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Meet Our Sponsors: Pascha Chocolate

pascha chocolate

When people bemoan the fact that they can’t eat gluten, I like to remind them about chocolate. We still have chocolate. Except, it’s not that simple.

The cacao bean is gluten-free, of course. However, some good chocolates might be cross-contaminated with gluten from other sources in the factory. (I’m still mourning the fact that the Valrhona website suggests that people for whom gluten is a health issue not eat their chocolate.) I have to check the label of every chocolate bar to ensure I won’t grow sick with one bite of that dark luscious stuff.

And of course, many of us who are gluten-free also have other food intolerances or allergies. I can’t imagine how hard it must feel to be allergic to soy and want some chocolate. So many chocolates contain soy lecithin. And frankly, almost all the “allergy-free” chocolates I have tasted have been lifeless versions of their intended ideal.

This is why we love PASCHA chocolate. We’d like to introduce you to our latest sponsor.

PASCHA makes truly good chocolate, dark and sensuous, full of cacao bean flavor, ranging from 55% to 80% dark chocolate. This chocolate is organic, fair-trade, and contains no GMO products. Best yet, it is free from gluten, nuts, dairy, soy, and even potential allergens such as fish and eggs. It’s produced in an entirely allergen-free facility. And you have to love a chocolate company that has a clearly expressed chocolate philosophy.

We are big fans of PASCHA chocolate.

We’d like to let you hear more from PASCHA Founder, Simon Lester.

Why chocolate?

I started my working life in the chocolate business in the UK. Chocolate has always been a passion of mine. I wanted to created PASCHA to offer ultra-pure delicious chocolate that is safe for anyone to eat. I was also intrigued by the health aspects which dark chocolate offers (very high antioxidants) with many reported benefits (blood pressure, positive moods, etc) which people are looking for. I felt chocolate should be made without unnecessary ingredients like soy lecithin. I wanted people with allergies or without to enjoy a pure, terrific piece of ORGANIC, NON-GMO chocolate.

Why have you taken the care to make these chocolates allergy free?

I realized how life threatening and altering food allergies can be when one of my daughters had an anaphylactic reaction to food. Then the penny dropped that someone really needed to come out with a completely allergen-free, great-tasting organic chocolate. While most people don’t think of chocolate and allergies, the reality is that almost every chocolate plant in the western world uses milk, various tree nuts, peanuts, soy and often wheat, gluten and egg. Because of the difficulties of cleaning a chocolate manufacturing plant once these ingredients are inside the plant, a residual amount is left behind — which is the danger point for people with food allergies.

Did you have to sacrifice anything to make the chocolates allergy free?

Absolutely not! The more impurity you take out of chocolate the purer it becomes and the more you just taste the cocoa bean. That’s what makes fantastic chocolate.

Can you tell us a story of a customer who was excited to find your chocolates?

Talking with our passionate customers is amazing. At a gluten-free show in Chicago, a woman came up to me and said that she had not eaten chocolate for 3 years because of food allergies. There was literally nothing on the market that she could eat. She just thanked me for creating PASCHA. Everyday, people email us their list of food allergies, fearful that they will not be able to eat our bars. It is a great feeling to email them back — PASCHA is safe and please enjoy it!

Do you have a recipe you love using these chocolates?

Chocolate Chunk Rhubarb Cookies

These soft cookies serve up a delicious pairing of sweet and tart can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. You can adjust the level of tartness by adding/removing some of the rhubarb. The cookies are most delicious when eaten within 2 days; but don’t worry they will be gone long before that!

Yields: 36 teaspoon size cookies

1/2 cup organic palm oil shortening
1/4 cup granulated organic sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (must include xanthan gum)
1 bar of Pascha’s 55% cacao, roughly chopped
1 cup of chopped organic rhubarb

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using an electric mixer, whip the shortening, sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and applesauce.
3. Next, mix in your gluten free flour. Blend on low until mixed throughly.
4. In a small saucepan over very low heat, slowly melt 1⁄2 of the Pascha chocolate. When fully
melted add chocolate to the mixer. Blend.
5. Gently, by hand, fold in remaining chocolate chunks and rhubarb.
6. Using a teaspoon, scoop dough balls onto a lightly oiled baking sheet or baking mat.
7. Bake for 12 minutes or until toothpick can be inserted into the center of a cookie and it comes
out clean.
8. Let cookies rest 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving.
9. Enjoy!

This recipe has a lot of flexibility. You can chop the rhubarb finely so that its not as chewy or to make it more discrete looking when your kids grab a cookie. You can also do the same for the chocolate, if you prefer a less chunky cookie. You can shape the cookies round or flat.

