A dozen organic roses, a candlelit vegan dinner, a subscription to the kale-of-the-month club – these are all fine Valentine’s Day ideas for your sugar-free sweetie. But I’ll be honest: Chocolate is the key to unlocking this health food fan’s heart.
Of course, it helps if the chocolate is dark, made with organic ingredients and handcrafted close to home. Sound like a tall order?
Not here in Maine, where we’re blessed with numerous dark chocolate options.
I’m fond of the Freeport-based MOM’s line of raw chocolate bars and the boxed vegan chocolates from Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit. Maple’s Organics, which has a scoop shop in Yarmouth, makes an amazing dark chocolate sorbetto, and the Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro in Portland serves a dreamy chocolate orange mousse pie made from tofu.
But this Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking small. More specifically, I searched for the best Maine-made, good-for-you chocolates that you can hold in your hand.
Since studies show that small amounts of dark chocolate improve heart health, what could be more romantic than handing your honey a decadent treat that tastes great and is good for you, too? This trio of chocolates beg to be eaten by hand.
PURE LOVE CHOCOLATE HEARTS
Made by Kids Gone Raw, Portland
Bag of 10 hearts: $5.99
Where to buy: Lois’ Natural Marketplace, Royal River Natural Foods, Morning Glory Natural Foods, Portland Food Co-op buying club and at etsy.me/1kkqIfY.
These raw chocolates melt like butter when they hit your tongue, but there isn’t a lick of dairy in them. These tiny treats are totally vegan and made without refined sugar, using raw agave nectar instead.
The women behind the Kids Gone Raw team hand-make the chocolates in small batches at their raw kitchen on the top of Munjoy Hill. Each foil-wrapped heart is the perfect size to satisfy a chocolate craving.
Kids Gone Raw also offers a number of other chocolate goodies, including the Go Bananas Cookies (which feature a Pure Love Chocolate Heart in the center), Pure Love Chocolate Bars and Chocolate Kale Chips (which surprisingly taste nothing like kale and everything like chocolate).
Chocolate Coconut Popsicle
Made by Pure Pops, Portland
One popsicle: $3
Where to buy: Portland Winter Farmers Market, Brunswick Winter Farmers Market and Pure Pops, 200 Anderson St., Portland (open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday).
With a creamy chocolate interior, a coating of dark chocolate and a dusting of coconut flakes, this frozen treat is sure to warm you up. Not only are most of its ingredients organic, but this vegan popsicle is also gluten-free and sugar-free. The sweetness comes from dates.
The Pure Pops natural popsicle company was started by Tanya Rosenberg in the fall of 2012 and offers a wide range of popsicle flavors made from natural, organic and often local ingredients.
The selection is always changing, but Pure Pops has one other popsicle on tap for Valentine’s Day: the Chocolate Lavender, which is made with organic milk from the Swallowtail Farm and Creamery. It is also gluten-free and is made with organic sugar.
Made by Bixby Bar, Belfast
One bar: $3.50
Where to buy: Whole Foods Market and online at www. bixbyco.com, where you can buy a special Valentine’s Day crate of six vegan bars for $23 or a crate of 12 bars for $45.
Made with almonds, strawberries and Ceylon cinnamon, the Heart’s Delight bar combines sweetness with an alluring bit of heat. It is one of three vegan bars made with 72 percent dark chocolate by this premium organic chocolate company.
Each bar is also gluten-free and made without artificial additives or genetically modified ingredients. Owned by Kate McAleer, the company was a finalist for this year’s Good Food Awards.
The other vegan Bixby Bars are The Whippersnapper, which is made with walnuts, wild Maine blueberries and Tellicherry black pepper, and The Birdie, which is made with hazelnuts, black currants and fleur de sel.
Avery Yale Kamila is a freelancer who lives in Portland, where she writes about health foods and always celebrates Valentine’s Day with dark chocolate. She can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org