Showing posts with label Margaret Schindel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Margaret Schindel. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Best Manicure Tools for Strong, Healthy Nails

For most of my life, I used to bite my nails and cuticles. Even after I eventually was able to break my nail biting habit, the only thing that helped me stop chewing or picking at my cuticles (for a while) was my mom's insistence that I join her for her weekly professional manicure appointment. Mom taught me the importance of bringing your own manicure tools and nail files for hygiene reasons (so you can be sure they have been properly sanitized), and she helped me choose the best set of nail care implements and related supplies to assemble my personal box of manicure tools to be used on my nails exclusively.

That was many decades ago. These days, we are even more health and hygiene conscious and cautious about the virulent spread of contagious diseases, and it's more important than ever for every member of your family to put together and maintain their own, personal, handpicked set of manicure tools to be used on their nails exclusively, whether for at-home nail care or to bring to a nail salon when they have a professional manicure.

For most of my life, I felt embarrassed by my unsightly, weak, flaking, peeling, and chipping nails and ragged cuticles. About 10 or 15 years ago, I finally decided to get serious about making my nails stronger, healthier, and more attractive. As a result of extensive research, dogged determination, and a lot of trial and error, I was able to educate myself about the most common causes of  nail damage, the most effective ways to heal the damage, and the best tools and techniques for improving the health and appearance of my damaged nails and cuticles. 

I have been surprised and grateful to see the slow but consistent progress these efforts have produced over time, and want to share the information, tools, techniques and tips that have helped me achieve such promising results with other people who might benefit from my experience.

This post, the first in a new series about my successful journey toward growing stronger, healthier, prettier nails and cuticles, focuses on the best types of manicure tools and pedicure tools for trimming and shaping your fingernails and toenails and grooming your cuticles. I'll also share the most important  features to look for when choosing nail clippers, nail scissors, nail files, cuticle pushers, and cuticle nippers, as well as the best manicure tools and pedicure tools I have purchased, handpicked favorites that have stood the test of time and earned a permanent spot as go-to components in my manicure and pedicure kits.

Woman's hand with nail polish, holding manicure tool
Some of the manicure tools that have helped me strengthen and heal my weak, ridged, peeling, splitting nails and ragged cuticles.

Selecting Manicure Tools Individually vs. Buying a Manicure Kit

Before we talk about which nail implements you need and the ones I think are the best quality at a good value, let's talk about the pros and cons of buying a nail kit that has the most commonly used tools and, often, some kind of storage case.

Pros:

  • Having someone else assemble a set of nail care implements for you is an easy, convenient option.
  • Having matching or coordinating tools (of any type) that are neatly organized in a fitted case is  visually appealing. A set of manicure tools designed and assembled by (or for) a single brand, especially if they come in a fitted storage case, can look neater and more attractive than a box or storage case with tools from different manufacturers.
  • Choosing this type of set also means having "a place for everything, and everything in its place" (as my grandmother, whose propensity for tidiness and order I unfortunately did not inherit, used to say). 
  • A preassembled nail care kit may be cheaper than the cost of buying the same types of implements individually, plus a storage case or box.

Unfortunately, there are also significant downsides to buying a these implements as a set, rather than selecting them individually, along with your own storage case or box.

Cons:

  • Preassembled kits often include items you don't need, even though you are paying for them.
  • More importantly, they can come with implements that can damage nails, such as metal files. These are much too abrasive to be used on natural nails and can cause peeling, chipping and breaking. (They are fine to use on artificial acrylic or gel nails, however.)
  • Conversely, many kits don't include all the tools I recommend for achieving and maintaining strong, healthy nails and cuticles.
  • If you've ever shopped for a multifunction printer, you know that it's rare to find one that gets top ratings for quality and speed across the board for text printing, photo printing, fax, and copy functions. Many excel at more than one, but few excel at all. The same tends to be true when buying tools, whether for car or household repairs, crafting, or nail care. Even in manicure kits that contain one or two high quality implements, the remainder usually are of lower quality.
  • Unless you are prepared to spend a lot of money, the quality of the manicure tools in a preassembled kit is likely to be inferior to the quality of tools you select individually.
So, while I love the idea of buying a nicely matched set of nail implements that fit neatly into a fitted storage case, I have discovered over time that, for me, the best way to get exactly what I need, at the quality level I want, is to put together my own kit.

Manicured hand holding nail clippers, cuticle nippers, cuticle pushers, and a glass nail file in a hard storage case
Having the right tools and making a commitment to daily nail care maintenance has enabled me to grow stronger, healthier nails, so I no longer have to hide my hands! 

Choosing the Best Manicure Tools

Choosing the components of your personal nail care kit means you can decide not only which items to include or exclude, so you can have everything you want, and aren't paying for anything you don't want or need.

It also allows you to decide how important the quality of each implement is to you which ones you are willing to spend more on vs. those you can economize on without damaging your nails or achieving inferior results.

Since everyone has different needs, the best set of implements for you will depend on factors such as whether you wear natural or artificial nails (such as gels or acrylics), your budget, and what, if any, issues you need to address, such as brittle, weak, chipping, peeling, ridged or splitting nails. 

Following are the best implements I have found for my own nail care kit that I can recommend highly based on personal experience and results. These are the tools I use on a regular basis, whether I'm giving myself a full manicure or just doing routine nail care maintenance.

Sharp Nail Clippers

I have always envied my sister's lovely, slender hands and long, slender fingers. My own tend to be a bit on the wide, stubby side, so when I'm not working on a jewelry making, crafting, or other project that requires short nails for the sake of practicality, I prefer to wear mine with a bit more length to create the illusion of slightly longer, thinner fingers. 

Before I learned how to improve the health and strength of my fingernails, as soon as I started to achieve any length at all, one or more of the tips would split, chip, or break (usually at or below the quick - ouch!), and I had to take them all down to the same, very short length and start again from scratch to grow them out to a more flattering (or, at least, not exceptionally short) length.  

When I finally learned that using files or salon boards to do this was actually contributing to my problems with brittle, weak, breaking, flaking, and peeling nails, I tried switching to nail clippers, one of the two recommended manicure tools for removing excess length before shaping the tips. (The other is curved nail scissors.) Unfortunately, I hated the first few clippers I tried! Here's why.

My fingernails have always tended to curve in at the sides. Also, when I need to repair a split or tear, the most effective solution I have found is the Orly Nail Rescue Kit, which includes brush-on super glue and a small container of fine acrylic nail powder to reinforce the glued repair area, which is them sanded or filed down as level as possible with the surrounding area. (As I mentioned, it's fine to use a file or salon board with acrylics.) Unfortunately, the cutting jaws on most of the fingernail clippers I tried were too close together to accommodate either the natural curve of my tips or the extra thickness created by the cyanoacrylate glue and acrylic powder patch. Also, the combination of my small hands and decreasing hand strength and dexterity made controlling the clippers somewhat challenging.

