Whether you are vegan and subscribe to a dairy-free diet by choice or by force from a lack of lactase, the good news is that you don't have to sacrifice chocolate completely; you just need to find an alternative.
Life without dairy is not always easy; in fact at times it can be downright restrictive, expensive, and even frustrating - especially for a chocoholic. Yet the benefits far outweigh the bad and there are some welcome side effects associated with ditching dairy. Many people report considerable weight loss, improved digestion and immune function, and a clearer complexion almost immediately, while I was most pleased to find relief from chronic headaches.
So it is indeed possible to look and feel amazing while still consuming chocolate (in moderation and accompanied with a healthy lifestyle, of course). Admittedly, it did take a while to weed out the wonderful from the woeful, but in doing so I have discovered a whole new world of chocolate. In order to make the transition from "glass and a half" to dairy-free as seamless as possible, here are my top three chocolate choices and where to find them. You're welcome.
It's difficult to choose a favourite from the Pana range
My first and greatest dairy-free discovery was Pana Chocolate at the 2012 Body Mind Spirit Festival at the Adelaide Showground. So deviously decadent is Pana that I returned to the Body Mind Spirit Festival the following year to stock up as discounts are quite often offered at expos.
There are many different flavours and it's difficult to choose a favourite from Fig and Wild Orange, Coconut and Goji, Sour Cherry and Vanilla, Raw Cacao, Eighty, Nuts, Rose, Cinnamon, Orange, and Mint. There was Blue-Green Algae flavour that left a foul taste in my mouth, but thankfully that one seems to be discontinued now.
Pana is reserved for special occasions because it's fudgy and rich, much like a mud cake. One bite is enough to satisfy any chocolate craving, which is lucky because it costs approximately $6.95 for a 45 gram bar. It's not cheap, but worth it for a sweet treat that's Australian made, certified organic, and a member of the Vegan Society. Be sure to keep your Pana in a cool dark place because it uses raw ingredients that melt easily.
For those that prefer a thin firm chocolate, Alter Eco is the way to go. There are eight distinct flavours made with fair trade and organically grown ingredients; however two are not dairy-free. You will unfortunately need to avoid the Dark Velvet and Dark Coconut Toffee as they contain butter fat and whole milk powder.
Luckily there are six irresistible flavours with interesting textures that are all dairy-free. The Dark Almond has slowly roasted nuts, Dark Cacao contains crunchy cocoa nibs, and Dark Blackout is an intense 85% cocoa. I can't resist the refreshing bite of Dark Mint, the crispy Dark Quinoa, and tangy taste of Dark Twist (the twist is pieces of crystallised orange peel, yum).
Noble Choice makes the top three mostly for its affordability, but also because it tastes more like milk chocolate than dark, which makes for a nice change. There is a plain Dark Chocolate, Dark Raspberry, Dark Mint, and Dark Almond. All are so smooth and creamy that you won't believe it's not dairy.
Your wallet, as well as your tastebuds, will rejoice because it costs about $2.95 for an 85 gram block. It's quite readily available in the health food aisle of many Coles supermarkets (like the one at Centro Colonnades in Noarlunga Centre) and health food shops (such as the Natural Food Barn at Southgate Plaza in Morphett Vale). If you're not sure where to buy it, you can send an inquiry from the Eskal Foods website.
Most stores, for some reason, only seem to have the almond flavour, but the Foodland at the Pasadena Green Shopping Centre on Fiveash Drive stocks all four. The Pasadena Foodland has a terrific range of dairy-free chocolate, health foods, and organic alternatives. Not only does it stock Noble Choice, but also Pana, Alter Eco, and many other options to appease a sweet tooth.
An honorary mention goes to Loving Earth for creating fair trade chocolate packed with nutritious, raw, and organic ingredients. It isn't quite as smooth as those previously mentioned, which is perhaps why I like it, but don't love it.
Retailing from $6.95 for a 100 gram block (prices seem to vary considerably), it represents reasonable value and if you're in the mood for something a bit different, it's definitely worth trying. Plus, the Loving Earth website is a very useful resource with an online store, recipes, and interesting articles on topics such as the health benefits of chocolate.
When it comes to allergy- and vegan-friendly eating and shopping in South Australia, we have a few decent options. Many have already been discussed, but there is also Bliss Organic Café on Compton Street in Adelaide, which offers organic vegan meals and grocery items, and Everything Vegan on Wright Street in Adelaide. As the name suggests, the specialty grocery store is the place to go for everything vegan, including an enormous selection of chocolate and confectionery. You can even order and have your groceries and goodies delivered to your door from the Vegan Online website.
I recently tried my first raw chocolate bar; it had an interesting texture, which I liked, and although 100% cacao, wasn't bitter because it had figs, almonds, and coconut blossom syrup in it. at £2.99 for 40g, it was expensive though.
I would have to rate Constant Cravings Chocolates as the best i've ever tasted they're handmade in Tasmania and they sell them in 12 different health stores in Adelaide. I bought some from the Central Markets for $1.25 each but have also bought them from the Health Shop in Gawler and they were charging $1.85 each which is quite dear! Here is their website for their range and stockists:http://www.constantcraving.com.au/ Also Moo-Free Chocolate is really nice it's made with Rice Milk and I have seen this product being sold at Coles and Health Stores around Adelaide prices ranging from $4.50 at Coles to about $6-7 in Health shops.