Saturday, January 30, 2016

Amella - Honey Chocolate Mint Caramels - Jan. 30, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Amella
Honey Chocolate Mint Caramels
Good+
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.11 oz. (60 g.) in total box of 6 caramels
Calories: 150 calories in 3 pieces
Cost: $ N/A
Purchased from: Amella,  El Segundo, CA

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate, Honey and Almonds Theme Week.

Amella (El Segundo, CA) offers an award-winning variety of caramels—including agave-sweetened caramels, sea salt caramels, vegan and cocoa butter caramels, and honey caramels.

I found today's Honey Chocolate Mint honey caramel flavor at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco when I stopped by the Amella booth.

These individually wrapped, certified gluten free and kosher, caramels had a satisfying smooth, chewy melt.

The flavors were well balanced and these honey-sweetened caramels were not overly sweet (thank you). The peppermint was authentic, and not overpowering (thank you). The mint was also mellowed a bit by the cream (#1 ingredient) in these caramels. The honey flavor was pleasing; and the chocolate provided a rich flavor backdrop.

If you wanted to fancy things up, you could also unwrap these chocolate caramels, and include them in a dessert tapas plate with honey, almonds, fruit and mint leaves.

Previously I'd tried Amella Roasted Almond (agave) caramels with dark chocolate. I think these would be a nice complementary flavor on such a plate.




Friday, January 29, 2016

Toblerone - Swiss Milk Corn, Honey, Almond Nougat bar - Jan. 29, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Toblerone
(Mondelez Global LLC)
Swiss Milk Chocolate with Toasted Crushed Corn and Honey and Almond Nougat bar
Good
Weight: 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 540 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $0.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate, Honey and Almonds Theme Week.

Toblerone of Switzerland bars have a unique triangular shape—reminiscent of Swiss mountain peaks.

Today's Milk Chocolate with Toasted Crushed Corn and Honey and Almond Nougat bar—distributed by (Kraft Foods' snack division) Mondalez Global LLC (East Hanover, NJ)—was chock full of sweet, toasted corn crisps, almonds bits, sugar, honey, and a bit of vanilla. Egg whites helped bind and create a crunchy, nougat-like texture and flavor.

Looking at this bar made in Switzerland made me want to go trekking in the Swiss Alps. Until then...Eating an entire bar for breakfast fueled a walk around the neighborhood.






Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vosges - Chestnut Honey Almond bar - Jan. 28, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Vosges Haut-Chocolat
Chestnut Honey and Almond bar
Good +
Weight: 2.25 oz. (64 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 285 calories in 3/4 bar
Cost: $7.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate, Honey and Almonds Theme Week.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago, IL) offers chocolate bars with a wide variety of flavor inclusions—including honey and almonds.

Today's bar also incorporated a relatively unusual ingredient: chestnuts. These tree nuts have a sweet, nutty, mildly earthy baked potato flavor. My first chestnut memory: the aroma of roasted chestnuts in New York City, buying a small bag, peeling off the glossy brown shells, and enjoying the warm chestnuts on a winter day.

This gluten-free, dark 62% cacao filled bar was imbued with sweet almond (marzipan) flavor. The caramel-colored center was a soft blend of Italian chestnut puree, Swiss almond, amaretto liqueur, and raw Hawaiian white (Kiawe flower nectar) honey*.

*Tasting notes hint at slight pineapple and coconut flavor 



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

WB Kitchen - ONA Chocolate Chip Cookies - Jan. 27, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

WB Kitchen
ONA Cookies - Chocolate Chip Cookies
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (56 g.) in total package
Calories: 80 calories in 1 cookie (1/2 package)
Cost: N/A
Purchased from: N/A - from ONA Cookies/WB Kitchen

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Gluten Free Cookie Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate, Honey and Almonds Theme Week.