I even tried toenail clippers designed with widely spaced cutting jaws to accommodate thicker toenails, and an ergonomic design. Unfortunately, toenail clippers have straight jaws instead of the curved jaws recommended for trimming fingernails, and the clippers were much larger, bulkier, and more difficult to control and maneuver. So, eventually, I went back to using salon boards to file down the excess length instead of trimming it.

However, I knew this was exacerbating the existing damage to my fingernails, and I continued to look for a viable solution. Finally, in 2013, I found the right tool for the job! 

I highly recommend the Seki Edge Nail Clippers (SS-106), which feature:

  • Well crafted, precision cutting jaws made from high quality Japanese stainless steel.
  • Extremely sharp, curved blades that meet perfectly, with no gap, offset, or overlap.
  • Efficient, clean cuts that won't crush or damage nails and leave smooth edges that need only minimal refinement to the desired shape.
  • A generous 2 mm wide opening that can easily accommodate even curved or thick fingernails.
  • An ergonomic design that fits my small hands perfectly, yet also provides plenty of leverage to give me excellent control.

Sharp Nail Scissors

An alternative to nail clippers is to use a small pair of nail scissors with sharp, curved blades for trimming excess length prior to shaping the tips. They're actually better for your nails, since they are less likely to crush rather than cut cleanly. The downside is that they tend to be difficult to control when held in your non-dominant hand.

I picked up a pair of inexpensive Revlon nail scissors just to see if I could get the hang of using them in my non-dominant hand, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. So, instead, I use them to cut the nails on my left hand, and use my Seki Edge SS-106 nail clippers to clip the ones on my right hand. 

The Revlon scissors were fine for a while but, predictably, they have begun to dull, and it is cheaper to replace them than to have them sharpened. When I do, I'll be buying better pair that will hold their sharp edges and alignment for considerably longer. I'm leaning heavily toward these highly rated GERMANIKURE Professional Nail Cutter Scissors, handmade from FINOX high carbon stainless steel in Solingen, Germany (renowned for its finely crafted blades, knives, and cutting tools). They come with a leather storage case to protect the razor-sharp blades. The manufacturer, GERMANIKURE, stands behinds its tools, which are guaranteed for life! The company is also committed to ethical business practices, refuses to participate in child labor or worldwide pollution, and manufactures all its handcrafted products in socially and environmentally responsible facilities. 

Nail Care Tips: 

  • Always choose nail scissors with curved blades, not straight ones. 
  • Avoid buying manicure scissors intended for trimming cuticles. Their blades are too short to cut fingernails smoothly or efficiently. They also are not strong or sturdy enough to be used for cutting nails, which would likely cause them to loosen, become out of alignment, and lose their sharp edges prematurely.

Glass Nail Files

Emery boards, metal files, and coarse salon boards are best reserved for use on artificial nails. And while fine grit salon boards (and even medium grit, in a pinch) can be used to do the final shaping of your fingernails, the best thing to use for this step is an etched Czech glass nail file, sometimes called a crystal nail file.

Here are they key advantages that make etched glass nail files superior for achieving and maintaining strong, healthy nails.

Safer and More Hygienic

Unlike those made from other materials, glass nail files can be cleaned, sanitized, or sterilized in a variety of ways without negatively affecting their performance or shortening their useful life. They can be washed with soap and hot water; soaked in a solution of Barbicide concentrate (the iconic, Environmental Protection Agency-approved germicide, pseudomonacide, fungicide, and viricide that is effective against HIV-1, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, which is widely used in beauty and nail salons); cleaned with another strong chemical disinfectant; or sterilized with an autoclave or a UV light, among other methods.

Gentler and Less Damaging

Did you know that using emery boards, salon boards, or diamond coated files to refine the shape of your nails not only can exacerbate peeling, flaking, chipping, or splitting in weak, damaged nails, but also can cause new damage to healthy nails? These types of nail files are coated with abrasives that have tiny, sharp edges or corners that can create friction and drag, potentially catching or snagging on the exposed edges of the keratin protein layers along the "free edge" of each nail. 

Czech glass nail files have the exact opposite effect, thanks to their etched glass filing surfaces that, unlike glued-on abrasives, have no sharp edges or corners to catch or snag on the nail's vulnerable free edge. The first time I used a crystal nail file to shape my just-trimmed nails, I was very surprised at how different it felt compared to the fine salon boards I had been using for this purpose. 

Helps Seal the Vulnerable "Free Edge"

The etched glass surface enables the file to glide across the free edges much more smoothly, so shaping them is practically effortless. More importantly, the filing surfaces can help to smooth out peeling or rough edges and, in the process, help seal the edges of the layers together.

If you are lucky enough to have strong, healthy nails, using glass nail files will help keep them in good condition. If you have weak, peeling, chipping, or splitting nails, switching to etched Czech glass files can help make them stronger and healthier.   

Faster and Easier

After feeling how smoothly and effortlessly the Mont Bleu file glided over the edges of my newly trimmed nails, I assumed that significant reduction in friction or drag meant that the glass file was removing less material per stroke than the abrasive-coated files, and that shaping my nails with the crystal nail file would require either more strokes or more pressure compared to using a salon board.

Imagine my surprise when, after just two or three strokes, I discovered that the etched glass filing surface had removed much more of the nail than I had intended! After having to trim the rest of my nails (again) to match the unintentionally shorter length of the nail I had been filing quickly taught me two important lessons about using glass nail files for shaping: 

  1. Use barely any pressure, and allow the file to do the work.
  2. After each stroke, take a moment to check your progress. (It takes only a second to file off a bit more, if you need to, but once you have removed some of the length, you can't put it back!) 

I took very little time to get a feel for how these wonderful Czech glass nail files perform compared to emery boards or salon boards, and how light a touch I to use to achieve the results I want. After having used them for many years, after I have trimmed my nails to just slightly longer than I want them to be with my nail clippers and/or nail scissors, it usually takes me about a minute (maybe two, if I'm being fussy) to file all 10 nails to the round/oval shape I usually prefer. 

Extremely Long Lasting

The etched glass surface doesn't wear out, unlike salon boards or emery boards. This means that, unless you lose them or break them (which can happen if you accidentally drop or knock them onto a hard surface, or don't store them in a protective hard case), once you purchase them you can use them indefinitely. 

The Best Value for Money

Since the filing surfaces never wear out, as long as you take care of them and wash them regularly (to prevent the etched surfaces from clogging with nail filing dust), these Czech etched glass files will work as well decades from now as the day you received them. In fact, both the sets I am recommending are backed by a lifetime guarantee against the filing surfaces becoming dull (provided the files are used as intended and not abused, and that reasonable care has been taken to protect them, such as storing them in a protective sleeve, pouch, or hard case).

Mont Bleu is one of the largest and best known manufacturers of Czech glass nail files. Their Mont Bleu Premium Set of 3 Crystal Nail Files in Velvet Pouch is a terrific value: a set of Czech glass nail files in three different lengths (3.54”/90 mm, 5.31”/135 mm, and 7.68” / 195 mm) for less than $10, as of this writing. Their high quality crystal nail files are made from dual-tempered glass, so they are significantly more durable than products made by companies that don't use a dual-tempering process to add strength. This Mont Bleu premium set of three crystal nail files is being offered in a choice of 22 colors, including some extremely attractive color combinations with ombré shading. The only drawback is that each glass file is protected only by a sleeve made of black velveteen fabric and clear plastic, which may or may not provide sufficient protection, depending on how, and where, they are stored.