PASCHA chocolate is offering chocolate to three lucky readers of our site. Please leave a comment about why you would like to try PASCHA chocolate.

meet our sponsor: Applegate

applegate meat

 

Danny and I are both pretty particular about the meat we eat. After being a vegetarian for more than 10 years, I decided to listen to my own body and eat meat again. However, I vowed to eat meat that was created from animals raised consciously, preferably from animals I know. After cooking in some restaurants where meat was chosen by the cheapest price and not for its grass-fed origins or high quality, Danny now wants to eat meat that tastes as good as it can. Right now, most of our meat comes from the pig raised by our landlord on his farm, which Danny butchered himself. Our freezer is full of different cuts of pork and most of the fat we use for cooking comes from the lard Danny rendered himself.

But when we have a kid who likes sandwiches, and we are on the road often, we like having packaged luncheon meats, prosciutto, and hot dogs on hand that we know we can trust and we like to eat. This is why we’d like to introduce Applegate as our latest sponsor.

We’ve had Applegate in our home for years. Their grass-fed, organic beef hot dogs are the only ones we buy for our daughter. Their bacon graces our table when we have run out of our own smoked belly. And their Italian cured meats, such as prosciutto and coppa, are always available at our grocery store. We’re so lucky that such good meat is widely available.

Many of Applegate’s products, including their sausages and deli meats, are organic.  Most of their products are free from any genetically modified ingredients, and they have vowed to find non-GMO sources for the few remaining ingredients they use that are genetically modified by the end of 2013. And Applegate is gluten-free. We trust them. I have always felt healthy after eating Applegate foods.

This is why we’d like to recommend Applegate to you.

And we’d like to let Chris Ely, co-founder of Applegate, tell you more about his company and the work they do.

 

What compels Applegate to make the food it does, the way it does? 

We’re committed to “Changing the Meat We Eat” by raising animals humanely, without any antibiotics, growth hormones or any other drugs. It’s important to us to provide the best treatment and environment for animals because that ultimately impacts the farmers, the planet and the people who eat our products.  We have always strived to produce healthier meat products — from how the animal is raised to how the meat is prepared.  Doing things right from the start allows us to avoid artificial flavors, preservatives or fillers and rely on the natural flavors of the meat, along with fresh herbs and spices. Furthermore, this means that our products tend to be lower in fat, salt and sugar than their conventional counterparts.

Why did Applegate work to make sure these foods are gluten-free?

Meat is naturally gluten free… And since all of our deli products have never contained any binders or fillers, we are able to avoid adding the gluten that can be found in other brands. Given that most of our meats are already free of allergens, becoming a go-to source for gluten free foods was a natural progression for us. For instance, we made sure that gluten free alternatives were developed alongside our other breaded items, such as our chicken nuggets, so people have a choice. We make sure all of our plants that produce gluten free products have a program in place to prevent cross contamination.

Can you tell us about your sources for ingredients? 

We work with a network of more than 1,000 family farms across America to source our meat. We have a team of staff that works with the farms to ensure all the animals are being raised to our standards. For our gluten free sourcing, we work closely with companies that specialize in ingredients that are gluten free.

 

Besides being gluten-free, your food is GMO free and organic. Why is that?

We’re proud to make GMO-free products because the organic agriculture system provides many benefits to animals and the environment. Our Organic line is completely GMO-free, and most of the items in our Natural line are free of GMO ingredients. We recently committed to removing all the GMO ingredients from the remaining 3 products by early next year.

For more information on Applegate’s position on GMOs, check out our FAQ page here.

 

Can you tell us some stories about what your customers say about your food? 

We get hundreds of wonderful notes from customers and fans each month. Here is a particularly heart-warming one from a mother looking for gluten free foods (edited slightly for privacy).

 

“I wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you for what you do! Your products have made a huge difference in both mine and my son’s life.

My son was diagnosed at birth with Down ’s syndrome. After years of seeing different doctors and almost losing him to illness several times, he was finally diagnosed as gluten intolerant.

It has been difficult, following a gluten-free diet to get enough calories into him so he could build his resistance to infection, but then I recently discovered your products! You have been a literal godsend, providing a variety in diet I’d never been able to give him before.  He loves all of your gluten-free products and they make it so much easier for me to prepare his meals!

Thank you so much for all that you do!”

Hearing stories like this, and knowing we provide a much-needed meal solution for families across the country makes us proud of what we do each day.

 

 Applegate is giving away an ultimate lunch kit away to three readers of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Each kit includes beef and pork bologna (we love this one), turkey breast, slow-cooked ham, genoa salami, provolone cheese, cheddar cheese, and Sunday bacon. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here about why you are interested in Applegate products. Three winners will be chosen at random on Friday, November 22nd