Addictive Wellness Chocolate
Recently, I decided to do a 10-day sugar cleanse with the wonderful nutrition consultant and yoga instructor, Ashley Neese. I felt like I had to have sweets very often (after every meal) and would have no problem dousing my desserts with maple syrup or raw honey. I felt like a slave to the sugar and I knew my body was begging me for a break.
My goals on this sugar cleanse were to temporarily give up raw honey, maple syrup and large servings of fruit. I did this successfully and about halfway through the cleanse I felt like I could manage to have a small sugar free desert. I chose to indulge in one of the Addictive Wellness chocolates. These small delights are sweetened with my favorite brand of stevia and birch xylitol and contain some of the most well-known Chinese and Ayurvedic Tonic Herbs. I only had a tiny piece of their hierloom chocolate to send my tastebuds into cacao heaven.
Taking a break from sugar felt amazing but it was very nice to have a desert option out there that did not cause a big spike in my blood sugar. Whether you are trying to decrease your sugar intake or not, the truffles deserve your attention.
Q&A with Sage and AnnaBlanca, the duo behind Addictive Wellness Chocolate
PLUS we made Sage's delicious superfood turmeric chia seed pudding (recipe below).
Q: What inspired you to create addictive wellness chocolate?
Sage: The short answer is- fun inspired me! Chocolate always leads to lots of fun and I wanted to be a part of creating that. The longer answer is that I first learned to make chocolate when I was 19 years old in the jungles of Costa Rica. At the same time, I was really getting deep into nutrition, raw foods, superfoods, and traditional herbal systems of indigenous cultures. As I traveled and studied, my knowledge in all of these areas grew deeper and my chocolate skills improved as well. When AnnaBlanca and I started dating, I had already been on a super-low sugar diet for quite a few years, but the chocolate I was making still wasn’t sugar free. Anyone who has eaten or tried to make sugar free chocolate will tell you that it isn’t at all easy to make taste good… The way AnnaBlanca interacts with reality is such that when she wants something, there are no limitations on what is possible. This approach inspired me to persevere, open my mind to all possibilities, and bring the chocolate to where it is today.
AnnaBlanca: Sage is an authentic chocolatier and has been making chocolates since way before we met. In fact, once we started dating and my girlfriends asked me who is the adorable hunk by my side, I was trying to describe him and it went something like this: “he is a surfer, ashtanga yogi, businessman, tonic herbalist, kundalini practicing CHOCOLATIER!” All that he is went into creating this chocolate and that’s what makes it so magical.
Q: What makes your chocolate different than other chocolate out there?
Sage: We’ve really gone to every length imaginable to make this the best chocolate in every way possible. Its made with incredibly high quality raw heirloom cacao- this is actually something you can smell even before you take a bite of the chocolate. One whiff of the aroma is just intoxicating. Then we add serious amounts of really potent and pure extracts of Taoist and Ayurvedic herbs. Each chocolate has a specific set of herbs. The three in the line currently are Energy, Beauty, and Tranquility. And then of course, they’re sugar-free. Chocolate can be amazing for you, but with most chocolates that use some form of natural sugar (coconut palm sugar, agave, cane sugar, maple sugar, etc.), you can only eat a small amount before it becomes way too much sugar! We wanted to remove that ceiling so people can have more chocolate and more fun!
AnnaBlanca: I get such a kick out of doing in-store demos. Sage cracks up claiming I get high from the interactions…. I love meeting our customers, chatting, and answering questions! We have a sign that shows we are “raw, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, gmo-free, soy-free, nut-free” and of course some people would laugh and ask “hey, is it taste-free as well?!” And then they try the little samples… I can’t tell you how much fun it is to see the smile spreading on someone’s face when he or she says “oooooh this is amazing!”
Q: What's it like being an entrepreneur?