I keep several small glass nail files on hand, including one in my purse or handbag, another in the glove compartment of the car, and a third in my travel toiletry and makeup bag. I also keep a larger size in my box of manicure tools. I started with this set of three premium Mon Bleu crystal nail files, which are wonderful. Unfortunately, I can bit a bit of a klutz sometimes, which caused two of them to meet premature ends. One of the smaller ones snapped when I accidentally sat on my soft fabric purse when I got into the car, and another broke when it accidentally fell out of my travel toiletry bag, which was sitting open next to the bathroom sink at our hotel, and landed on the hard tile floor. So, for me, keeping my glass nail files in protective, hard plastic cases is a high priority.

When I researched possible replacements for my original set that would come with cases that offered better protection against breakage, I was thrilled to discover that Mont Bleu also makes the Czech glass nail files sold under the Bliss Kiss brand, which are available in only two sizes and one color choice (a pretty ruby red), but come with not only the soft velvet and clear plastic sleeve, but also an elegant looking, durable, protective hard plastic case. 

I now own three of the 3.5" (9 cm) long Bliss Kiss Simply Crystal Nail Files (small), which have a 2.25" (5.71 cm) usable filing surface. I also have one large Bliss Kiss Simply Crystal Nail File, which is 5.38" (13.7 cm) long and has a usable filing surface or 2.5" (6.4 cm). Note: An extra 0.25" of usable filing surface may not sound like much, but the difference definitely is noticeable when I'm using the larger size.

Cuticle Pushers

I recommend having at least two types of cuticle pushers, a set of silicone-tipped cuticle pushers and a wooden cuticle pusher, also called an orange stick.

I also have a metal cuticle scraper that I use only when necessary. If you decide to add one to your box of manicure tools, be very careful to use it sparingly and be extremely gentle, since it is very easy to cause potentially serious damage to your nails, cuticles, and nail bed with this hard, sharp metal tool

Cuticle Nippers

When choosing cuticle nippers, look for a pair that has:

  • Very sharp blades on the jaws.
  • Properly aligned jaws with no gaps; you shouldn't be able to see any light shining through between the edges when you hold the closed nippers up to a bright light.
    • It is especially important to check that the last millimeter or so of the pointed tip is sharp and is perfectly aligned, since that it the only part of the cuticle nippers you will be using to nip off the tiny bits of hangnails neatly, without tearing or cutting too much. When using cuticle nippers to nip off a tiny hangnail, it's far too easy to make it worse instead of better. 
  • A robust spring-loaded mechanism that is properly centered and doesn't slip easily when you close the jaws.
  • A silicone cover to protect the jaws when the cuticle nippers are not in use.
On the cuticle nippers I have tried over the year, my favorite by far is the Sephora Collection Cut to the Point Cuticle Nippers, which are sharper and better made than my much more expensive Deborah Lippmann cuticle nippers that I purchased years ago as part of a special nail care set. They have been on sale for a while, and I don't know whether they are being discontinued. So, if you want a pair, I encourage you to grab one ASAP!

    Keep a Separate Set of Pedicure Tools

    It is a good idea to use your manicure tools only on your hands (which are washed frequently throughout the day), and assemble a separate pedicure tool kit reserved exclusively for use on your feet (which usually are washed only once a day, are enclosed in hosiery and footwear all day long, and are more prone to fungal infections). 

    A good set of pedicure tools should be very similar to your manicure tools. Mine includes duplicates of the same Czech glass nail files, cuticle pushers, and cuticle nippers I use for grooming my fingernails. 

    The main difference is that, instead of fingernail clippers or nail scissors, you will need a set of high quality clippers designed specifically for cutting toenails. (I would be wary of nail clippers that claim to be for both fingernails and toenails.)

    To avoid ingrown toenails, your toenails should be cut straight across. When shopping for toenail clippers, I recommend looking for the following features:

    • Very sharp blades that make efficient, clean cuts through toenails, which are thicker, tougher, and (in the case of the big toenail) significantly larger than fingernails.
    • Jaws and blades made from high quality metal, such as high-carbon stainless steel, that will not only take a sharp edge but also keep it for a long time.
    • Straight jaws (unlike fingernail clippers, which should have curved jaws) that meet perfectly along the entire length of the cutting edges, and are precisely aligned.
    • An ergonomic design, including a handle with a good, comfortable grip and good leverage, to prevent your hands from becoming strained or fatigued after several minutes of use.
      • This is especially important if your toenails have thickened or become tougher, which often happens as we age.
    • Jaws that open wide enough to slide along your big toenail, especially if it is thick, tough, or curved at the edges.

    Like my fingernails, my toenails curve inward a bit (which might have been exacerbated by my foolish insistence on squeezing my very wide feet into B-width shoes during my "salad days," since fashionable shoes in wide widths didn't exist back than). As a result, I need toenail clippers (as well as fingernail clippers) with jaws that open quite wide. 

    My grip strength is also much weaker than it used to be. This meant finding toenail clippers that, in addition to being a precision tool with very sharp jaws and a wide opening, also would allow me to grip them securely and comfortably in my small hand and provide superior leverage to compensate for my weak grip strength, so that I would be able to make sharp, clean cuts through my thick, brittle, curved toenails without painful strain and cramping. 

    As with my earlier search for the best nail clippers for my fingernails, finding the best toenail clippers to meet my needs required investments of more time and money, as well as more trial and error, than I had hoped it would. Fortunately, my stubbornness and persistence eventually paid off.

    My BEZOX Toenail Clippers are some seriously heavy duty nail clippers. They are designed specifically for cutting tough, thick, and ingrown nails, and are substantial and sturdy without being heavy. The jaws open wide enough to easily accommodate even the thickest or most curved nails. The long blades are extremely sharp, and I have learned to treat them (especially the super-sharp, pointed tips) with the respect they deserve! The long, well cushioned handles have an ergonomic design, and despite their unusually wide profile, they fit my small hand very comfortably, which was a pleasant surprise. Most importantly, perhaps, they also provide enough leverage to enable me cut my thick, tough, slightly ingrown big toenails without having to ask my husband for help!

    These awesome BEZOX toenail clippers are very reasonably priced, given the high quality, thoughtful design, and attention to detail. I appreciate the sturdy metal storage box with a velvet-lined fitted interior. And although the color of the handle did not factor into my purchase decision, I have to admit that I love the pretty red cushioned grips.


    The Best Manicure Tools for Strong, Healthy Nails product review by Margaret Schindel


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    Wednesday, April 21, 2021

    The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

    I love baking homemade cinnamon muffins, which always fills our house with the lovely, nostalgic aroma of this traditional, warm spice. So, I've been collecting and trying out low carb, keto-friendly cinnamon muffin recipes that fit my healthy, ketogenic approach to eating. 

