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Chocolate

Why You Should Not Ever, Never Eat Conventional Chocolate

Can you imagine my horror when I heard that chocolate is the food most highly sprayed with noxious agro-chemicals? Yuk!  You’re kidding, right? I’m a woman.  I love chocolate.  I didn’t always because when I was younger with boundless energy, I didn’t really need it.  But twenty years and three kids later, I LOVE the stuff.

Well, it turns out that this wonderful mouthful is not as innocent as it seems.  You see, the cacao tree likes shade.  But it is harder to manage and harvest a plant that is growing under a rainforest canopy, so conventional chocolate plantations are in the sun.  As well as ruining the forest (which you may not care about), this makes the plant more vulnerable to pests and diseases, and therefore increases the need for chemicals (which you should care about).

These chemicals harm the workers, their unborn children, their environment – and remain in the finished chocolate product that you eat.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, conventional chocolate can also contain nasties like vegetable fat, artificial flavours and high fructose corn syrup.

Chocolate is a good thing; a thing of beauty.  Not only is it delicious, but it also is a strong antioxidant.  Chocolate has phenols that support the immune system, reduce your risk of cancer and help your heart.  It also makes you feel good.  (No, it’s not just you, it’s everyone.)  Chocolate stimulates serotonin and endorphins in the brain for that feeling of joy.  And it has a substance that calms you, making your troubles seem smaller and the world brighter.

Organic chocolate farming does not allow the use of synthetic, toxic chemicals.  Grown in shade, these are better beans.  Ingredients added to organic chocolate – everything from almonds to ginger to coffee – are also organic.  And organic chocolate bars and truffles tend to have less sugar when compared with bigger brands.  So the organic mouthful is as wonderful as it seems.

So, I know you love your favourite brands, but do, please, think about switching to organic chocolate.  It’s better – for so many reasons.  With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s an exciting time to think about changing your shopping habits.  If you really want to woo your sweetheart, buy a box of organic chocolates from www.planetorganic.com, and make the tarts and cookies below.  Your love will be yours forever.  (It worked on mine.)

Organic Chocolate Pastry Cherry Tarts

I have made these as individual pies because they look so sweet.  If this treat is just for you and someone gorgeous, you might want to share one tart romantically between you, with a dollop of crème fraiche on it (that you can also do other things with), so that you still feel svelte afterwards.  If you’re like me and the evening is shared with your husband and three young kids, make many little tarts and gorge on one each.  The kids can shape the pastry into the tins, spoon in the cherry mixture and shape heart cookies by hand for fun.

Made with wholemeal pastry and organic chocolate (well, I only ever use all organic ingredients), these are actually pretty good for you, but you don’t have to tell your loved one (or your kids) that.  Just bake and enjoy!

Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Baking Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 6 tarts and 12 cookies

 

For the pastry:

240g/4¼oz/2 cups wholemeal spelt/wheat flour

3 tbsp organic cocoa powder

½ tsp fine sea salt

60ml/2fl oz/¼ cup sunflower oil

70g/2½oz/ 1/3 cup granulated sugar

3-5 tbsp water

 

For the filling:

450g/1lb pitted cherries, frozen or tinned, chopped

1 tbsp corn flour

2 tsp lemon juice

 

crème fraiche (optional), to serve

 

1 Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.  Put the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl, and mix well.  Add the sunflower oil and rub between your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Add the sugar and mix well.  Add water, a tablespoon at a time, and toss with a fork until the mixture just holds together when you gather it in your hands.

 

2 In a small bowl, put the cherries, corn flour and lemon juice, and mix well.  Cup your hand and put 40g/1½ oz of pastry into the centre.  Shape the pastry roughly into the shape of an 8cm/3¼in tart tin.  Press the partially-formed pastry into the tin so that it coats the bottom and sides evenly, then spoon 3 tablespoons of the cherry mixture into each until level with the top.  Repeat for the other 5 tins.  Take any remaining pastry by the tablespoonful and shape into hearts.

3 Place the tarts and cookies on a baking sheet and bake together, removing the cookies after 10 minutes and the tarts after 20 when the pastry is very lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Eat well; live better.

 

Renée Elliott

Founder, Planet Organic

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