Today's ONA Chocolate Chip Cookies, were distributed by WB Kitchen (Loveland, CO). They were part of a line of individually wrapped, certified gluten free and certified paleo, honey-sweetened bars and cookies.

Pictured at right is a sub-set of their products. (E.g., they also created a honey nut bar.)

The first ingredient in today's turquoise package of 2 slightly chewy rounds: almond flour. Second ingredient: honey. Number three ingredient: cacao nibs—that served as the chocolate chips.

Today's cookie also made good use of coconut (sugar, flour, oil and shredded coconut). It's hard to out-shout that much coconut, but maca powder, cinnamon and sea salt created some nice background flavor. These cookies felt substantial and satisfying.

If you're looking for gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and/or paleo offerings that incorporate some cacao (nibs in this case), give them a try.

WB Kitchen's mission:
"WB Kitchen is dedicated to creating whole food sweet treats with the highest quality ingredients possible."

Winter Fancy Food Show - San Francisco
I met WB Kitchen president and founder, Chris Feuille, from Colorado, at the recent Winter Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco. I enjoyed speaking with him on the show floor. It was fortunate to have found them, amongst the 1,000s of people there.

There were more gluten-free and specialty health offerings like this than I remember seeing at this show before. (There were fewer confectioners with artificial and heavily processed ingredients (hurray).)

This show list included cacao/chocolate items to be sure—as well as many items that I was inspired to combine with chocolate, back home at my mad scientist chocolate lab. (Saffron spice blends, lassi, grass-fed everything, pork dust, rice cakes and matcha green tea from Japan, coconut palm sugar from the Philippines, gluten free wraps, honey, cheese, crickets, etc.) More about these in coming weeks.

Sweet or savory...the possibilities for cacao are truly endless.




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Simple Mills - Gluten Free Almond Flour Mix, Chocolate Chip Cookie - Jan. 26, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Simple Mills
Gluten Free Almond Flour Mix
Chocolate Chip Cookie (check name and date above in title)
Good - Good+
Weight: .95 oz. (27 g.) / 7.4 oz. (216 g.) total package of dry mix
Calories: 133.5 calories in 3 small cookies
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package of mix
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA


Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Gluten Free Cookies Theme Week.

Simple Mills (Chicago, IL) produces a family of Gluten Free Almond Flour mixes, including today's Chocolate Chip Cookie flavor.

Their line includes "No Refined Sugars," and is considered "Low-Glycemic, Paleo-Friendly, Non-GMO, Free of Grain, Gluten, Soy and Dairy."

These cookies had a subtle nutty, almond butter aroma, and a satisfying chew (and weren't too sweet* - thank you!). The melted organic chocolate chips and vanilla suffused these almond flour cookies with pleasing added flavor. A bit of organic coconut flour added a very slight coconut note.

*These cookies were sweetened with organic coconut nectar.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gluten Free Klippy's - Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies - Jan. 25, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Gluten Free Klippy's LLC
Chocolate Sea Salt Cookie Dough
Good
Weight: 1.59 oz. (44.9 g.) / 12.7 oz. (360 g.) in total box of 8 cookies
Calories: 190 calories in 1 cookie
Cost: $7.99 for 1 box of 8 cookies
Purchased from: Mollie Stone's Markets, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Gluten-Free Cookies Theme Week.

Gluten-free cookie options are more numerous now than in years past.  Today's Chocolate Sea Salt cookie dough offering was from Gluten Free Klippy's LLC (Santa Clara, CA). The dough came packaged in pre-formed, frozen cookie form.

I placed the 8 frozen chocolate dough rounds on a cookie sheet, and baked them for 13-15 minutes. The results: fresh, hot cookies right out of the oven.

Each generously-sized cookie had a rich flavor and texture, and possessed an attractive crunchy-to-chewy ratio (65% crunchy, 35% chewy). The sea salt was very subtle.

This cookie dough was easier and faster than making cookies from scratch (or a mix), and offered a warm fresh cookie experience that already-baked cookies usually can't.

