Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chocolate Pearls are the Perfect Snack, but do you want a Healthy Treat or Sinful Indulgence?

Since today is Saturday and I've been treating myself to nearly anything that is NOT chocolate this week (I know, I know, a rare occurrence), I thought I'd have another "Anything Goes" Saturday.  If you read my posts often, you'll know that my weekdays are dedicated to tasting and writing about solid chocolate bars. But weekends are reserved for various chocolaty treats to satisfy all my other chocolate cravings. 

I was in a very cool health food store yesterday and picked up a package of Elan Bio Perfection 100% Organic 70% dark quinoa cereals.  So you may ask: 'HOW does this satisfy your other chocolate cravings?!  It's health food!'  Well, believe it or not, I crave health food.  It is likely a mental thing because of the constant pressure we are all under to be healthy people, but I do have cravings for healthy snacks, particularly ones that I can snack on for a long time and that are just as chocolaty as solid chocolate bars.  So when I saw the chocolate-covered quinoa, I had to try it to see if it was everything I am looking for.

Turns out, it is!  Admittedly, the chocolate is pretty bitter and very earthy/organic tasting, but I like bitter and earthy, so it works for me. It is totally fun to eat, because the little popped quinoa are so tiny that so you can toss small handfuls into your mouth. Or, you can stretch out the length of your snack time by eating one tiny pearl at a time.  Also, quinoa is considered a complete protein source among plant foods because it "contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans".  It is also high in dietary fibre and phosphorus, magnesium and iron. And also, according to Wikipedia, it is gluten-free and easy to digest.  Pair that with organic dark chocolate and you have a very healthy snack.

Elan is a product of Natya Foods Ltd., a Montreal-based company that also sells organic cacao nibs, cacao beans, chocolate chips, and a variety of other organic products.  I bought their chocolate-covered quinoa at Paris Natural Foods in Sudbury, Ontario. Natya's website has contact information so you can find out where Elan-branded products are sold near you.

My not-quite-so-healthy indulgence today was Godiva Chocolatier PEARLS.  I mixed them into my bowl of chocolate-covered quinoa just for fun.  The Godiva pearls are bigger than the quinoa and solid semi-sweet dark chocolate.  So they were significantly sweeter - almost sugary - in comparison. The flavouring is natural, but additives like butter oil and confectioner's glaze (including corn syrup and shellac), make the Godiva pearls less healthy than the chocolate-covered quinoa.  However, it was a nice sweet addition to offset the bitter chocolate covering the quinoa.  My toddler also loved the Godiva pearls - for the taste and because she thought they were little bouncy balls of chocolate (yes, she did try to bounce one on the floor).

Now I am officially feeling buzzed from too much dark chocolate.  Although small "pearls" of chocolate are fun to eat, it is easy to eat too many!  Which leaves me wondering: how many chocolate-covered quinoa pearls does it take to make my "healthy" chocolate snack unhealthy?

For your interest, here are the package details from the two chocolate snacks that I tasted today:

Elan bio perfection 100% Organic 70% Dark Quinoa Cereals, 150 g
Nativa Foods Ltd., Montreal, QC (Canada)
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, white sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (non-GMO), Arabic gum and center popped up quinoa (all organic).  May contain traces of peanuts, tree nuts, soy, sesame seeds, milk or wheat. Certified by: Ecocert Canada.

Godiva Chocolatier Pearls (Dark Chocolate), 43g (1.5oz)
Ingredients: Bittersweet chocolate (chocolate liquor (processed with alkali), sugar, cocoa butter, butter oil, soy lecithin (emulsifier), natural flavor, milk), natural flavouring, confectioner's glaze (sugar, corn syrup, tapioca dextrin, shellac).  May contain tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and eggs.

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