RD Exam & Taza Chocolate

I cannot believe July is almost over. At least it was a fabulous month full of touring Boston with international friends, being outside as much as possible, outdoor yoga classes, and most exciting:

PASSING MY RD EXAM!

Yesterday, I passed my Registered Dietitian exam! It was incredibly nerve-wracking in the last few questions and while waiting to see the results, but it’s a huge relief now. I’m pretty happy to add “RDN” (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) to my name now.

Earlier this month before leaving Boston, I visited the Taza chocolate factory in Somerville, Mass. I loved their philosophy and chocolate, and I highly recommend checking out their factory or buying a disc of their chocolate some time. For only $5, you can tour the factory and sample lots of their delicious chocolate and cacao nibs (or cacao nibs dipped in chocolate).

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It can be intimidating and confusing reading food labels. Not only do you have the nutrition label and health claims, but you have all the symbols and labels claiming their food is organic, fair trade, environmentally friendly, and more. It can be really hard to find a food that is tasty, real food, nutritionally sound, AND socially and ethically produced.

Taza Chocolate does a fantastic job from all perspectives.

Most importantly, their chocolate is outstanding and meets my high standards for delicious chocolate.

They make Mexican-style chocolate, which is actually stone ground with vintage machines. Their Mexicana chocolate discs are all dark chocolate with a gritty texture. They come in delicious flavors – my favorites being cinnamon, chipotle chili, ginger, and vanilla.

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When it comes to chocolate, high-quality and bold flavors make all the difference. As a self-proclaimed chocolate lover, I look for a chocolate that makes my taste buds explode with flavor and satisfies me with a few bites. Mindfully eating a bite or two of this chocolate’s unique texture, prominent flavors, and delicious chocolate was all I needed to feel satisfied. One bite was also all I needed to convince me to purchase a ginger disc. I really wanted the complete disc combination set, but my intern budget unfortunately doesn’t allow for lots of chocolate expenses – yet another reason to mindfully eat (save money!).

They are one of the few bean to bar chocolate companies in the country, which means they are involved with every step of the process. Instead of purchasing cocoa butter and making chocolate from there, they purchase cocoa beans directly from farmers. They visit the farms in the Dominican Republic, Belize, and Bolivia yearly to build relationships and choose farms that have fair and humane work practices. The farms are organic and use sustainable agricultural practices. Read more about their Direct Trade model here.

Along with sustainable growing practices, they practice environmentally friendly methods in their factory by using recycled materials and offering bike delivery.

Their tour really showcased the bean-to-bar concept by showing us the entire process, starting with the cacao pod. The pods are shelled, fermented and dried, and then shipped to the factory. At the factory, they are roasted, broken down to the cacao nib (edible as well), and ground into cocoa liquor. It is then mixed with sugar, tempered, and placed into molds. It was pretty cool seeing the whole process and the amount of work it takes to make a bar – made me appreciate chocolate even more!

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Ground up chocolate

Unlike other chocolate bars that have ingredients like “soy lecithin,” “artificial flavors,” and dairy products added, Taza’s chocolate is minimally processed. The chocolate is made with 100% Certified Organic ingredients – only cacoa beans, sugar, and a flavor (cinnamon, ginger, chili, etc.). People with food allergies and intolerances can trust this allergen-friendly chocolate. It’s dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free, which also makes it vegan. I’ve written about the health benefits of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate here, and the Taza website writes about health benefits and the nutrition facts of their products here.

If you’re interested in Taza chocolate, check out their website for locations to find their products. Their site also has tons of interesting information about the chocolate process, recipes, and really cool guides on pair chocolate with cheese or wine (just mixing all my favorite foods together!). All of their chocolate was tasty, but my favorites were the ginger and vanilla discs and the 80% stone ground chocolate bar. If I were you, I would just sample them all and go for the sampler pack of all their Mexicano discs.

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Just so you know, I wasn’t paid or given chocolate to write a review. I was so impressed with all of their practices – sustainability, nutrition, and ethics – that I just had to share what I learned. I am also always on the look-out for amazing chocolate, and Taza goes above and beyond.

What’s your favorite type of chocolate?

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