Also, the package size was practical. Eight cookies would be about the right number for most small households.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

XO Baking Co. - Double Chocolate Chip Cookies - Jan. 24, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

XO Baking Co.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Good++- Very Good
Weight: 2.65 oz. (75 g.) / 15 oz. (425 g.) in total box of mix
Calories: 270 calories (estimate) in 4 cookies
Cost: $5.99 for 1 box of mix
Purchased from: HomeGoods/T.J. Maxx, Santa Clara, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Gluten Free Cookies Theme Week.

These Double Chocolate Chip Cookies were from XO Baking Co. (Woodland Hills, CA).

Solid chocolate with chocolate chips—not surprisingly today's XO cookies offered the most chocolatey tasting gluten-free cookies yet this week.

These buttery dark beauties were crispy and slightly chewy, providing textural appeal for both crunchy and soft cookie fans.




Saturday, January 23, 2016

Milton's - Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - Jan. 23, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Milton's Baking Company
Milton's Craft Bakery
Gluten Free Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies
Good
Weight: .74 oz. (21 g.) / 5.9 oz. (168 g.) in total box
Calories: 90 calories in 1 cookie
Cost: $1.99 for 1 box of 8 cookies
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Gluten Free Cookies Theme Week.

Milton's Baking Company (Carlsbad, CA) offers a line of gluten-free crackers and cookies. Today's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies came packaged in a box of 8.

These soft-baked cookies held their shape, weren't too crumbly and, as promised, had a soft bite and slight chewiness to them. A fairly generous sprinkling of chocolate chips added some rich flavor and melt in a sea of cookie sweetness.




Friday, January 22, 2016

Goodie Girl - Quinoa Choco-Chip Cookies - Jan. 22, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Goodie Girl Inc.
Quinoa Choco-Chip Cookies
Good +
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 6 oz. (170 g.) in total bag
Calories: 130 calories in 2 cookies
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bag
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate and Gluten Free Cookies.

I sampled two Quinoa Choco-Chip Cookies from Goodie Girl Inc. (NYC).

The upbeat, colorful (resealable) Goodie Girl package set the stage. Enter company founder, Shira Berk. She had a decade-long career in punk rock PR*, a stint as a plus-size fashion model, and has a cafe in Manhattan.

She's juggled family and work, and focused on mastering "the perfect dose of sugar." Give this woman a hand; she knows how to live life fully. Like many entrepreneurs, I hope she also is able to squeeze in a rest now and then.

To the marketing tagline "Just the right amount of wrong," I would add: and just the right amount of crunch. these cookies were flatter and crunchier (and less crumbly) than most gluten-free cookies. And sometimes you just need something with a buttery snap to satisfy that urge to crunch.

These semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies were certified gluten-free and made with a gluten-free flour blend that included white rice flour, quinoa flour, corn starch and tapioca flour.

*Her closing words/advice on the packaging: "Eat up and rock-on." Words to live by. Thanks, I'll give it my best shot.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Among Friends - phil 'em up, cj's double chocolate cookie mixes - Jan. 21, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Among Friends, LLC
Phil 'em up Chocolate Cranberry Cookie Mix
Good +
Weight: 2.26 oz. (64 g.) in 3 prepared cookies/ 14 oz. (397 g.) in 1 package of dry mix
Calories: 280 calories (estimate) in 3 prepared cookies
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package of mix
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Among Friends, LLC
CJ's Double Chocolate Cookie Mix
Good +
Weight: 2 oz. (56 g.) in 3 prepared cookies/ 12.4 oz. (352 g.) in 1 package of dry mix
Calories: 220 calories (estimate) in 3 prepared cookies
Cost: $2.99 for 1 package of mix
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Gluten Free Cookie Theme Week.

I'm kicking off this week with two gluten-free cookie mixes from Among Friends, LLC (Ann Arbor, MI). Nothing smells better than freshly baked goods coming out of an oven.

