I used to wonder “Why are the good things bad for you? that is so unfair!” But by good I was referring to some (junk) food I thought tasted awesome: the very sweet, the fried and – a must – the artificially flavoured. The winners? Well-packaged and shamelessly advertised chocolate bars!
As we grow wiser I think, our palate develops too, and learns how to detect real flavours, enabling us to realise that those tricky bars taste nothing like cocoa or real chocolate. And once we get to taste the real deal, “the food of God” as the Greek called it (theobroma), there is no turning back!
In fact, cocoa, when consumed reasonably is a good thing. Some call it superfood, and it can even have beneficial effects on our brain and mood. (Whohoo, life is beautiful after all!)
So, out of the 4.5 million tons of cocoa consumed annually and sold in thousands of different forms, that leaves us with many options to go for the healthier versions: thinking raw cocoa beans, nibs, and powders added to your colourful and fruitful smoothies bowls, but also delicious chocolate bars produced ethically and that will – with no harm – add a daily dose of pleasure to your life!
Dear fellow Thailand residents, did you know that our country produced cocoa?
About 500 tons a year. That is enough for some creative and passionate artisans to have started their chocolate ventures or inspire them at the very least, and here are some local brands I think you should check!
Before introducing those local brands, let’s be reminded about the good reasons why we should totally have some chocolate once in a while….
The expert’s point of view on Cocoa and Chocolate, featuring: Morgane QUINCHON
Morgane QUINCHON is s a registered dietician and nutritionist who lived in Bangkok (Health and Wellness Director at Rasayana Retreat, Nutritionist at Dressed Thailand) and recently moved to Phuket to join the wellness team at Thanyapura.
“Supercharge your Health with a Powerful Superfood. Cacao is the raw form of dark chocolate. It is by far one of the greatest superfoods Mother Nature has given us. It is full of a type of antioxidants called flavonoids which among their benefits, help the brain to stay more concentrated, more creative and enhance memory, plus they improve the person’s mood. Eating chocolate can trigger a release of serotonin within the brain, which contributes to the pleasurable experience.
Chocolate provides some vitamins and minerals, like magnesium, necessary for your muscles and nerves to function correctly — including regulating your heart rate — and helping your immune and skeletal systems stay strong.
Chocolate contains sugar, although the exact amount will vary depending on how the chocolate is prepared and processed. Sugar is a carbohydrate, which the body needs for quick energy and proper brain function. However, excessive intake of sugar can adversely affect health so moderation is important when enjoying chocolate.
Chocolate is relatively high in fat. However, the dietary fat in chocolate is called “stearic acid,” which does not affect blood lipids as much as some other types of fat.
Next time you have a piece of chocolate, allow it to “melt in your mouth” in order to fully appreciate the taste and texture.”
More about Morgane and contact details here.
HEALTHOLICIOUS: The Ketogenic experts, specialized in low-carb, sugar-free chocolate
Ayano and Tobias Schramm are the inspiring couple behind Healholicious concept, that started from their personal needs to find superpower foods for themselves and their family.
Few years ago, they took a path towards eliminating what they realized was no longer wanted in their diet (starting with diet sodas!) and after some digging about healthy dieting such as the cyclical ketogenic diet, they applied what they discovered to their own lifestyle.
It didn’t take long until they started to see beneficial results. From sleeping better, to feeling more energised, all the way to managing to conceive naturally, after years of trying so with medical assistance.
That was the beginning of Healholicious, spreading a wave of healthy and sugar-free foods & beverages around them, their employees and their neighbours.
Today, they have curated a list of health-boosting products such as MCT coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, and quality coffee beans (which you can all taste in their unique Bullet Proof Coffee).
And after intense studies and a professional partnership (with Chef Nick), they are also making bean-to-bar chocolate. Watch out for the brand “Böhnchen & Co.“.
All of their cacao beans come from certified organic farms and they always include local organic products whenever they can for all their products.
They are specialised in low-carb, sugar-free chocolate, using a sweetener mixture of non-GMO erythritol, non-GMO inulin and certified organic monk-fruit extract, which has very little net carb and it is suitable for diabetes and children as well.
Healholicious product highlights:
> Dark chocolate bites with wild harvested pili nuts: sugar-free with organic cocoa beans from tanzania, > Organic cacao powder from Sri Lanka, > Organic cocoa husk tea, > Organic cacao nibs from Vietnam, > Organic steam-deodorized cocoa butter, > Kombucha-fermented organic cashew nuts coated in darkest milk chocolate, > Organic raw wild honey infused cocoa nibs (with honey collected from wild flowers in Chiang Mai).
How to get some Healtholicious / Boehnchen Chocolate?
> On their Healholicious online shop and through their partners’ shops, spas, hotels, restaurants, cafe across Thailand.
> Follow them on social media: Facebook (Healtholicious + Boehnchen Chocolate) and Instagram (Healholicious + Boehnchen Chocolate)
They will be doing a lot of chocolate tasting events at their cafe or partner cafés downtown. Follow them no to miss that out!
O CHOCOLAH : The high-end Belgian Chocolate crafted in Bangkok
“One chocolate a day keeps the stress away” – O Chocolah motto
After a first career in corporate finance, Paul, a Belgian citizen, co-founded O Chocolah with his partner in life, Navaporn (Aor). It took over a year of research and training to create the O Chocolah happiness therapy.