    The recipes I'm sharing produce scrumptious sugar free cinnamon muffins that the whole family will enjoy, especially if they are trying to reduce or eliminate grains or sugar and other sweeteners that can spike their blood sugar levels and be harmful to their health in potentially more serious ways. 

    Any of these cinnamon muffins can be paired with a cup of hot tea, coffee, or cocoa, or a glass of cold, unsweetened vanilla almond milk or macadamia milk for a guilt-free, wholesome, low carb treat for breakfast, dessert, or a healthy, nutritious, and delicious snack.

    I am also sharing my product review of BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix, which makes excellent low carb muffins in practically no time when mixed with just two ingredients: eggs and melted butter (or coconut oil).

    Bon appétit!

    Photo of keto friendly cinnamon muffins

    The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffin Recipes

    I have hand picked the following recipes based on their flavor, texture, calories, net carbs, and other aspects of their nutritional profile that make them good choices for people who love baked goods and follow a low carb or keto diet, or who just want to reduce or eliminate sugar from their diets as part of a healthier lifestyle. 

    The keto cinnamon muffin recipes I've chosen to feature also can accommodate a range of common dietary restrictions. Most of them are low carb, sugar free, gluten free, grain free, and diabetic friendly. Two are also dairy free, and many of the others can be used to make dairy free muffins by replacing the butter with coconut oil. One of those is vegan. The other suggests substituting sunflower seed meal (aka sunflower seed flour) for the almond meal or almond flour for a nut-free cinnamon muffin recipe option. 

    Replacing almond flour or meal with sunflower seed flour or meal works well in many low carb or keto baking recipes, and for someone with nut allergies, it's well worth experimenting with. (You might need to use a bit more than the specified amount of almond flour.)

    If you are making these treats for someone who has dietary requirements other than, or in addition to, following a low carb or keto diet, be sure to review the ingredients for each recipe to ensure that it will fit that person's specific dietary restrictions.


    Keto Cinnamon Cream Cheese Muffins Recipe (Wholesome Yum)

    Maya Krampf developed the recipe for these yummy low carb keto cinnamon cream cheese muffins for her deservedly popular Wholesome Yum low carb and keto website. She is also the author of one of my favorite low carb cookbooks, The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook: 100 Simple Low Carb Recipes. 10 Ingredients or Less.

    A sweet vanilla cream cheese filling makes her low carb keto cinnamon cream cheese muffins like a cross between a coffee cake muffin with cinnamon streusel and a cheese danish pastry. I always make sure to warm these up before eating them (or sharing them with my husband, who also enjoys them), so the creamy filling returns to its slightly runny, just-out-of-the-oven state. 

    The batter and cream cheese filling are sweetened with Maya's granulated/crystallized Besti monk fruit allulose sweetener blend. She says you could substitute allulose, or granulated erythritol for the batter and powdered erythritol for the filling, if you wanted to. The cinnamon streusel topping is sweetened with her Besti Brown monk fruit allulose sweetener blend, and she says she hasn't found another healthy, keto-friendly brown sugar substitute that works well in this recipe.

    Compare the macros for Maya's Keto Cinnamon Cream Cheese Muffins, at 4.8g net carbs each, with those for Winchell's Donut House Cream Cheese Muffins (the most similar commercial muffin I could find nutrition data for), at a whopping 81g net carbs!

    Nutrition Facts

    Keto Cinnamon Cream Cheese Muffins
    (Wholesome Yum)
    Winchell's Donut House Cream Cheese Muffins
    (source)
    Serving Size: 1 muffin

    Calories 318 610
    Total Fat 29.3g 27g
    Total Carbohydrate 8.7g 82g
    Net Carbs 4.8g 81g
    Dietary Fiber 3.9g 1g
    Sugars 1.8g 56g
    Protein 9.3g 9g

    Recipe Notes:

    As of this writing, these sweeteners are not yet available on Amazon.ca. However, you can order Besti sweeteners on Wholesome Yum Foods and have them shipped to Canada (although the shipping obviously will be higher). If you live in a country other than the U.S. and Canada and would like to be able to order these products, Wholesome Yum plans to expand its distribution internationally, based on demand. To express your interest, you can sign up to be notified when Besti sweeteners will become available in your country.


    Keto Coffee Cake Muffins (All Day I Dream About Food)

    Like any coffee cake worthy of the name, these tempting keto coffee cake muffins from Carolyn Ketchum have a grain-free, sugar-free cinnamon crumb topping, as well as an optional sweet vanilla glaze drizzle. Carolyn is the writer and fabulous recipe developer for another extremely popular low carb recipe blog and website, All Day I Dream About Food, another of my go-to resources for consistently excellent keto recipes.

    She says these keto coffee cake muffins are "better and healthier than any bakery option!" For me, that's a bit of a stretch. (Even though my taste buds have adapted to enjoy the baked goods from the best keto baking recipes, which definitely includes Carolyn's, I have never eaten keto baked goods that have a better taste and texture than their flour- and sugar-laden counterparts from a good bakery.) That said, this recipe produces wonderful, bakery-style low carb muffins that have an unusually moist and tender crumb (for keto-friendly baked goods), thanks to the use of both almond flour and coconut flour, as well as unflavored whey protein powder that helps them rise properly, since there is no gluten in the grain-free batter. The cinnamon streusel topping and optional vanilla glaze also add to their bakery muffin taste and texture. 

    The recipe calls for Swerve Brown sweetener for the crumb topping, granulated Swerve sweetener for the muffin batter, and powdered Swerve for the vanilla glaze drizzle. 

    Compare the huge differences in nutrition between a Keto Coffee Cake Muffin from All Day I Dream About Food (3.9 g of net carbs) and a Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffin from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (54 g of net carbs):

    Nutrition Facts

    Keto Coffee Cake Muffins (All Day I Dream About Food)
    Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins (source)
    Serving Size: 1 muffin

    Calories 285 450
    Total Fat 24.4g 23g
    Total Carbohydrate 7.6g 55g
    Net Carbs 3.9g 54g
    Dietary Fiber 3.7g 1g
    Sugars - 32g
    Protein 9.1g 4g

    Recipe Notes:

    Swerve sweeteners are mostly erythritol. If you don't care for the taste of erythritol, or if it causes you gastric distress, you can check out Carolyn's Ultimate Guide to Keto Sweeteners Ultimate Guide to Keto Sweeteners on All Day I Dream About Food to find suitable keto-friendly brown, granulated, and powdered sweetener alternatives.


    Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Muffins (All Day I Dream About Food)

    I have had a long and complicated relationship with Nutella. The first time we met, it was love at first bite. I fondly remember the blissful decades when we were together. Sadly, when I started focusing on improving my health and trying to lose weight, I was forced to accept that my beloved "Nutty," with its palm oil, sugar, and artificial vanilla flavoring, was just no good for me. Finally, I found the strength to break up with it, fervently hoping that, someday, I would find another chocolate hazelnut spread that would be just as sweet, satisfying, and special, but also would support my commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

    Fortunately, when I began researching low carb and ketogenic diet recipes, I discovered Carolyn Ketchum's All Day I Dream About Food website, which includes quite a few Nutella inspired low carb and keto recipes. Her amazing keto Nutella-stuffed cinnamon muffins hide a sweet surprise—a rich, creamy chocolate hazelnut filling made with healthier, fresher ingredients than the popular commercial spread. In this recipe, her sugar free Nutella filling is made from freshly toasted and husked hazelnuts, hazelnut oil, dark cocoa powder, heavy cream, keto-friendly sweetener, and pure vanilla extract.

    These luscious keto cinnamon muffins are sweet and rich enough to enjoy for dessert. Served with a cup of fresh, hot coffee, they also make a truly decadent breakfast. 

    The most comparable muffins I could find (from a reliable source I trust) for a nutritional comparison were the Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins from Sally's Baking Addiction, which have a cinnamon-sugar topping instead of Carolyn's streusel crumb topping and vanilla glaze drizzle. 

    Compare the calories, net carbs, fat, fiber, and protein in these indulgent yet low carb, keto-friendly Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Muffins from All Day I Dream About Food to the wonderful Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins on Sally's Baking Addiction.

    Nutrition Facts

    Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Muffins (All Day I Dream About Food)
    Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins (Sally's Baking Addiction) (source)
    Serving Size: 1 muffin

    Calories 310 450
    Total Fat 29g 23g
    Total Carbohydrate 8g 55g
    Net Carbs 4g 54g
    Dietary Fiber 4g 1g
    Sugars - 32g
    Protein 10g 4g

    Recipe Notes:

    In the comments, Carolyn Ketchum explains how she toasts and husks the hazelnuts. Toast the nuts in a preheated 350 °F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, take them out, and let them cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then roll them between your fingers while still warm and most of the husks will come off easily. Don’t worry about a few stubborn bits of husk; they won’t matter after you grind the hazelnuts. 

    In my experience, nuts can go from nicely toasted to burned very quickly. I toast mine on a rimmed baking sheet, so I can give it a shake every few minutes without the nuts falling off the pan, and keep a close eye on them until I remove them from the oven. I let them cool for only 3 or 4 minutes, and then rub the toasted nuts briskly inside a clean kitchen towel to loosen the husks. I find that they loosen more easily when they are quite warm, and the towel protects my fingers from the heat.

    Note to low carb baking enthusiasts:

    In addition to being the driving force behind All Day I Dream About Food, Carolyn Ketchum has written eight keto cookbooks (as of this writing). I highly recommend the two I have purchased so far, the Keto For Two Cookbook (e-book) and The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking: Master All the Best Tricks for Low-Carb Baking Success, which I consider my keto baking "bible" and a must-have for anyone who wants to understand the chemistry and techniques of successful keto baking recipes (which are fundamentally different than those of successful conventional baking). 

    Note to conventional baking enthusiasts:

    For many years, Sally McKenny's Sally's Baking Addiction website and her superb baking cookbooks have been among my favorite sources for consistently reliable, clearly written and clearly explained recipes for mouthwatering baked goods made with conventional ingredients, such as sugar, wheat flour, and cornstarch. So, although they don't fit within a sugar free, gluten free, or low carb diet, I recommend her cookbooks and website very highly to anyone who loves to bake with sugar and other high carb ingredients.


    Low Carb Cinnamon Roll Muffins (The Big Man's World)

    This high protein, low carb cinnamon roll muffins recipe from Arman Liew of The Big Man's World is quite unusual, since it contains no eggs and no butter. In fact, this recipe is keto, paleo, vegan, sugar free, gluten free, grain free, and dairy free. 

    These almond flour muffins also contain vanilla protein powder to add sweetness, increase the protein, and help them rise in the absence of gluten, which creates a lighter texture and a better crumb. Pumpkin purée makes them moist. Coconut oil provides the fat in the muffin batter, along with your choice of unsweetened, low carb nut butter or seed butter (Arman suggests almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower seed butter), which further boosts the protein, while coconut butter (also called coconut manna) gives the lemony glaze a luxurious mouthfeel. 

    It was hard to find a close analog for a nutritional comparison. I finally chose to compare the impressive macros for these Low Carb Cinnamon Roll Muffins from The Big Man's World (only 1g of net carbs per serving) to Starbucks Cinnamon Muffins (41g of net carbs each). 

    Nutrition Facts

    Low Carb Cinnamon Roll Muffins 
    (The Big Man's World)
    Starbucks Cinnamon Muffins
    (source)
    Serving Size: 1 muffin

    Calories 112 350
    Total Fat 9g 27g
    Total Carbohydrate 3g 42g
    Net Carbs 1g 41g
    Dietary Fiber 2g 1g
    Sugars - 30g
    Protein 5g 5g


    Keto Cinnamon Muffins (Sweet As Honey)

    This versatile recipe for gluten free, dairy free, sugar free cinnamon muffins comes from another of my favorite low-carb food bloggers, Carine Claudepierre, the writer, recipe developer, food photographer, and videographer at Sweet As Honey

    Her bakery-style keto cinnamon muffins are dipped into sugar-free cinnamon sugar while they're still hot, to add a crunchy topping and more cinnamon flavor. After they have cooled completely, the tops are coated with icing, made from powdered sugar-free sweetener mixed with just enough unsweetened almond milk to achieve your preferred consistency. 

    This recipe is made with equal amounts of almond flour and flaxseed meal (aka flax meal). Flax is a source of many nutrition and health benefits, and flaxseed meal contains very few carbs, so it's great to bake with. Carine recommends using golden flaxseed meal rather than brown flaxseed meal, which would give these baked goods an unpleasant, bitter aftertaste (and no one wants that!). I prefer Bob's Red Mill organic golden flaxseed meal

    She says she always uses an erythritol and monk fruit sweetener blend, and although the ingredients list says "erythritol," it links to the original Classic White Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener With Erythritol. The recipe was published in August 2019, three months before the brand introduced its  Lakanto Monkfruit Baking Sweetener With Erythritol, which also contains tapioca fiber, chicory root inulin, and cellulose gum and was created specifically as a 1:1 sugar replacement for baking recipes. According to Lakanto, some of its advantages for baked goods recipes are that it "dissolves effortlessly, retains moisture, can control cookie spread, and provides better browning for your desserts." I suspect it would be even better than the Classic White Lakanto for this recipe.

    Since I couldn't find any commercial equivalents to these Sweet As Honey Keto Cinnamon Muffins whose tops are completely covered with icing (2.3 g of net carbs), I'll compare them to the Walmart Bakery Marketside Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins with no icing (45g of net carbs):

    Nutrition Facts

    Keto Cinnamon Muffins
    (Sweet As Honey)
    Walmart Bakery Marketside Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins (source)
    Serving Size: 1 muffin

    Calories 217 370
    Total Fat 16.5g 19g
    Total Carbohydrate 5.5g 46g
    Net Carbs 2.3g 45g
    Dietary Fiber 3.2g 1g
    Sugars 0.4 26g
    Protein 5.3g 5g

    Recipe Notes:

    Carine offers several suggestions for optional mix-ins, if you would like to customize these muffins to suit your personal preference. (Keep in mind that any additional ingredients or substitutions will affect the calories, macros, and other aspects of this recipe's nutritional profile.)