Among Friends is the creation of two friends: Suzie Miller and Lizann Anderson. These two moms (who had six kids and seven pets between them) had a common vision: "Happy healthy whole grain."

The founders named each cookie or cake mix after someone they knew; Phil and CJ are friends.

The phil 'em up, gluten-free oatmeal cookies were studded chocolate chips and whole dried cranberries, and had a slight, sweet coconut flavor. Oat flour and rolled oats gave these cookies a satisfying, slightly chewy, hearty texture.

cj's double chocolate cookies had an earthy, brownie chocolate flavor, and were lighter in texture and sugar than one would expect. (This second mix also contained two eggs vs. one egg in the oatmeal cookies.)

Finding cookies that aren't overly sweet (made with high-quality ingredients you want to taste) is always a win in my book.

Both these mixes were made with certified gluten free and non-GMO verified ingredients.




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Three Twins Ice Cream - Banana Nut Confetti - Jan. 20, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Three Twins Ice Cream
Banana Nut Confetti ice cream
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/2 cup (85 g.) / 1 Pint (473 g.) in total container
Calories: 180 calories in 1/2 cup serving
Cost: $1.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Today's chocolate came in the form of chocolate chips. More specifically, it was part of a scoop of Banana Nut Confetti organic banana ice cream from Three Twins Ice Cream (Petaluma, CA).

I'm a fan of Three Twins ice creams -- a local San Francisco Bay Area ice cream brand. There's more of the good stuff (organic ingredients), and less of the stuff we don't really need (like preservatives, gums, etc.).

The Banana Nut Confetti ice cream was a little lighter than the caramelized banana chip gelato from yesterday, but just as enjoyable. And who doesn't like some relatively healthy ice cream with chocolate confetti* on a gray winter day? Count me in. The specks of confetti allow for more chocolate flavor accessibility (than larger, frozen chunks of chocolate).

Tiny bits of walnut rounded out the flavors nicely; nuts often helps balance out the sweetness of fruit and sugar and add some texture and richness.

Today was Day #8 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

*Today's Banana Nut Confetti joins Chocolate Orange Confetti and Vanilla Chocolate Chip flavors in the Three Twins confetti hall of fame.





Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Haagen-Dazs - Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato - Jan. 19, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

Haagen-Dazs
Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/2 cup (105 g.) / 14 fl. oz. (414 g.) in total container
Calories: 260 calories in 1/2 cup serving
Cost: $4.79 for 1 container
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

I'm ending Banana Week with two more frozen desserts—the first is from the Eastern U.S., and tomorrow's (bonus Day #8 entry) hails from the West.

Today's Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato "Italian Style Dessert" was from Haagen-Dazs (a division of Nestle Ice Cream, that originated in the Bronx, NY).

I couldn't resist piling this gelato atop fresh banana slices. I was hoping to create an homage to a large exotic looking (maroon-colored) banana flower. Instead it looked like a tribute to cartoon character Marge Simpson* and her famous, if slightly askew, beehive hairdo.

No matter. This caramelized banana gelato with chocolate chips was sweet, creamy and delicious with a hint of bananas foster** flavor. You could serve this gelato with sauteed or flambeed banana slices and whipped cream if you wish; however, I'd suggest eating it unembellished. You don't really need chocolate sauce and toppings here. And, the chocolate chips provide periodic bursts of chocolate flavor already.

---0---0---0---0---

*Marge Simpson is the lovable wife of cartoon protagonist Homer Simpson, on the long-running television cartoon series, The Simpsons, that debuted in 1989. Marge sports a very tall tower of beehive-style hair, that sometimes seems to lean to one side.

**Bananas Foster is a dessert—made with bananas, vanilla ice cream, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and dark rum—that became famous at Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans, LA. This was a city that served as a destination port for bananas coming into the U.S. in that time, and perhaps an example of taking advantage of "local" ingredients. I saw this dish flamboyantly prepared at a restaurant many years ago in the southeastern U.S.; and my fascination grew as the server lit it on fire. 