AnnaBlanca: It’s interesting that you asked this question. Recently Sage and I decided to start expanding the subjects of our blog posts. Instead of only focusing on the chocolate and the healthy living aspect of our lives we will also write about our experiences building our company from a spark of an idea into where it is today and where it may takes us in the future. There is so much we can share with others who are embarking on the journey to follow their dreams and could trip over their own feet on this entrepreneurial path. Heck we did, many times. And we wear the scars as a badge of honor! When others helped us by sharing their wisdom we just couldn’t listen and learn enough. We would like to go the extra mile and tell about the battle stories of our entrepreneurship.
Yes, it is hard work and a far cry from having a 9-5 job, but if you are passionate about what you are doing, if you believe that you are creating something that will make others lives better and if you are not afraid of putting your whole self into it, then there is no chance of failure. We also love that within our Vortex (which is an ever growing network of healthy living experts/ educators/ bloggers/ entrepreneurs/ conscious moms & dads, etc.) we all support one another and even give a boost on social media. Everyone benefits when the awareness grows about how much potential we all have for a joyful & thriving life.
Q: Tell us about your logo and how you selected the name of your company?
AnnaBlanca: That was one of the few things that came to us through a divine intervention. We were on the verge of hiring someone to help us out since we were running in circles with our ideas and sadly not one of them was original enough to ask it politely to stick around. Then we had the serendipitous encounter with a dear friend of ours, Trek Thunder Kelly in a back alley in Venice Beach. (check him out on Instagram and thank me later ;-) His out-of-the-box creative thinking came to the rescue. He said “You guys are making healthy, pure chocolate, so how about packaging it in white and I can even see a unicorn as your logo!” And the rest is history.
Unicorns are the symbol of longevity, protection, beauty, immortality… and also in medieval times their horn, called the Alicorn, was said to detect poison and turn it into a healing elixir. Exactly what our mission is at Addictive Wellness: we take traditional treats that are made out of ingredients which are (to put it mildly) not ideal and make them not only health neutral but highly and potently beneficial for you.
Also, the name of our company, Addictive Wellness is not as controversial as it may sound at first: “addictive” comes from the Latin word “addictionem” which means “devoting, to be devoted”. So we are devoted to wellness!
Q: What is the best health advice you ever received?
Sage: Some of the best health advice I ever received was actually very specific to me personally because it was based on my genetics. I think getting ones genetics tested by a reputable lab and going through it with an experienced practitioner is one of the best strategic moves one can make on the journey to ultimate health. It really allows you to completely understand your blueprint and how to customize your lifestyle, supplementation, and diet to make the absolute most out of what you’ve been given by nature. You’re given a certain set of genetics, but the amazing science of epigenetics has taught us that you are not the victim of your genetic inheritance. Your decisions about your lifestyle and diet change the expression of these genetics. You are in the driver’s seat controlling your own destiny!
AnnaBlanca: Hard to choose. I would say getting rid of my root canals tops the list. Not drinking sodas or eating fast foods is a no brainer, would never touch that stuff, but root canals being the root of most evil?! Now that was news to me at the time when I first learned about it! I have been researching alternatives to this serious health challenge for years and I am in the process of dealing with it once and for all. Technology is finally catching up enough so I can proceed with the best solution. Not just my immune system, but my entire body will thank me when I am done. I am planning to write a blog post about it soon.
Q: What are your top three foods you consume regularly?
Sage: I think my top three would be spirulina, CBD oil, and astragalus. Chocolate is definitely a big player too, but I think we’ve already satisfied the cacao gods with all the attention we gave them in the first part of the interview! (laughs)
Spirulina is packed full of nutrition and is the highest natural source of protein, but what many people don’t know is that the blue pigment in spirulina, phycocianin, actually improves stem cell production in your bone marrow- if vitality and longevity are your goals, that is huge! I’m also kind of a freak in that I love the flavor of spirulina. I won’t hesitate to put two tablespoons of it on my salad.