    Even though the recipe uses flaxseed meal, she warns against trying to replace the whole eggs with "flax eggs" (flaxseed meal mixed with water), egg white, or another substitute. 

    She suggests coconut milk as an alternative to almond milk for the glaze. (I'm sure any keto-friendly dairy-free milk would work.)

    If you don't need dairy-free muffins, you can use melted butter in place of the coconut oil, if you prefer.

    For nut-free low carb cinnamon muffins, you can replace the almond flour with the same amount of sunflower seed flour or meal.  


    BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix

    If you don't have a lot of time for (or don't enjoy) baking from scratch, you can still indulge in some delicious, fragrant, freshly baked keto cinnamon muffins, thanks to BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix.

    Photo of BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffins on cooling rack
    My most recent batch from BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix

    Low Carb Muffins in About 15 Minutes

    Preparing these tasty treats couldn't be any faster or easier! Just mix the contents of one bag of BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix with 3 whole eggs and 1/2 cup of melted butter (or coconut oil, for dairy free muffins), portion the batter into a lightly greased 12-cup cupcake or muffin tin, and bake in a preheated 425 ℉ oven for 12–14 minutes, until golden brown, and enjoy!

    Low carb keto baking recipes often turn out to be dense, coarse, and dry. Not these delectable muffins! The texture is lighter than I was expecting, which is great. My first batch was a bit on the dry side, but only because I left them in the oven a bit too long. (It's hard to tell when the muffins are "golden brown" when that's the color of the batter to begin with, lol.) So, I baked my second batch for just 12 minutes, and allowed them to cool a bit longer before sampling them. This time, the muffins were delightfully moist and tender! And, both times, not just my kitchen but my whole smelled divine.

    High Quality, Wholesome, Healthy Ingredients

    I have shared many posts on Review This Reviews about my keto diet weight loss journey that began in May 2019 and enabled me to lose nearly 60 pounds, and my subsequent decision to continue to follow a very low carb, ketogenic approach to eating that has made it easy to maintain my new, slim, healthy weight for more than a year so far. If so, you know that my primary motivation for this change in diet and lifestyle was getting healthier and lowering my risk of cancer and other serious diseases. So, although I am somewhat flexible, I try to make fairly "clean" food choices. And, when I purchase a low carb or keto baking mix (or prepared baked goods), the first thing I look at is the ingredients.

    BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix is made with the same high quality, wholesome, healthy ingredients I use in my homemade keto baking recipes when I'm making low carb muffins from scratch: almond flour, BochaSweet (kabocha extract), grass-fed collagen, psyllium husk powder, organic coconut flour, organic cinnamon, MCT oil powder, baking soda, aluminum-free baking powder, pink salt, and xanthan gum. The ingredients are non GMO, and the mix contains no preservatives or additives. (For that reason, the prepared muffins need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.) 

    I love the fact that this keto cinnamon muffin mix is sweetened with BochaSweet sugar replacement, my favorite zero calorie, zero glycemic sweetener! BochaSweet tastes nearly identical to cane sugar and (to me and many other happy BochaSweet customers) has no aftertaste and none of the cooling effect produced by some other keto friendly sweeteners (such as erythritol). After using this healthy sweetener every day for about 1.5 years so far (to sweeten my tea, among other things), I have experienced zero gastric distress or laxative effect from this healthy sweetener, and most other product reviews I have read from customers who mention their reactions concur with my experience. The only downside is that it costs more than most other healthy keto-friendly sweeteners. However, for me and many other people who are looking for healthier, zero calorie, zero glycemic sugar alternatives, it's worth paying the higher price for this one, as well as for products that are sweetened with it.

    BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix was launched in late August, 2020, just as I was finishing up my review of recipes and baking mixes for making Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet. That meant I wouldn't be able to order, test, and review this new cinnamon muffin mix in time to include it in that review of my favorite keto muffins and cupcakes. In the course of testing the recipes and mixes for that review, I ended up with a freezer full of baked goods and a pantry that was positively overflowing with packaged low carb keto baking mixes. So, it was only recently that I finally ordered a couple of bags of the BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix to try. Now that I've made these quick and easy, tender, toothsome low carb keto cinnamon muffins, I will definitely update that review to include this yummy, convenient BochaSweet baking mix!

    Nutrition Facts

    BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix

    Serving Size:
    23g of dry mix


    Calories 60
    Total Fat 3g
    Total Carbohydrate 13g
    Net Carbs 3g
    Dietary Fiber 4g
    Sugars <1g
    Protein 4g


    Product Review Notes:

    The company provides this information for the dry mix only. However, you can easily calculate the nutrition data for the prepared muffins by entering the data for the dry mix into a tracking app such as Carb Manager and then creating a recipe entry in the app that will calculate the macros based on the ingredients (12 servings of the dry baking mix, three large eggs, and 1/2 cup of butter or coconut oil).

    The net carbs for this BochaSweet Keto Cinnamon Muffin Mix are calculated as follows:13g total carbohydrates - 4g dietary fiber - 6g BochaSweet = 3g net carbs

    BochaSweet is the name of the company, its flagship product (BochaSweet sugar replacement), and the overarching brand for its other products (such as baking mixes), including those with secondary brands (such as BochaSweet BochaBars high protein, high fiber bars and and BochaSweet Bocha-Beets nutritional supplement). For some reason, on the brand's logotype, the words Bocha and Sweet are separated by a space, which likely explains why it is often misspelled "Bocha Sweet" (occasionally, you'll even see an Amazon product listing for a "Bocha Sweet" product). 


    Recipes and Product Review: The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins by Margaret Schindel


    Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

    The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

    The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

    Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

    The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

    The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

    Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

    Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

    Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

    Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

    Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

    Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

    My First Year on The Keto Diet


    Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

    My Personal Keto Testimonial

    How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


    Read More Recipe Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

    Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

    Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors




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    Wednesday, April 7, 2021

    The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

    The Good Chocolate bars - Bean-to-Bar, Zero Sugar, 100% Delicious

    The Good Chocolate: Great-Tasting, Healthy Chocolate Bars With No Sugar

    I love chocolate! When I was younger, milk chocolate was my favorite. As the health benefits of dark chocolate became more widely known, however, I gradually retrained my taste buds to appreciate bars with a higher cacao or cocoa content. Now, my preference for dark chocolate has been reinforced by my keto diet lifestyle, since milk contains 2–8% lactose (a sugar naturally present in dairy milk).

    Several months ago, I discovered The Good Chocolate, a brand of top quality, bean-to-bar chocolate made with 100% organic, ethically sourced ingredients and no sugar. It has since become one of my favorite brands of sugar free chocolate.

    I'm pleased to be sharing my in-depth product review to introduce you to this terrific, principled company and its wonderful chocolate bars and mini-bars.