Monday, January 18, 2016

Theo Chocolate - Kids' Whole Grain Crunch Banana bar - Jan. 18, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Theo Chocolate
Kids' Whole Grain Crunch Banana bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 150 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.19 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Country Sun Natural Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Theo Chocolate, Inc. (Seattle, WA) makes a wide variety of chocolate bars. But, this was the first small kids* bar I'd seen or tasted. The small bar size will likely appeal to kids and grown-ups.

If you ever loved the crisp rice embedded in a milk chocolate bar (think Nestle Crunch), you should try today's Kids' Whole Grain Crunch Banana bar from Theo Chocolate, Inc. (Seattle, WA).

This updated version of a crunch bar was certified fair trade and organic, and made with (still sweet) 45% milk chocolate. The traditional rice crisps have been replaced by puffed brown rice and quinoa. There's also a whisper of subtle banana flavor and texture (from bits of freeze-dried banana).

Happily there are some missing ingredients as well, such as certain preservatives and additives.

And, no need to fear the term "whole grains" if you're gluten-free. There is brown rice and quinoa, but no wheat or barley ingredients.

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

*Theo Chocolate's milk chocolate Kids' Whole Grain Crunch Banana bar was one of three, smaller-sized, flavored kids' whole grain crunch bars that Theo rolled out in 2015. (Other flavors include Almond dark chocolate and Raspberry dark chocolate.) 




Sunday, January 17, 2016

2 Degrees - Chocolate Banana bar - Jan. 17, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Two Degrees, Inc.
2 Degrees Chocolate Banana bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 1.5 oz. (44 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.19 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

Today's Chocolate Banana bar was made by Two Degrees, Inc. (San Francisco, CA).

This snack bar had a soft crunch and easy chew -- and was slightly less sweet than many bars. The addition of fiber (quinoa, millet and chia) made this bar with natural banana and cacao flavors more satisfying.

I also tried crumbling bits of this bar on a tiny cup of rich, creamy banana gelato. It provided a nice contrast of textures; and I enjoyed these crumbles more than a traditional ice cream topping—such as chocolate syrup or sugar sprinkles.

Dark chocolate contains magnesium and iron, and bananas are high in potassium. Gelato can provide a healthy dose of calcium. So, this morning meal was relatively balanced for a dessert breakfast.

Two Degrees founders are committed to using proceeds from their kosher, gluten-free, vegan, GMO free bars to help prevent childhood hunger. (Today's Chocolate Banana bar was also nut free.)






Saturday, January 16, 2016

Talenti - Banana Swirl Gelato Pops - Jan. 16, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Talenti
Banana Swirl Gelato Pops
Good - Good +
Weight: 3 fl. oz. (68 g.) / 9 fl. oz. (266 g.) in total box of 3 pops
Calories: 180** calories in 1 pop
Cost: $6.49 for 1 box of 3 pops
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

Happy January to all. Tropical items in winter remind me of brighter, sunnier days to come.

These items also illustrate the amazing access we have to a wide variety of foods from around the world. I can't grow cacao or bananas in my yard, but I can buy them in four of five markets within a 5-mile (8-kilometer) radius of where I live. Some, like today's offering, are in frozen form.

Today's Banana Swirl Gelato Pops were from Talenti* (Minneapolis, MN and Marietta, GA). "Argentine caramel" was swirled through banana gelato, that was then dipped in dark chocolate. The pop is a variation on the company's Banana Chocolate Swirl Gelato—that I've featured previously. (The pops are chocolate coated and the gelato has chocolate mixed into it.)

The banana flavor was fresh and authentic and brightened a bit with a touch of lemon; and the chocolate shell was bittersweet and smooth.