CBD oil is essentially a concentrated form of hemp oil with high levels of one particular cannabinoid called cannabidiol. It isn’t overtly psychoactive and its quickly gaining wide recognition for its neuroprotective effects. I personally have found that it gave me an incredible improvement in sleep quality and my experience has been that when your sleep improves, your whole life improves.
Astragalus is famous as one of the greatest qi tonics in Taoist herbalism. Its an incredible dual-directional adaptogenic herb that can be taken every single day. Unlike many other herbs, it has such a gentle flavor too, so its easy to combine into delicious concoctions and an easy first herb for people who might shy away from herbs with deeper bitter flavors. There’s so much I’d love to say about it, but because we use it in our Energy chocolate, I’m legally limited as to what I can say. Its a crazy world we live in, but I can’t say anything that could be misconstrued as a “health claim” about one of our products… but just know that astragalus is in my top 3 for several major reasons!
AnnaBlanca: My top three regular foods… Hmmmm… My morning hot tonic mix keeps changing/ improving but it is unfailingly topped by coconut whipped cream (thank you LongevityWarehouse for inventing it!!) My favorite childhood treat that I believed I can never have again is now a dairy-free, sugar-free, fat-burning staple of my diet. A dream come true! Sage surprised me with this a couple of Valentine’s ago.
The second is probably shatavari. I take it every single day. A girl can use all the help she can get when it comes to hormone health and it is the foremost Ayurvedic herb for regulating female hormones. Shatavari literally means “she who possesses a 100 husbands” - uhm, I have no intention to collect husbands but you get the picture…
The last pick in this line up has to be cultured vegetables. Understandably the smell could be super unpleasant if you are not used to it yet, but I grew up making them with my mom and grandma in Hungary (we call it “csalamádé”) and the minute I get a whiff of an open jar my entire system goes into happy puppy mode. If my body was a dog it would be wagging it’s tail in anticipation of a treat. And cultured vegetables are precisely that: a treat! Your gut is your friend so show it how much you care and feed it with the “good guys” by giving it an enormous amount of this beneficial bacteria.
Q: How did you two meet and what's it like to work with the one you love?
Sage: We met at the legendary Erewhon Tonic Bar in Hollywood in October 2011 but we were just friends for 9 months before things got really interesting. (laughs) They say “those apples drop when they’re ripe…” I guess we had some ripening to do! Working together is totally epic. Clear communication without letting egos get in the way is totally key to making it a success. We actually work at the same desk, which is epic because I can give her a kiss anytime I want! Even if she’s really focused I can still just give her a kiss on the shoulder. Having oxytocin flowing all day is really a pretty special feeling.
AnnaBlanca: It is an extraordinary experience. I never thought that it is possible to have your best friend, lover and business partner all in one person! It is surreal how well we work together. Our skills sets, experiences and strengths are like puzzle pieces and fit perfectly to create the whole picture of our life together and not just our business. We have our own tasks yet can turn to the other for feedback or help and when we need to do something together we always have the best results. Not to mention I simply love that we yet to face a challenge that Sage cannot figure out. He has an almost frighteningly well functioning brain. It is just so sexy! (blushes)
Having one massive desk works for us as well. We came up with a “pass-phrase” that means “right now i am focusing so let me do that please” - and that allows us to have an ever better flow. Sometimes when I work so intently that haven’t even gotten up to get water Sage would start caressing and kissing my arms and neck and when I murmur back with a “mmmm you are so not helping here mister” he would reply “But of course I am! I am boosting your oxytocin and balancing your hormones!” - well, no woman can argue with that…
Q: What makes you feel most alive?
Sage: There’s so many things! I think its important to find as many things as possible that make you feel really alive and structure your life around doing these things as much as possible. Some of the biggest ones for me are surfing, ashtanga yoga, love, infrared saunas, chanting sanskrit mantras, creating new exotic healthy concoctions, being in nature, especially if its a really lush forest, learning new information or skills that I can immediately put to use, and jumping in really cold water!