The concept is simple : a minimalistic box containing 7 Belgian dark chocolate truffles. A week of chocolate therapy to encourage customers indulging in dark chocolate every day.
O Chocolah was created on September 13th 2013, the international day of chocolate. The main objective was to fulfill the crave of local chocolate lovers in search for high end chocolate.
O Chocolah dark chocolate truffles are (for the moment) made exclusively with the finest Belgian chocolate, fresh ingredients and crafted in Bangkok.
Belgian chocolate is known worldwide for its exquisite quality with more than a hundred years of know how. It also contains 100% pure cacao and cacao butter. NO palm oil! They do not use any added sugar nor preservative.
O Chocolah product highlights:
> Box containing 7 Belgian dark chocolate truffles
How to get some O’Chocolah Truffles?
> O Chocolah happiness therapy is available at the monthly Passion Fair and the Hope Fair.
> From time to time, they participate in special event to keep promoting Belgian chocolate and educating our customers about (real) chocolate.
> Customers can also order directly via O Chocolah’s Facebook page.
> Follow them on Instagram.
They are currently working on the development of few new products using local ingredients such as Thai and Vietnamese cacao beans.
SIAMAYA CHOCOLATE: From sustainable and ethical Thai cocoa beans
Founded by three inspired humans: Neil Ransom, Tangkwa and Kristian Levinsen who also shared a passion for quality products and healthy lifestyle.
They all dreamt of starting up their own project, and they saw an opportunity in creating quality chocolate in Thailand. Combining their various skills is part of their strength: Neil has a PhD in sustainability, Kristian is expert in web development, and Tangkwa – who comes from Chiangmai, where the company is based – has a background in bakery, which gives her an amazing sense in good flavours!
They work closely with the community, and are using only local ingredients in their products, from start to finish. Yes, even their logo has been designed by a young and talented local artist 🙂
Being very open about paying about 30% above market prices for their quality cacao, they are committed to making sure they are being part of a positive change in agriculture towards more sustainable and profitable products for the local farmers.
Siamaya Chocolate is an ethical and inclusive company, with no “easy” solutions, when it comes to using healthy ingredients and staying as far away from pesticides and chemicals.
Siamaya product highlights:
> Dark chocolate bars: 85% dark, 75% dark; > Milk chocolate bars: 65% dark with coconut milk, 45% milk; > Flavoured chocolate: 75% dark & chili, thai tea milk, mocha milk, chai spice milk; > Cacao nibs & Cocoa powder
How to get some Siamaya Chocolate?
> Contact them directly on their Facebook page > Find their products at Paleo Robbie’s > Markets around Chiang Mai, check their website (Soon they will have an e-shop)
Follow them to know about their upcoming chocolate & wine/beer/coffee pairing!
XOCO: Cruelty-free, ethical chocolate that speaks to your emotions
An imaginative concept that respects cacao and makes people happy. Using chocolate as a wonderful connector to unite a community through cacao.
Self-taught Natalie has started her chocolate venture in Gainesville, Florida before taking it to Thailand under the name XOCO.
Her mission, from the beginning, was to make products that customers absolutely love and that they connect with emotionally. “If I can’t hook them in that way, then they won’t care about the chocolate and they won’t care about the ecological and human element that delivered that piece of chocolate”, she said and added that “cruelty-free, ethical chocolate must cost more. If it’s cheap, trust me, someone else has paid for it along the way and this is what the mindful consumer must contemplate when they purchase chocolate”.
XOCO offers a range of products, such as the “Badass Bars” (I personally love the concept!), through which Natalie’s words on the emotional connection come alive and through our tastebuds. They combine creatively the true taste of cacao with ingredients that we can relate to, based on our environment (for instance with the Thai spiced and Caramel with Kaffir, Lemongrass & Chilli Vegan bar), or based on our chocolate fantasies, and I am referring here to her “XOCO Crunch” that delivers buttery, crunchy, sweet and salty… all of that WITH chocolate?! I haven’t tried that one yet but it won’t be long before I do 🙂
She also offers chocolate in an even purest form through her “XOCO Purist Barks”.
Where to get some XOCO chocolates:
> Online shop for Bangkok residents (deliveries made via motorcycle courier)
> Available at Ceresia Coffee Roasters in Sukhumvit 33/1
> XOCO can also be found regularly at the Passion Fair and the Hope Fair , Deco Market and Keys Market and on occasion at the Bangkok Farmers’ Market
Best to keep updated by following XOCO Instagram and Facebook page.
Note from Natalie: “If you have a store and are looking for something new for your shelves, please contact us! We’re looking for appropriate stockists who match our drive and passion for quality ethical products”.
BEAN BLAH BLAH: The bean-to bar chocolate blog
If you are obsessed, or let’s say passionate, about chocolate, there is one blog you should follow, and it is called Bean Blah Blah.
The founder is called Mae, and through her blog, Facebook page and Instagram account, she is sharing with us about crafted chocolate around the world.
Bean Blah Blah aim to share and connect their local audience with the worldwide bean-to-bar chocolate scene and promote Thai cacao to world.
Most of the content is in Thai but you will also find articles in English such as: > “Tempering: From bean to bar, cocoa to chocolate“; > “A chocolate conversation with chef Yu”; > Singapore’s finest : Jay Chua of Fossa Chocolate
They organise chocolate tasting workshops, the next one will be around mid of this year, so don’t forget to follow them to get all the details.