Vita Organic Foods stood out, tastefully, at last month’s Sweet Suite 2014 toy trade show in New York.
The two-year-old company, which has a manufacturing/store facility in Summit, N.J., passed out samples of its Vita Chocolate flagship brand in introducieng the many “mommy bloggers” in attendance to its “real food” product.
“It’s a great alternative,” says Jen Meister, a certified holistic health expert who co-founded Vita Organic Foods with “clean chef” Adele DiBiase. “No preservatives or GMOs, gluten-free, vegan, raw and nutrient-dense. It’s actually a superfood—cacao—and we wanted to educate all those who blog for kids.”
Vita Chocolate comes in seven bars: cacao, coconut, mint, orange almond, peanut butter, goji and cashew sea salt. All, notes Meister, are handmade.
Kids, she says, prefer the plain cacao and mint varieties.
"A lot of kids are diabetic and are able to eat our chocolate because of its low glycemic levels,” she adds, explaining that Vita Chocolate is sweetened by natural coconut palm-derived sweetener rather than highly refined sugars.
“Being a superfood,” instructs Meister, “cacao helps with inflammation, lowers cholesterol, and is very low-glycemic. Regular sugar in your blood spikes insulin, which causes craving and increases your cortisol level, which in turn causes inflammation--and fat around your belly!"
Vita Organic chocolates, she notes, are 72 percent cacao, and raw—thereby retaining nutrients. According to the company’s website, raw chocolate contains over 300 identifiable compounds that are considered to be highly medicinal, many of which are destroyed by cooking, processing and refining. Raw cacao has more antioxidant flavanoids than blueberries, red wine and black or green teas, and also is the best form of magnesium, chromium and iron—the top three minerals that are deficient in the American diet.
“We cook it at 118-degrees,” Meister notes. “Anything higher and food becomes less nutrient-dense, also causing craving, whereas nutrient-dense foods are satisfying.”
And the company eschews preservatives.
"I always say, ‘Eat preservatives--you behave like a preservative,’” she says. “What you put in your mouth comes out, whether emotionally or with inflammation.”
With Vita Organic products, “we take away complexity,” Meister continues. “The more preservatives in our body, the more complex our body becomes and the more complex it behaves.”
Vita Organic Foods came about when Meister, a nutritionist and lifestyle coach, decided to partner with DiBiase.
“She came to me as a client,” says Meister. “She’d been a restaurateur for many years, and was very Italian: I didn’t know how to get her away from making the most incredible organic pizza, but she wanted to change her lifestyle and the way she ate, and my approach is to connect nutrition and emotional well-being through food and the way we think about it.”
Meister also encourages “a clean way of living,” to use the name of her nutrition/lifestle company, Simple Clean and Whole.
“Adele did very well and after she lost 25 pounds in three months, said, ‘This approach has been so profound, can we do anything together?’ I’d always thought of doing a book or some type of food product to give my clients, such that they didn’t feel like they were cheating, and Adele sourced out a cacao bean from Ecuador and began making raw organic chocolate.”
They went with the name Vita as “it means life,” explains Meister, tying the new company in with the Simple Clean and Whole approach. She further notes that DiBiase has since become a “clean chef,” defined as focusing on whole and natural foods and excluding refined sugar, preservatives, bad fats, white bread and other unhealthful ingredients.
“I believe in fats, grains, protein, fruits and vegetables,” says Meister. “But it’s also important not to deprive anyone. You don’t have to be 100 percent simple, clean and whole, but 80 percent, with the other 20 percent 'living your life' with a cookie here and there, or drinking a bit. But most people are 20 percent simple,clean and whole, and 80 percent not.”
In other words, “it’s okay to have sweets,” clarifies Meister, noting, “Anything that comes from the sun, the rain and good soil is what we should be really ingesting 80 percent of the time--and 20 percent you can add what you want.”
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