Los Angeles dietitian and Ashtanga Yoga teacher Nichole Dandrea had an “aha!” moment when she realized that chocolate didn’t have to be junk food and that chocolate confections could incorporate superfoods like pumpkin seeds, oat milk, and coconut and use less added sugar. The result was Nicobella Chocolates: bite-sized vegan truffles in flavors like walnut-flaxseed crunch, organic blueberry-almond, and sunflower-butter banana, as well as chocolate nut snacks. “I wanted to make products with whole-food ingredients to empower people to live a healthier lifestyle,” Dandrea says. “Chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and, when paired with the right ingredients, can actually be considered health food. Sugar is always the last ingredient.” Perhaps the sweetest thing about Nicobella? “Most yogis care about the community at large,” Dandrea says. “We use organic, fair-trade chocolate and work directly with farmers to obtain our ingredients.”
Cocoa for Your Conscience
Next time you enjoy chocolate, savor it with a clear conscience by choosing a more ethical bar. Cocoa production in developing countries often contributes to environmental damage, and the industry forces growers to accept low prices and keeps their communities in poverty. And in West African countries, where more than half of the world’s cocoa is produced, forced child labor is common. Support change by choosing products labeled with any of the following:
- Organic: Spares farmers and their families from the harmful effects of pesticides and herbicides.
- Fair-Trade Certified, Fair Trade, or Fair for Life: Ensures producers are paid a fair price and supports sustainable production and ethical labor practices.
- Direct Trade: Companies work directly with individual growers to support sustainable practices.
- Rain Forest Alliance: Growers must meet strict standards for protecting the rain forest.