocolate bar—both USDA-organic and fair-trade certified—sports both a mild vanilla sweetness and a rich, bitter dark chocolate taste. What’s even sweeter? A portion of proceeds from the sale of this bar go back to the ECI to help Congolese cocoa farmers improve their crops and strengthen their business.
Cost: 3-ounce bar, $5
Equal Exchange’s Organic Dark Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt blends several opposing forces—sweet caramel with salty crystals, smooth chocolate with crunchy caramel bits—harmoniously into one delicious chocolate bar. Like other Equal Exchange products, this bar is certified-fair trade and USDA-organic certified.
Cost: 3.5-ounce bar, $3.75
Dark chocolate offers many health benefits, but only if eaten in moderation. And once you’ve opened a bar of chocolate, it can be hard to control your impulses. NibMor’s Daily Dose of Dark chocolate squares are perfect for ensuring you enjoy your chocolate but don’t overindulge. Each square is just 0.35 ounces—a perfect snacking size!—of 72 percent dark chocolate—not too light, and not too dark. In addition to being organic, NibMor’s dark chocolate squares are also non-GMO and vegan.
Cost: 7-count box of squares, $5.75
This pink pepper and citrus bar from madécasse chocolate has a sweet, floral taste, courtesy of its vanilla and combava fruit, with subtle spice notes from the pink peppercorns. Unlike other chocolate companies that harvest chocolate at the source but outsource production to another country, madécasse harvests, produces and packages its chocolate bars all in Madagascar, helping to keep the revenue stream at the source to benefit locals.
Cost: 2.64-ounce bar, $6
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.