As we all know, plant foods keep our hearts in tip-top shape, and on Valentine’s Day, there’s no better plant to celebrate than the tropical cacao tree that gives us chocolate. The tree’s fruit yields cacao beans, which contain flavanoids, an antioxidant shown to lower blood pressure and aid circulation.

The best chocolate in terms of your heart is the least processed. This means the darker the chocolate (and the less sugar and milk), the more health benefits you’ll enjoy.

When searching out healthful chocolate, there are a few things you can look for. The first is high cacao content, generally 70 percent or higher. The second is raw chocolate, which by its very nature means a less processed chocolate. The final is organic chocolate, which is good to seek out because the Environmental Protection Agency allows all kinds of pesticide residues on imported, conventionally grown chocolate.

In Maine, we’re blessed with a number of small-scale companies producing artisanal chocolates that will not only please your sweetheart’s taste buds but leave you with a clear conscience and a clean bill of health. Here, below, are a few chocolates made with organic, raw or vegan ingredients to sample with the one you love.

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]

AIMEE’S LIVIN’ MAGIC PURPLE VELVET ROSEBUDS

Enhance your chocolate experience with added superfoods, including purple aronia (known locally as chokecherry) which has particularly high levels of the antioxidant flavonoids called anthocyanins.

MADE IN: York

INGREDIENTS: Raw organic cacao butter, raw organic mangosteen, raw organic suma, raw organic camu camu, raw organic purple aronia, raw organic stevia and Maine sea salt

OTHER FLAVORS: Life by Chocolate, Maca Mamma’s Hazelnut Cups, Magic Hearts, and Hot Hearts & Roses Aphrodisiac Elixir, among many others

COST: $5.25

BUY IT: Aimee’s Livin’ Magic Store in York and aimeeslivinmagic.com

BLACK DINAH

RED RASPBERRY TRUFFLES

Using organic berries from a small farm in Dixmont, Maine-made dairy products and fair-traded chocolate, these truffles pack a lot of goodness into a small package.

MADE IN: Isle Au Haut

INGREDIENTS: Fair-traded single-origin Venezuelan chocolate, Maine-made heavy cream, Maine-made butter, organic evaporated cane juice and Brightberry Farm organic raspberries

OTHER FLAVORS: Peruvian varietal truffle, lemon white truffle, early gray truffle and Persian love caramel truffle, among many others

COST: $2.50 each, $20 for an 8-piece box or $45 for an 18-piece box

BUY IT: LeRoux Kitchen in Portland, Brown Trading Co. in Portland, Treats in Wiscasset and www.blackdinahchocolatiers.com

MOM’S ORGANIC MUNCHIES CHOCO-FIT MINT

Raw, gluten-free, vegan and low in sugar, these treats fit the requirements of a broad spectrum of special diets without sacrificing anything in the way of flavor.

MADE IN: Freeport

INGREDIENTS: Organic unsweetened dark chocolate (99 percent cocoa), organic almond butter, organic coconut butter, organic raw agave nectar, alcohol-free peppermint oil, organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic walnuts and organic almonds

OTHER FLAVORS: Choco-Fit Espresso, Choco-Fit Almond Sea Salt, Choco-Fit Coconut and On-The-Go Chocolate Hazelnut

COST: $3.50 each or $35.88 for a package of 12

BUY IT: Lois’ Natural Marketplace in Scarborough, Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick, PeRx-U-Up Cafe in Portland, Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport, Whole Foods Market in Portland and www.moms organicmunchies.com

ROBIN’S CHOCOLATE SAUCE TROPICAL DARK FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED

Whether you eat it directly from the jar (with the spoon that comes attached) or drizzle it over ice cream or pie, this sweet is sure to please.

MADE IN: Fort Fairfield

INGREDIENTS: Organic cane sugar, fresh cream, organic dark chocolate (organic cane sugar, organic cocoa liquor, organic cocoa butter, organic lecithin and organic vanilla), butter, organic cocoa liquor, organic vanilla, natural lime flavor, organic lecithin and salt

OTHER FLAVORS: Ginger pear, orange spice, original, blueberry and raspberry

COST: $3 for 1.5 ounces

BUY IT: Black Tie Market & Bistro in Portland, Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine in Portland, Cricket & Co. in Scarborough, Provision’s in Brunswick and www.robinschocolate.com

MAPLE’S ORGANIC RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE TORTE GELATO

Using a milk chocolate gelato base, Maple’s swirls flourless dark chocolate torte and fresh raspberries into pints of this frozen organic delight.

MADE IN: South Portland

INGREDIENTS: Organic Maine milk, organic cream, organic evaporated cane juice, organic Maine eggs, organic cocoa, organic raspberries, organic dark chocolate, organic butter, organic locust bean, carrageenan and Maine sea salt

OTHER FLAVORS: Dark chocolate vegan sorbetto, milk chocolate orange gelato, plain chocolate gelato and turtle gelato

COST: $5.99 a pint

BUY IT: Aurora Provisions in Portland, Terra Cotta Pasta in South Portland, Rosemont Market in Portland and Yarmouth, Whole Foods Market in Portland, Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport and Maple’s in South Portland

RITE CHOCOLATE SPOONABLE DECADENCE MARRIAGE (FIG AND CARDAMOM)

Billed as neither a bar nor a sauce but “an experience,” Rite Chocolate can be eaten out of the jar or used as everything from cupcake frosting and fondue dip to body paint and facial cream.

MADE IN: New Gloucester

INGREDIENTS: Raw honey, raw organic virgin coconut oil, raw organic figs, raw organic cacao, raw organic mesquite, raw organic maca, raw organic vanilla bean, organic cardamom and sea salt

OTHER FLAVORS: Just Be (plain), Sista Love (salted almond), Revenge (hazelnut and cranberry), Innocence (mint and cacao nib), Big-Person License (cinnamon and coffee) and Gramma’s Kitchen (spice)

COST: $35 for a 12-ounce jar

BUY IT: Barrels Market in Waterville, Market at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Axis Natural Foods in Auburn and Square Root Natural Foods in Poland