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The future of chocolate is healthy and gourmet: raw organic and plant-based (vegan) chocolate delicacies become a widespread reality and represent a delicious source of valuable nutritive constituents. Raw chocolate manufacturers focus on two goals: maintaining the incredible properties of this food, and, at the same time, delighting the palate.
Raw cocoa, a wonderful food with many healthy properties, is in fact also a refined pleasure, a guilty free delicacy to be eaten with joy.
As I have already stated, to me food represents harmony and nourishment, communion with nature, the very act of listening to my inner self and body. Healthy nutrition is the balanced foundation for evolutionary choices to achieve my well-being. It ‘also unconditional joy and pleasure of the senses, including aesthetic. That’s why they I’m always excited when the health-conscious evolution of nutrition can transform the so-called “guilty pleasures” in healthy nourishment occasions.
Therefore, I could not miss the chance to visit the Salon du Chocolat in Milan this year. The Italian organisation of this famous Chocolate Fair featured famous chefs and exhibitors who choose to work with chocolate not only as a delicious ingredient but also as a nutritional resource of excellence, offering organic raw and plant-based chocolate products and recipes.
The Salon du Chocolat was established in Paris in 1994 with the goal to discover chocolate in all its forms. In these 22 years, 165 fairs have been organised, for an average of 20 fairs a year. The event now reaches 30 cities on 4 continents. Altogether it is involving 10,000 exhibitors and an audience of 8.2 million visitors. We are talking about a huge event, so I really appreciate that the organisers of the fair in Milan decided to give space to vegan, raw and healthy chocolate: a way to spread the new mindset that combines health and taste.
It’s the first time, in fact, that the Salon du Chocolat promoted events dedicated to vegan and raw food world. Milan is a pioneer of the healthy food revolution, that’s great!
I was able to attend three cooking show dedicated to vegan chocolate recipes, and even to one focused on raw chocolate.
The vegan chocolate experience at the Salon du Chocolat was brought live from vegan chefs Simone Salvini (from Ghita Academy, which was founded in the broader context of Funny Veg Academy, a vegan cooking school), Stefano Broccoli and Giuseppe Tortorella, (Funny Veg Academy) who presented plant-based chocolate recipes.
Emanuela Caorsi, an expert on raw food, presented an innovative raw food recipe showing how to prepare a chocolate and salted caramel raw tart, in which the nutritional value of each ingredient, not cooked but only assembled, is preserved entirely.
Actually, she was my favourite, not only because of her amazing tart but also thanks to her positive and lovely attitude.
Plant-based raw chocolate is truly a miracle: an incredible nourishing food and a divine treat to the palate.
Raw chocolate, in fact, produced without any adulteration or chemical processes or deleterious manufacturing steps (such as alkalization, radiation, high temperature roasting, conching for days, excessive cooking) and with no refined sugars of artificial additives, lecithin of soya, or animal milk (which prevents the absorption of cocoa’s phytonutrients) turns out to be a wonderful food, which has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and in particular is good for the heart. Its highest concentration of antioxidants in the form of flavonoids makes it a valuable ally, a true superfood, able also to promote good mood, thanks to the tryptophan, an amino acid precursor of serotonin and melatonin, which is considered a good natural antidepressant. Raw chocolate is also rich in vitamin C, Phenylethylamine (molecule naturally produced by the brain in states of euphoria and joy), omega 6 fatty acids and magnesium. All these phytochemicals may help balance blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and help to remove arterial plaques and promote general health.
In this regard, I am happy to say that Salon du Chocolat offered the discovery of a wide range of raw and plant-based vegan cocoa-products.
I found out my new favourite raw chocolate producers: Vivoo, Matù Chocolate, Sabadì and Cacao Crudo.
Yesterday, during the last day of the Salon du Chocolat in Milan, Compagnia del Cioccolato (the Italian association of chocolate consumers) presented Premio Tavoletta d’Oro 2017, the Golden Bars 2017, the Oscars of Italian quality chocolate.
Here there are my very personal choices for the awards, my Golden Bars dedicated to organic raw vegan chocolates. (You are going to read my true personal opinion, this is not a sponsored post).
VIVOO. A Healthy Re-Evolution. Raw E-Motion. Organic Raw Chocolate + Superfoods. The vital force of nature in a bar.
I fell in love with Vivoo raw chocolate bars and their new amazing treats, such as Buttercups and fresh raw chocolate tarts with hazelnut, mint and cashew, goji and flaxseed. I was intrigued by the spreadable creams made from pumpkin, hemp and linen seeds and by the Tondi (chocolate pods), the Pralines and the truffled Dragee, all presented in beautiful gift boxes.
Vivoo is a raw chocolate that has nothing to envy to the best traditional gourmet chocolates: mild pleasant astringency, mellow with fruity and spicy notes of banana and clove, hints of vanilla and nutmeg. It is produced from exceptional cocoa beans, a special variety of Balinese cocoa that comes from the fine Criollo variety. Tasting Vivoo’s raw cocoa beans is truly a mystical experience.
Vivoo’s raw chocolate is sweetened only with coconut flowers nectar sugar, a sweetener with a very low glycemic index. Many superfoods are added in the chocolate specialities: berries, fruits, roots, flowers, herbs, mushrooms. Vivoo’s ‘raw chocolate is organic, kosher, vegan and gluten free.
