Thank you all so much for your sweet words yesterday–and for the huge, excited response to my tofu burgers! I was really touched, especially since I woke up today feeling rather ashamed of my one woman pity party. So my internet’s down. So what? I have a job (which gives me a computer, from which I can blog and send email), I have my friends, I have my health, and, most of all, in exactly three days I will be in San Francisco, hanging out with my favorite person on the planet (Chloe). No more complaining!
Speaking of reasons not to complain, I got a pretty amazing care package a few weeks ago:
I. Was. In. Heaven.
Don’t know Gnosis yet? Fix that, now. Gnosis is my favorite brand of raw vegan chocolate and other goodies. I heart the company not only because it makes delicious food–the Gnosis “simplicity” bar is probably the best raw chocolate I’ve ever had–but also because it’s eco-conscious, good to its employees, and because Vanessa is a hugely supportive member of NYC’s raw “tribe”–a loose conglomeration of raw foodists and raw food lovers here in NYC. I met Vanessa over two years ago, at which point Gnosis was a fully operational company, but still very much a chocolate company. Today, the brand has grown and expanded into so much more. Not only is it widening its product horizons (Gnosis also makes a slammin’ raw trail mix, beautiful raw soaps, and it sells various superfoods and supplements), but Vanessa is also growing into her role as Gnosis founder with grace and style.
Take this example: this year, as we know, there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding agave nectar. Since Gnosis uses agave in certain products, Vanessa took it upon herself to explore the issue in depth. She did this not by reading a few articles online, but rather by visiting an agave manufacturing site herself, and writing a thoughtful report of her travels. I couldn’t have been more impressed with Vanessa’s honesty and commitment to upholding the integrity of her brand. I’m also wowed by her efforts with the Raw Integrity Project, a forum where Vanessa shares her experiences and findings in pursuing integrity and transparency in the raw food and chocolate business. To guarantee that the ingredients Gnosis uses are Raw, Vegan, Organic, and of the highest quality, she regularly returns to her suppliers with increasingly in-depth questions, and she puts her hands in every stage of production at the farms and factories she visits to ensure nutritional integrity in Gnosis foods.
Me? I’m not a stickler about “how raw” my foodstuffs are. That is, I’m not bothered by the possibility of nuts or rice or other foods that have been heated unbeknownst to me, because I don’t believe that heating food about 115 degrees destroys or lessens all of its nutritional value. But I respect that other raw foods lovers do feel that way. As a business owner, it’s Vanessa’s job to be honest with those customers. I really applaud her for traveling around the world to be certain of how her ingredients are being sourced, and for being such a “hands on” food maker in the first place.
Putting all of this admiration aside, of course, I’m just a big ‘ole fan of Gnosis food. So when Vanessa’s gift arrived, I was over the moon (perhaps some of you saw my embarrassingly happy tweets?). Vanessa sent me four flavors to try. The first was Superchoc, which I’ve tried before. It’s Vanessa’s “signature” bar in many ways: a raw chocolate bar infused with “superfoods” like goji berries and mesquite”
The second was her immune boost bar, which contains pumpkin seeds, cacao, currants, and cranberries. I loved this one!
The third was her “power choc,” which is chock full of hemp seeds and Sproutein powder for a major protein boost–great for those with higher protein needs:
I really enjoyed this one, too! It felt more like a workout snack than a dessert.
And the final gift was Vanessa’s perfect simplicity bar, which I haven’t got a photo of. Why? Because it didn’t last long in my house! Here’s what it looks like:
And here’s how it tastes: perfect. This is most definitely my fave Gnosis flavor. I love that Vanessa creates such innovative flavor varieties, but I’m a true food purist, and I almost always like what’s most simple. I take my dark chocolate straight up.
Thanks to Vanessa, I have tons of chocolate still in my fridge, and I can’t wait to savor it in the coming weeks! I’ve also got a bar of cinnamon soap that I haven’t used yet, but it smells so good I have to stop myself from chewing on it:
AND a sample of her ridiculously delicious PowerChoc trail mix, which is the best raw trail mix I’ve ever had, and do you know why? Because it’s full of chunks of dark chocolate, that’s why. I am obsessed. I bring it to the office in little snack baggies:
Vanessa also happens to be a consummate event planner. Every few months, she throws “chocolate parties” that feature not only cool music and cool people, but also feature amazing raw food and heaps of her raw chocolate products. They are seriously fun, and if you’re interested in attending the next one, check out the details here. To recap them for you, it’ll be raw food, raw friends, and raw chocolate on a giant boat. Sounds like a serious party to me. I won’t be able to join, but I’m hoping any New Yorkers who do go will give me a full recap!
Thanks, Vanessa, for being such a confectionery genius, and such a vibrant and enthusiastic part of the raw community. I hope to hear more about your adventures as a chocolate maker and small business owner in the future!
Before I go, I have three announcements. The first is that my pal ZestyCook is kicking off a month of recipes that are student friendly, which is to say tasty, affordable, and healthy. I think this is a really noble effort, and we should all check in with his site often in honor of the students in our lives!
The second is that, starting today, all of the proceeds from Mara’s blog for the month of September will be donated to the A to Z Literacy Project. A to Z is a charity spearheaded by a coworker that sends thousands of books annually to needy children in Zambia, and entirely worthy of our support as bloggers. I don’t think any of you need reasons to read Mara’s blog–her tasty food and passionate, witty writing are reason enough–but this little initiative gives you extra motivation. Please support Mara’s efforts!
Final announcement? My dilly sunflower cheese makes for some awesome work lunch leftovers.
Anyone try it yet??
Phew. OK. It’s time for me to power through some work, because I have to be home later this afternoon to wait for my nemesis, Time Warner, to fix my modem! Cross your fingers for me, please?