The world of better-for-you chocolate is growing by the day. We at MPOF tried quite a few and these are some of our favorites!
We would never, ever, tell you to stop eating chocolate here at MPOF. It's delicious and has some redeeming nutritional qualities and it releases a lot of happy feelings in our bodies. (Yes, that's a gross oversimplification of how our neurotransmitters work). And with a very chocolate-centric holiday coming (ahem, Valentine's Day), you might be looking for a better choice, especially if you're not going to make one of these 15 Healthy Valentine's Day Desserts.
You probably know that when you are working hard toward better health, it can sometimes backfire if you completely eliminate sweet things from your diet. But most chocolate that we can find easily is full of ingredients that might not be pronounceable. Or they're loaded with sugar, which often masks the fact that a lot of commercially produced chocolate is low in actual chocolate. But that's another post for another day.
Chocolate For Paleo, Keto, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Diets
If you are following a low-carb, paleo or keto diet, or just trying to cut back on sweets in general, though, chocolate might be the first thing to go. We looked at products that had high-quality ingredients (organic when possible) and were pronounceable and recognizable as foods. We wanted chocolates with versatility, suitable for paleo, keto, dairy-free, and gluten-free diets.
What we present here are just a few of many better-for-you chocolates available. You can find all of these online from the companies themselves, or in various grocery stores. If your favorite store isn't carrying one of them, ask.
NEED MORE CHOCOLATE? MINT CHOCOLATE ENERGY BITES
Evolved Chocolate is just that. The company says it's "chocolate reinvented," and it's chocolate that's not vilified. (Chocolate is food, not candy. Any good chocolatier will tell you that.) You may have seen their bars, keto cups (riffs on peanut butter cups in various flavors with different nut butters), and other bagged goodies at your grocery store.
Evolved's bars show a depth of flavor and a clean, straightforward taste. You know what you're eating, and that's a refreshing feeling when you're indulging in a treat like chocolate. (Note: One of their product lines includes chocolate plus protein, but we didn't investigate those.)
The details: Organic, Beyond Celiac certification, Rainforest Alliance Certified. Peanut, soy, dairy and refined sugar-free.
The favorites: Signature Dark (72 percent cacao), sweetened with just enough coconut sugar to take the edge of dark chocolate's inherent bitterness. Hazelnut butter is another good one to try, made with "mylk" chocolate, meaning it tastes like milk chocolate but there's no dairy to be found! And those keto cups are really hard to resist. They have 10 grams of fat (MCT oil, nuts), 2 grams of sugar (they are sweetened with monk fruit extract), and 5 grams of fiber (hello, Jerusalem artichoke fiber!).
And now for chocolate as you perhaps have never experienced it before. Honey Mama is a little different, insofar as you'll find it in the refrigerated section, not on the shelves. It's the best and most inventive example of a chocolate bar that we've encountered as of yet. The company got its start at Portland State Farmers' Market, and founder Christy Goldsby was so successful it took off, fast. It's definitely better-for-you chocolate.
Their bars are something of a mashup of truffles, brownies, and fudge in terms of texture and consistency. They use raw honey to sweeten their bars and unrefined coconut oil, the latter of which can separate from the rest of the ingredients in the bars if they aren't refrigerated. There are no stabilizers, preservatives, or anything like that. Flavors are culinarily inspired, and derived from nature as much as possible.
The details: No refined sugar, gluten, dairy, or soy. Paleo friendly.
The favorites: Start with Peruvian Raw, with just raw Peruvian cacao, honey, and sprouted almonds. Other flavors worth investigating? Oregon Mint (it's the most intensely chocolate-mint experience you can have in a chocolate bar), and Tahiti Tangerine, which will make a convert of you if you've never had chocolate and orange before (The Brits love it). If you like coconut, they've got that, too. Seasonal faves aren't to be missed.
If you can find their Valentine's Day Pack, we highly recommend it. It comes with the seasonal favorite, Cherry Hazelnut (real bing cherries, people), Chocolate Cake, Ginger Cardamom, and Lavender Rose.
Hu Kitchen is short for Human Kitchen, named after the fast-casual restaurant that co-founders and family members Jordan Brown, Jason Karp, and Jessica Karpco started in 2012. They struggled to find chocolate that met their primal foods/paleo standards for the restaurant, so they created one. And the rest, as they say, is history. (Delicious history!) The idea behind their company is "to get back to the way humans ate before industry ruined foods." That's a sentiment we can get down with. Sometimes we see ingredients we just don't understand.
We love these bars for their simplicity of ingredients and also the fact that you can taste everything that's in it. There's no weird aftertaste. Hu Kitchen is our go-to for bars with nut butters in them--they've got ones with almond, cashew, and hazelnut butters. (Not all in the same bar!) You can also get baking chocolate from them, too.
The details: Depending on the bars, paleo, no refined or cane sugar, no dairy/soy, no palm oil, lecithin, emulsifiers, sugar alcohols, etc. Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified.
The favorites: My teenaged sons, no strangers to good chocolate, were in awe of Hu's Simple Milk Chocolate. Their admiration is as much a testament to the fact that most milk chocolate we've all likely had isn't really that at all—it's way too sweet—as it is to the excellence of this bar. Hu uses grass-fed milk and it's just so creamy and chocolatey. It's like a high-quality hot chocolate but in bar form. We also really dug the hazelnut butter with dark chocolate (a certain famous spread has NOTHING on this bar), almond butter with milk chocolate, and the salty dark chocolate. The latter has just the right balance of salt and deep dark chocolate flavor.