The founder of Vivoo declares that he wanted to remove all chocolate adulteration, chemical and deleterious processes, overcooking, refined sugars, and restore the purity that had earned it the fame as food of the gods.
“We looked for the living force of nature. And we modelled it in our tablets, bars and bite.”
And he really succeeded: in my opinion, this chocolate is gods’ nectar and ambrosia.
My personal award: best raw chocolate bars and best cocoa beans. Special mention to the Tarts and pralines, to the buttercups and to the bites: a real moment of pleasure with the added value of superfoods.
MATÙ CHOCOLATE. A new gourmet experience, dedicated to the evolution of Raw Chocolate.
Matu Chocolate debuted during this Salon du Chocolat, presenting a conference event. It’s a new gourmet experience, dedicated to the evolution of Raw Chocolate. An artisanal organic product, made from high-quality raw cocoa beans, through a new process – their innovative method called matùral – which uses gentle and low temperatures, suitable for preserving flavour notes and healthy components. The Chocolate proposed by Matù Chocolate is a food with intact nutritional properties and with a tasty and refined flavour.
Criollo cocoa beans from Peru and Bali and Arriba Nacional Fino de Aroma beans from Ecuador are the heart of this chocolate. Just a few natural and organic ingredients are added, such as sugar from unrefined coconut flowers and lucuma, both rich in minerals and precious substances for our health.
A perfect chocolate for everyone: gourmets, foodists, vegans, raw foodist, paleo and macrobiotic lovers, for those who must deal with intolerance to gluten, lactose, soy or for diabetics, thanks to the low glycemic value of coconut sugar.
Environment matters for the two founders of Matù Chocolate: they believe in ethical and fair trade and buy from companies that respect the raw method, which is delicious and good for health and the environment. Even the packaging is eco-friendly and innovative, made with biodegradable and compostable materials, derived from the renewable pulp of eucalyptus trees.
My personal award goes to GOLDEN MILK, vegan white chocolate flavoured with turmeric and oriental spices, the best white chocolate that I have ever tasted, soft and so creamy! And it is raw, organic, with no refined sugar and no milk. An unforgettable delight. Special mention to CREMOSO, a raw Criollo beans chocolate with cashews.
SABADÌ. The best Modica chocolate and Organic functional chocolate!
I have a passion for Modica chocolate, which leaves under your teeth the feeling of cocoa and sugar crystals. Yesterday, during the last day of the Salon du Chocolat in Milan, Sabadì was awarded for the sixth consecutive year as best chocolate in the Modica Chocolate category.
The winner is Youth, a cold-processed organic chocolate with açaí berries, rosehip, red orange zest, grape seeds extract and green tea extract. This bar enhances the natural anti-aging proprieties of cocoa, due to the presence of polyphenols (substances with strong antioxidant properties), by combining it with the other antioxidant ingredients. The antioxidant capacity of this product was assessed in a lab. The result? An antioxidant capacity of over 77 thousand ORAC units (the antioxidant potential of a food) per 100 grammes of the product. According to the USA Food and Drug Administration, we need around 5000 units of ORAC daily. So, about 7 grammes of Youth chocolate satisfies the daily requirement of antioxidants. I think it will be hard to eat only 7 grammes of this amazing chocolate.
Youth is one of six Sabadì Quality of Life chocolate bars that can be defined as Organic Functional Chocolate, a chocolate combined with other natural substances in order to enhance certain properties already present in the mother product to ensure a high nutritional value. This Organic Functional Chocolate is the result of years of research and development in collaboration with a prestigious Italian University, aimed to preserve the flavour and the functional properties of the raw materials used.
I tasted Youth and I can say that it really deserved the award in the Modica chocolate category. Best Modica chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Special mention to the amazing beautiful artsy packaging.
CACAO CRUDO. An ethical and sustainable project all about raw vegan cocoa.
Cacao Crudo was the first company in Italy to produce raw chocolate. It was founded by an anthropologist, a researcher in the food industry specialised in conservation and enhancement of agricultural and wild biodiversity. He wanted to develop a product with high organoleptic qualities and health benefits: a chocolate that is both healthy and gourmet.
Organic, made with high-quality raw materials and obtained through a more transparent and equitable supply chain (fair trade), this chocolate is truly vegan, it does not contain animal products or raw materials which process involves the use of such products. It is sweetened with coconut sugar, whose cultivation is much more sustainable than the sugarcane. Cacao Crudo is an ethical and sustainable project, aimed to respect the environment and animals.
They only use the high-quality single-origin Criollo variety from Peru, the most valuable existing in the world, which represents less than 1% of world cocoa production. No refined sugars, additives, artificial flavours, soy lecithin, gluten, palm oil and refined vegetable fats are added. Recycled paper for packaging with fully biodegradable vegetable inks and use of energy derived exclusively from renewable sources (sun, wind, water) are added values.
My personal award goes to the wonderful and award-winning Spread Cream with raw hazelnuts. A mix of “Tonda Gentile Romana” hazelnuts, non-toasted coconut sugar and raw cocoa powder, nothing more. A surprising spreadable cream with perfectly balanced flavour: delicate as raw hazelnuts, with the sweet aroma of coconut sugar and bitter hints of cocoa.