Okay, let’s just get the obvious out the way (because I know what you may be thinking): chocolate and sugar are technically not Paleo. But in the primal-living-world, most of us like to have somewhat healthier options when we do want to indulge a little (it’s part of that Paleo “gray area”). So whether I’m baking Paleo treats or looking to enjoy a special holiday (like Valentine’s Day!), using a healthy (or healthier) chocolate brand is always of importance to me. It’s also important for me to find healthy chocolate brands that offer sustainable and ethical choices.
We all know that dark chocolate (70% or higher) has potential health benefits (like lowering blood pressure), but commercial chocolate is filled with all sorts of other things that aren’t so good for us (or the planet). Finding a healthy and ethical chocolate brand wasn’t easy at first, but I’ve come to find there are some great options out there.
What To Look for when Choosing a Healthy Chocolate Brand
Here are the most important qualities I look for when choosing a healthy chocolate brand:
- Fair Trade
- Soy-free (and free of other unhealthy emulsifiers)
- Sweetened without refined sugar
And here’s why:
Of course, I always choose organic to avoid pesticides (cocoa is one of the most heavily sprayed crops) and fair trade (because the majority of the world’s cocoa is harvested via child and slave labor, it’s important to seek out brands that buy their cocoa from ethical sources).
Choosing to avoid soy, dairy, gluten, and refined sugar is, of course, all part of avoiding inflammatory ingredients (not to mention most are common allergens). The following brands meet all the criteria above (and all the products I’ve tried from these brands happen to be nut-free also). So just in time for Valentine’s Day, here are some of my favorites:
Equal Exchange (sweetened with organic raw cane sugar) is probably my favorite chocolate brand. Not only do their products check off everything on my list, but the taste of their dark chocolate is deliciously decadent (and one of the best I’ve ever tasted). Their chocolate chips are the only ones I use for baking (it’s not easy to find pre-made chocolate chips that are organic, fair trade, dairy-free, and soy-free). Jeremy and I also like to occasionally indulge in their chocolate bars and minis. Please note that Equal Exchange carries products that contain milk, so be sure to seek out their dark chocolate options instead. Their chocolate chips are “produced in a facility that does not process peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat and soy,” so they should be free of cross-contamination. (However, some of the chocolate bars and minis — even the ones labeled vegan/dairy-free — could contain traces of milk and nuts, so be aware if you have allergies.)
2. Alter Eco
Alter Eco (sweetened with organic raw cane sugar) also makes delicious chocolate bars that check off all the boxes above. Be sure to look for the dairy-free options (they do include milk in some of their chocolate products), and please be aware that although all products are soy-free, they are produced on “equipment shared with soy, tree nuts, and milk” products…those with allergies should be aware.
EatingEvolved (sweetened with organic coconut sugar) is a delicious option for those wanting a slightly less-sweet treat. They offer several chocolate/cocoa products, including chocolate bars and coconut butter cups. All their products (and equipment) are dairy-free (and vegan), soy-free, and gluten-free, so there are no concerns about cross-contamination.
No matter what healthy chocolate brand you choose to treat yourself, always be sure to read ingredient lists to make sure those ingredients will work for you. And feel free to check out these and other companies to learn more about how they are purchasing from sustainable and ethical sources.