Once in a while, an assignment comes along that seems like a dream, and reporting on The Chocolate Therapist was one of them. When the job came in from Colorado Expression magazine, I responded, “Twist my arm.”
Julie Pech’s chocolate shop in Littleton is sweet, and her made-in-house chocolates some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Unusual combinations and pure chocolate – none of that fluffy, cloyingly sweet goo inside.
Julie taught me a lot about chocolate, including the fact that the world’s bulk supply of chocolate comes from Africa: the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
“The plant can only grow ten degrees north or south of the equator. It’s a hot, humid band around the earth,” she said. “Only 33 countries can grow it, and the only place in the US is Hawaii.”
Americans drive the chocolate market, Pech says. “Americans eat an average of 12 pounds of chocolate per year. The Irish eat 22 pounds and the Swiss 24, but there are so many more Americans so we’re consuming more pounds per country.”
But the sweetest ending to this story is that Julie prescribes dark chocolate every day as a health food. Two quick tips: if you’re eating chocolate for nutrition, go for 80 percent cocao content or higher. And if you’re eating chocolate for nutrition, opt for chocolate containing other superfoods such as dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries.
Learn more about why chocolate is a superfood in my article in the new issue of Colorado Expression, now on newsstands, in hotel rooms and professional offices throughout the state.