AnnaBlanca: I love Sage’s list! Wow of course he has it all figured out and that is one of the many things I love about him the most: that he is as wise as if he already has 500 years worth of experience under his belt..
But back to your question Alexa. I love dancing, it makes me more alive than anything. There is always music in my head and I would dance even if nobody can hear it and no matter where I am at. I feel alive when Sage and I laugh our butts off and that happens more often than you would imagine. I am super alive when I am being with those I love: my family, Sage, Sage’s family and close friends. I feel alive when I am progressing with my dreams and reaching my goals. This may sound a bit lame but you are creating something out of nothing just with the power of your mind and will and imagination, that is one of the most invigorating experiences. And I feel alive when I am surprising or helping those I care deeply about and do little things that make them smile. I always believed that caring is loving and loving is caring.
And of course being in nature with Sage is on the top of this list. We connect, breath and just inhale the energy of the mountains, the trees, the springs - and the occasional smell of cow dung, given one of our favorite spots to go for a hike with Sage’s parents is in Ojai, near a farm.... But the jumping into ice cold water part I will leave to Sage. I hold his towel but you wont catch me dead doing it. (laughs)
Q: I know you are doing a detoxification of heavy metals. Could you tell us a little bit about what you're doing, why its important and if it works. Why is it important to detox and do you do it regularly?
Sage: Over the past 6 months we’ve been doing repeated rounds of DMSA chelation therapy. Each round is 11 days, beginning with 5 days of “mobilization” where you take specific supplements to release the heavy metals from where your body is storing them. Then you have 1 day where you take the DMSA, which binds to the metals and allows you to pee them out. Finally you have 5 days of “recovery” where you take things like liposomal glutathione and N-Acetyl-Cystine to complete the detox process and take lots of minerals to make sure you’re not depleting yourself of your good mineral stores.
And to answer the question “Does it work?” Yes! To date AnnaBlanca has done 14 rounds of DMSA and I’ve done 6 (my metal levels were lower to begin with) and we just got back our latest test results today and both of us have much lower levels of metals compared to when we began.
Q: What is your biggest dream for addictive wellness chocolate?
Sage: The vision is really multi-faceted. We want people to realize that embarking on a journey to optimal health doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite treats- you just have to get smarter and more clever about how you consume them. Chocolate is an amazing starting point for us, but there’s much more yet to come! We want to have as much of an impact as possible helping people to live happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives while also helping to support people and organizations doing meaningful work to save the only known planet with chocolate. And then we want to celebrate this amazing life with some big chocolate parties!
AnnaBlanca: I cannot think of anything to add to what Sage said above. Our dreams and plans are perfectly aligned…. (smiles)
Turmeric Chai Chia Pudding Recipe
In a cup, mix:
1 cup of water or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
4 tablespoons chia seeds
Stir well and make sure that the chia doesn’t clump. Let sit for 2-3 minutes until it forms a thick gelatinous texture and then pour into the blender. Secret trick- instead of stirring them by hand, put them both in your VitaMix and run it on the lowest speed setting for 60 seconds.
Into the blender add:
1 tablespoon lucuma
1 tablespoon mesquite
½ teaspoon turmeric extract powder
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
½ teaspoon chai spice powder blend
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon Ancient Organics ghee
20 drops Omica Sweet Blossom stevia (If you like your treats really sweet, go for 25 drops, if you like your treats not very sweet, go for 15 drops.)
For a cold pudding, add 2 ice cubes and blend on high for about 30 seconds until smooth.
For a warm pudding, blend on high for about 90 seconds until warm. But be careful not to let it get too hot or you risk losing some of the benefit of the Omega-3s from the chia and hemp.
It’s really thick, so you will most likely need to use a plunger/tamper to keep it going.
Top with shavings of Addictive Wellness Tranquility Chocolate and a bit more turmeric extract powder for good measure! :)