*Talenti (part of Unilever) produces gelato and sorbetto, as well as chocolate covered gelato pops. The company name was inspired by Bernardo Buontalenti, who has been credited with inventing gelato.

**The Talenti website lists calories in 1 pop as 210; today's packaging listed the number as 180 calories. Please contact the company if you need an exact number.






Friday, January 15, 2016

NadaMoo - Banana for PB and Chocolate - Jan. 15, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

NadaMoo!
Banana for PB and Chocolate
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/2 cup (71 g.) /1 Pint (473 mL) for 1 container
Calories: 120 calories for 1/2 cup
Cost: $2.00 (estimate) for 1 container
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

Today's Bananas for PB and Chocolate from NadaMoo! (Austin, TX) was a non-dairy, frozen dessert made with organic coconut milk and agave nectar vs. traditional cream/milk and sugar.

The coconut milk helped give today's dessert a nice creamy melt and texture (giving it a richer taste than its 120 calories for 1/2 cup would suggest). Small pieces of real, frozen banana surfaced every few bites in a sea of chocolate. The peanut butter flavor was subtle.

One could easily make a "milkshake" with this NadaMoo dessert, by just adding a fresh banana and a splash of water in a blender.




Thursday, January 14, 2016

Zola - Dark Chocolate Organic Banana Chunks - Jan. 14, 2016


Chocolate of the Day: 

Zola
Dark Chocolate Organic Banana Chunks
Good - Good +
Weight: 1/4 cup (40 g.) / 4 oz. (113 g.) in total package
Calories: 180 calories in 1/3 package
Cost: $3.50 (sale) for 1 package
Purchased from: Safeway, Palo Alto, CA

Aloha tropical fruit fans, and welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

Today's tasty organic, shiny dark chocolate covered banana pieces were created by Zola (San Francisco).

Zola's focus is on "fruits of the world"—e.g., acai berries from Brazil, coconut from Thailand, or bananas from various countries. The company is perhaps best known for their coconut water (original and flavored).

Zola also makes some fruit offerings with chocolate. (And, after all, chocolate starts as the seeds, or beans, inside a fruit.) The dark chocolate today was made from organic and fair trade certified cocoa.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Barnana Organic Chocolate Chewy Banana Bites - Jan. 13, 2016

Chocolate of the Day:

Wholesome Valley Foods
Barnana - Organic Chocolate Chewy Banana Bites
Good
Weight: 6 pieces (40 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total package
Calories: 170 calories in 6 piece serving
Cost: $3.99 for 1 package
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to the first day of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week!

Bananas can be found in the same tropical areas where cacao trees grow. Banana leaves are often layered over cacao pulp and beans during a post-harvest fermentation process—one of the first steps in making chocolate.

So, imagine my surprise yesterday—on a cold January day in the San Francisco Bay Area**—when I saw a large, tell-tale burgandy-red banana bloom hanging over a fence, with a group of greenish bananas ripening above, amongst broad, mostly frost-untarnished green banana leaves.

This sighting provided a great inspiration for chocolate and banana week. Banana plants* may be scarce; but, fortunately, chocolate + banana offerings are easy to find.

Today's 54% cacao Organic Chocolate Chewy Banana Bites were created and distributed by Wholesome Valley Foods (Santa Monica, CA). These potassium-rich and preservative-free, organic, dark, glossy chocolate rounds were filled with rich, concentrated organic banana flavor and soft chewy texture.

I found a small handful of these pieces to be satisfying, flavorful and sweet—without being cloying. These bites were non-GMO certified, gluten free and dairy free.

*Banana plants can grow to more than 20 feet (6 meters) tall, but they are not considered trees. Rather bananas are "leathery berries" that grow on one of the world's largest perennial herbaceous flowering plants. 

**It's sometimes possible to grow bananas in cooler climates, in cities adjacent to large bodies of water (that can help moderate temperatures, and minimize the probability of frost).




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