Tag Archives: chocolate for athletes

K’UL Chocolate Bean-to-Bar

I love innovation. Not for innovation’s sake, but when it truly improves something. K’UL (pronounced cool) Chocolate is definitely innovative. Founder, Peter Kelsey, calls his bars Superfood and I can see why. Chock full of nuts, seeds, anti-oxidants, and supplements each bar is its own little powerhouse of nutrition. It’s food, not candy. Vegan and gluten free.

K’UL Chocolate travels to the cacao farms, selects the beans and imports them. Then they roast, winnow and grind the beans. They make it their mission to improve the lives and environment of the farmers. Luckily, this kind of ethical agenda drives more and more chocolate companies.

The bars are designed by athletes for athletes. If you are into endurance sports or big adventures, K’UL Chocolate has a bar for you. The packaging itself is water proof and pocket sized. This means that even if you are hiking the Amazon and your chocolate melts, you can still neatly squeeze out its soft goodness.

I sampled a few and found them brimming with add-ins. My favorite was the Maca & Fruit bar. Maca is an ancient root that is used for energy, but it does not contain caffeine. (Here’s a link to more information on its benefits: http://draxe.com/top-5-maca-root-benefits-and-nutrition/) The combination of cherries, cranberries, raspberries and pomegranate is divinely chewy, and plays beautifully with the 70% chocolate.

All the chocolate they use is 70%. The pure bar has an earthy profile with a slightly dry finish and undertones of dark fruits, like raisins and plums. While I liked it, I was a bigger fan of the bars with add-ins, and not just for their added nutritional punch, but for their visual appeal. The fruits and nuts are mixed in so you can still see them peeking though the chocolate, quite beautiful.

Saltsensation, with sea salt flakes, was delicious. That little bit of sodium really amped up the chocolate’s flavor giving it a multi-layered, nuanced taste.

Peanuts & Currants was very satisfying, and a perfect choice for a hike or a briefcase.

Endurance, enhanced with Pumpkin seeds, Guarana and cranberries had a marvelous combination of crunchy and chewy textures. Guarana is like caffeine on steroids, so be warned if you are sensitive to its effects. On the other hand, if your body thrives on that extra burst of energy, this bar’s for you.

The folks at K’UL are always creating new combinations, so keep checking out their website for new temptations.

NOTE: They have a special introductory offer on their website where you can buy a variety pack of four bars for $11.99, including shipping.

Salazon Chocolate Company

It seems as if salt is the new vanilla. All cooks know how salt enhances the flavor of almost anything, so why not use it to perk up chocolate? Pete Truby had his salt and chocolate aha! moment a couple of years ago while hiking with friends. He added a bit of chocolate to his trail mix and was immediately enraptured by the salty-sweet combination. Like a true entrepreneur, he started a company called Salazon, Spanish for salt.

But, it wasn’t enough to add salt to chocolate, Pete also experimented with salt and pepper, ground coffee, and salt with sugar crystals. All his 54% bars are made from organic, Rainforest Alliance certified beans in small batches, and hand-sprinkled with natural, solar-evaporated sea salt.

Pete wanted a delicious, exciting chocolate that was also beautiful, so he used a distinctive plastic mold that features workers in a sea salt farm in Asia.

I sampled all four bars currently in production, though I hear there are more innovative ideas percolating in Pete’s cranium. The most surprising was the Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper. Spicy pepper, salt, and chocolate complimented each other perfectly. A 43 gram portion, half a bar, has 18 grams of sugar. Normally, that’s a bit high for a dark chocolate; however, it balances out the pepper’s edge perfectly. I could see this bar being a great addition to my backpack, car, or handbag.

The Sea Salt and Organic Cane Sugar slab has only one more gram of sugar in a portion, but that extra gram makes a big difference. It adds more crunch and another layer of sweetness. While I have been focusing on the sugar, none of these bars tasted overly sweet to me.

Sea Salt and Crushed Organic Coffee was a heady experience. The extra crunch, full, rounded coffee flavor, and dark chocolate all came together in a wonderful medley of flavor, texture, and novelty. A very exciting chocolate experience.

The pure Sea Salt bar is a gentler experience, but that’s probably because I tried the other three first. Frankly, I would recommend tasting all four, since they are truly different from each other.

Pete has created four delicious options. Not only will they sate your chocolate cravings, but if you’re out on a hike they will help maintain your electrolyte balance; and, if you choose the one with coffee, it will put an extra bounce in every step.