    Can a Premium Quality, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Be Delicious and Also Healthy? 

    The Good Chocolate is the brainchild of two lifelong friends and partners in a branding and design agency, who in 2014 began to cut out all forms of sugar (including honey and agave) from their diets and replace them with organic, low- or no-calorie sweeteners with a low glycemic index. Six months later, they were thrilled with the results. They had each lost 10 pounds, were feeling great, had more energy, and were able to maintain their focus throughout the work day, without the mid-day crashes that frequently result from consuming sugar (in beverages, desserts, or snacks) in the late morning or early afternoon. (I experienced the same benefits (with a much bigger weight loss) a few months after I switched to a ketogenic weight loss diet, which included eliminating sugar in any form.) 

    During this process, they learned about how most food companies are well aware that adding sugar (or salt) to their products makes us eat, crave, and buy more of them—a cycle that is very profitable for the manufacturers...and very unhealthy, and expensive, for consumers. 

    The partners were inspired to help others break free from their sugar addiction and experience the improved health, wellbeing, energy and productivity they themselves were enjoying. So, they challenged themselves to create a bean-to-bar chocolate that would live up to their own high standards.

    Within a few months, they had come up with a "sweet-blend" of three organic, low-glycemic-index sweeteners that met their exacting requirements for taste, health, and sustainability. They also immersed themselves in all things chocolate making, developing the required expertise in every step from sourcing organic cacao beans in Central and South America to perfectly tempering the roasted, winnowed, and ground chocolate. 

    They describe the result as "an exquisite, 100% organic bean-to-bar chocolate that’s as delicious as it is healthy." Source

    It also has up to 45% fewer calories than similar dark chocolate!

    What Is "Bean-to-Bar" Chocolate Making? 

    "Bean to Bar" production means that chocolate maker controls every step of the process, from sourcing the cacao beans to roasting, winnowing, and grinding them, and then tempering the chocolate before it is molded and packaged for sale. 

    The bean-to-bar method gives artisan or craft chocolate makers better quality control and produces a healthier product (since craft chocolate makers, unlike many big brands, do not try to accelerate the manufacturing process with chemicals or other additives). Source

    It also gives the producers more control over the supply chain, so they can promote ethical and humane business practices.  (More about this important topic later.) 

    The Good Chocolate controls the entire production process for its 100% organic chocolate bars at its factory in San Francisco.

    Most Sugar Free Chocolate Isn’t Great “Eating Chocolate”

    Since many chocolate bars with a higher cacao content, especially those with no sugar, lack the intense, rich flavor and luscious mouthfeel of bars with a lower cacao content, I have become extremely picky about sugar free chocolate.

    In the past two years, I have tried many brands of low sugar and sugar free chocolate. There are plenty of low carb chocolate options. Unfortunately, many are sweetened primarily or exclusively with stevia or erythritol. Like many people, I find that anything sweetened only with stevia has a pronounced aftertaste that I dislike intensely, and that erythritol, when used as the only sweetener in a food, creates a cooling, almost mint-like sensation on the tongue. 

    Apart from BochaSweet sweetener (made from a pentose-type rare sugar extract from the kabocha squash), blends of two or more keto-friendly sweeteners, such as allulose, monk fruit, erythritol and stevia, taste more like sugar and don’t have the unpleasant aftertaste or cooling effect that stevia or erythritol can have when used alone. 

    Chocolate sweetened this way can be quite tasty. For example, I often sprinkle ChocZero chocolate chips over sugar free desserts such as my Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe, and they're fine for baking keto chocolate chip cookies, for example. ChocZero's dark chocolate keto bark is quite good, and their seasonal dark chocolate peppermint truffles are pretty yummy, for sugar-free chocolate. 

    On the other hand, their dark chocolate contains only 55% cacao. The ingredients aren't organic. And the taste and mouthfeel are not in the same ballpark as the very high quality, sugar-sweetened dark chocolate I loved and enjoyed for many years, before I decided to cut sugar out of my life. 

    So, I have been on the lookout for a great "eating chocolate" (i.e., chocolate meant to be enjoyed as is, rather than with a filling, as a garnish, or in baked goods) with a higher cacao content, a more intense flavor, and a superior mouthfeel.  

    The Good Chocolate Bars Are Worth Savoring!

    The Good Chocolate has the decadent taste and smooth, luscious mouthfeel of the artisan dark chocolate I used to indulge in before I chose a very low carb lifestyle. Like those, these bars are made from top quality cacao beans and cacao butter, roasted, winnowed, ground, tempered, and molded with the same care and expertise. 

    Unlike those, however, they don't contain sugar in any form. This means they won't cause your blood sugar levels to spike. It also means they won't cause you to crave more chocolate than is good for you. One of the biggest benefits of cutting out sugar from my diet is that I can I still enjoy and indulge in sweets without being at the mercy of my former cravings!

    Having been a foodie for as long as I can remember, one of the keys to setting myself up for success on a keto diet was finding yummy healthier, keto-friending alternatives to my favorite foods so that I wouldn't feel deprived or be tempted to stray from my new eating plan. I was lucky that, unlike some people, I was able to conquer my sugar addiction without having to give up desserts, beverages, candy, and other foods that were sweetened with healthier alternatives to any form of sugar. 

    That's why I was so delighted when I tasted The Good Chocolate bars. They are luxurious enough to savor slowly and should please even gourmet chocolate aficionados. 


    A Unique Blend of Organic Healthy Sweeteners 

    In addition to using the highest quality, organic raw ingredients and a bean-to-bar process that gives the company full control over every aspect of production, another key thing that sets this brand's sugar free dark chocolate bars apart from most others is its organic "sweet-blend" of erythritol, stevia leaf extract, and mesquite powder. 

    Erythritol is a very popular zero-calorie sweetener that is naturally found in pears, mushrooms, and other plants and has a 0 glycemic index. It's easy for most people to digest (unlike many other keto-friendly sweeteners), and has the added benefit of preventing tooth decay.

    Stevia leaf extract also has a 0 glycemic index. As I mentioned, combining stevia with the right blend of other keto-friendly sweeteners can mask its bitter aftertaste, which is what The Good Chocolate has done.

    Mesquite powder is a traditional Native American product made from the ripened and ground seeds from the seed pods of the mesquite tree. Although traditionally used as an alternative to flour in sweet baked goods and breads, it has gained wider popularity as a "super food." In addition to adding a natural, subtle sweetness to foods, mesquite powder (sometimes called mesquite pod meal) also is high in fiber and protein, and has a very low glycemic index (25).

    Even a Single Square Is a Deliciously Satisfying Indulgence

    Each bar of The Good Chocolate is scored into six generously sized, squarish sections (approximately 1½ inches by 1 11/16 inches). If I wanted to, I could eat an entire bar in one sitting and still stay within my daily net carbs and calories for maintaining my nearly 60-pound weight loss (currently 59 pounds). However, I almost never do, because this brand is so rich and delicious, has such an intense chocolate flavor, and doesn't trigger my former addictive sugar cravings.

    Unwrapped bar of The Good Chocolate dark chocolate

    So, when I am in the mood for a piece, I break off one of the six sections, then fold over the elegant silver-lined gold foil wrapper and slide the rest of The Good Chocolate bar back into its heavy paper envelope-style pouch, with its distinctive cover art and graphic design. 

    I savor the section I broke off, nibbling off small pieces and letting each one rest on my tongue for a few seconds to warm a bit before I consume it. By the time I have slowly worked my way to the last little bite, I'm usually satisfied. 

    Occasionally, however, I may decide to indulge in a second piece, if I want one. It always feels like a guilty pleasure, even though there is nothing to feel guilty about!

    Sophisticated Flavor Choices to Please Any Palate

    Most of The Good Chocolate bars are 65% cacao dark chocolate. My favorites include Himalayan Salt, Mint, Ginger, and Salted Caramel, although they also made their plain 65% cacao Signature Dark Chocolate bars.

    Currently, there is also a limited-edition  Coconut & Turmeric Detox Bar, a 65% cacao dark chocolate bar with developed in collaboration with model and actress Charlotte McKinney and filled with delicious, nutrition-packed superfoods.

    The brand also makes a 54% cacao "Dark Milk Chocolate. At the moment, there is also a limited-edition 58% Double Crunch Vegan Milk Bar (which they also refer to as "mylk" chocolate).

    I believe that, other than the "Dark Milk Chocolate" bars, all the other bars are vegan. 

    Lower in Calories and Net Carbs Than Similar Dark Chocolate Bars

    Here's a high-level nutrition data comparison between The Good Chocolate's 65% Signature Dark Chocolate and two other popular brands of dark chocolate, Lindt 64% Dark Chocolate, and Lily's 70% Dark Chocolate (nutrition data pulled from TGC's website).

    The Good Chocolate
    65% Cacao
    Lindt
    64% Cacao
    Lily's
    70% Cacao
    Sugar (%) 0 37 1
    Sugar (Teaspoons) 0 6 0
    Net Carbs
    (Total Carbs
    minus Fiber & Erythritol)
    2 26 6
    Calories 227 397 289

    Buying Ethically Sourced Chocolate Protects Impoverished Farmers, Children, and Refugees

    Against Dangerous Work, Slave Labor, and Human Trafficking

    Nearly two-thirds of the world's cocoa beans are produced in West Africa's Côte D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana. Indonesia has become another top cocoa producer.

    Tragically, cacao production has long been notorious for the worst forms of forced labor, child labor, and hazardous child labor, sometimes a result of human trafficking. Unfortunately, many cacao bean farmers are paid less than $1 a day for this dangerous, backbreaking work, and can't afford to hire additional laborers to help. Instead, of allowing their children to go to school, they use them as unpaid, forced labor so their family can survive.

    The customers for most of this production are large, global chocolate corporations, including Mars, Nestlé, The Hershey Company, and Mondelez International (formerly Kraft foods), and others. Although most have policies prohibiting forced labor practices in their supply chain, those policies are hard to enforce because, for the most part, they don't purchase directly from the cacao bean farmers.

    Currently, seven of the world's biggest chocolate companies have been named in a landmark class-action lawsuit in which they are accused of "aiding and abetting the illegal enslavement of 'thousands' of children on cocoa farms in their supply chains" by eight children who claim to have been forced to work as slave labor on Côte D'Ivoire cocoa plantations. 

    The Good Chocolate Is Ethically and Sustainably Sourced and Packaged

    The best way to help break this terrible, systemic cycle of inhumane practices is for consumers to buy their chocolate from smaller, bean-to-bar producers who have more control over their supply chain than these huge corporations, so they are better able to promote ethical, humane, and not only socially but also environmentally responsible business practices. 

    One of the easiest way to find these smaller, craft chocolate makers who are committed to ethical sourcing is to look for brands that are organic, fair trade, direct trade, and/or Rainforest Alliance certified

    • Whenever possible, The Good Chocolate purchases Fair Trade or Rain Forest Alliance certified cacao beans.
    • The company uses only 100% certified organic cacao beans and cacao butter in its bars.
    • It is also committed to sustainable farming practices and is working with its cacao suppliers to reach 100% sustainability as the company grows.

    The company also worked with some forward-thinking companies develop cost-effective, renewable packaging solutions that can be recycled or composted.

    The Good Chocolate takes its name and mission to heart, "to create delicious chocolate that is [not only] good for you, but also good for the planet." As the website states, "We may spend a little more time, effort and money on renewable packaging, but we hope that our effort, care and responsibility will inspire others and leave the planet a little better off along our way." Source

    More Expensive, But Worth It

    The Good Chocolate makes premium, small-batch, chocolate bars made with 100% certified organic cacao beans and cacao butter, as well as the blend of erythritol, stevia leaf extract, and mesquite powder, sweeteners that all cost significantly more than cane sugar. 

    The company also is committed to following ethical, humane business practices in an industry known for terrible physical, moral, and financial abuses of vulnerable populations, paying a fair price for the cacao beans and cacao butter it purchases, and practicing social and environmental responsibility to protect our future as well as our present.

    As a result, these extremely high quality, no sugar dark chocolate bars cost more than some of the high-quality, 100% organic dark chocolate bars sold in Whole Foods Market and similar stores. When I first read about The Good Chocolate and looked into the company and its products, I thought charging $7.50 for a bar of dark chocolate was outrageous (unless the gold foil wrapper was made of real gold!). So, the only reason I decided to buy a 6-bar assortment was that, at the time, there was a promotion that offered a significant discount on your first order. 

    I never thought I would even consider ordering more at full price after I finished the six bars from that introductory offer. However, as soon as I taste this new-to-me brand, it immediately became apparent that this premium, sophisticated candy was head-and-shoulders above any other healthy, sugar-free chocolate I had tried. Also, because it was so rich, dark, and delicious, I found that just one section of a bar of The Good Chocolate was enough to satisfy me. That meant that I could indulge in a generously sized square from time to time for $1.25 per serving which, while still pricy, cost less than the 1/3 to 1/2 bar serving of one of the high quality, organic, fair trade chocolate bars I used to buy before I eliminated sugar from my diet. 

    Now Available on Amazon With Prime FREE Delivery!

    The Good Chocolate just launched on Amazon. So, in addition to Amazone Prime Free Delivery, if you try The Good Chocolate and love it as much as I do, you can save up to 5% with Subscribe & Save (or 10% on your first Subscribe & Save subscription). You can also choose your auto-delivery frequency, as often as every two weeks to as seldom as every six months. 

    I highly recommend ordering The Good Chocolate Bar Variety Pack first, which includes six 2.5-ounce (70g) chocolate bars, including all five flavors of 65% Dark Chocolate (Signature Dark, Himalayan Salt, Mint, Ginger, Salted Almonds) and a 54% Dark Milk Chocolate. It's the perfect way to sample their core flavors and pick your favorites before placing another order. 



    Product Review: The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate by Margaret Schindel


    Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

    The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

    Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

    The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

    The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

    Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

    Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

    Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

    Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

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