An avid triathlon athlete, Amy Yockel was looking for ways to increase her stamina for competitions. During her research, she met a natural hygienist, Arthur Andrews, now in his 80s. "I asked him what was a good diet for athletes," says Amy. "He told me to eat only fresh, whole fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and I thought he was crazy! 'How do you get your protein?' How was I going to run triathlon on just that, I thought. He gave me two books to read: Superior Nutrition and Fasting Can Save Your Life by Herbert Shelton--and my life has never been the same."
The books made so much sense to Amy that she jumped into the raw food regimen with gusto. "I went from eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) diet to a 100% raw food diet overnight. Man, was it tough. It actually hurt my performance in the triathlon because I felt so tired and weak. This is why I donít recommend trying to go raw overnight."
At some point we all learn what Aristotle taught: moderation in all things--even raw fooding. "I used to be so strict with my raw food diet that it turned into an obsessive eating disorder," says Amy. "Now I want people to remember me for me, and not what I put into my mouth. Obsessing over how 'Raw' you are, or how 'Not Raw' you are, does not reflect the kind of person you are. Everyone is unique, and everyone is here on this planet for a purpose. Everyone must go at their own pace and what may work for someone may not for someone else. Listen to your heart, your body and trust God and you'll be just fine."
When inspiration leads to fanaticism, there's usually an emotional component, and this can be particularly pronounced around the subject of eating. "I try to be conscious of my emotions instead of eating over them," says Amy. "Overeating is so hard on our bodies. I try to educate myself as much as possible and just have fun. I also want to remind everyone that we are all beautiful no matter what shape or size we are."
Within raw fooding circles, the transitioning period is of utmost importance. It is during this time that most people who begin decide to stop, usually due to emotions of deprivation, or unexpected social stigmas in their inner circles of friends and family. Amy cleverly addresses both of these issues with her scrumptious raw chocolate treat: 1) If you can eat chocolate on this raw food diet, then it's hard to feel deprived; and 2) Friends and family may curb their judgments when they taste the variety a raw diet can embrace. "Diabetics--people who need low glycemic foods--this is something that is definitely up their ally, because it's made with agave nectar, which is also a low-glycemic sugar. The enzymes are there, and it hasn't been processed in any way," says Amy. "I don't recommend eating 20 boxes at one time; that would not be so healthy! I tell everybody it's a treat that can be eaten in moderation and you won't have any ill effects, but it is very rich. It's a dessert, so you eat three or four pieces--but it's kind of hard to just stop at that, though."
Amy's own raw fooding experience led her to a job, working at the Good Mood Cafe in "Surf City, USA," Huntington Beach, California. Now exposed to all the possibilities of a raw food diet, Amy was inspired to create her own chocolate dessert. "It was originally a friend's recipe," says Amy. "But I just kept playing with it, thinking, 'I'm going to make it better.' I started making it for potlucks, and my friends told me, 'You've really got to market this!' I would make it in small containers at first--for Christmas presents, and such. I got inspired from my friends, basically, and it took off from there. They're selling it in the cafe, and everyone there loved it. It's a novelty dessert--definitely melts in your mouth!"
Word of the yummy treat reached the cafe proprietors, and they offered their kitchen for Amy's chocolate production, and Raw Goddess Chocolate was up and running, requiring Amy to do considerable packaging research and invention. "Originally my idea was to have a tray, like an ice cube tray, where you could pour the chocolate in and have it already be in its mold, with some kind of lid over it so it could be shipped unfrozen. That way when you get it, it might be a little melty, but then you stick it in the freezer, the chocolate hardens up again, and it'll pop right out of the tray like ice cubes. I have found the chocolate does look presentable when it melts and thaws and then refreezes. Right now, the chocolate must be kept cold during shipment because it's main ingredient, coconut butter, melts at room temperature."
Amy is particularly inspired by the use of the oft-misunderstood ingredient, coconut oil. "A lot of people think, you know, I can't have that. It's so high in cholesterol. I always tell people, How can anything that comes from Nature be bad for you? Everything in moderation, of course."
Popular Internet health guru, Dr. Mercola, has worked to dispel much of the misinformation about the oil: "Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception that coconut oil is bad for you because it contains saturated fat. Close to two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which have antimicrobial properties, are easily digested by the body for quick energy, and are beneficial to the immune system. Far from being dangerous, the saturated fat in coconut oil is actually health promoting." [ARTICLE]
Raw Goddess Chocolate got its early boost from a famous raw fooding popularist and entrepreneur, David Wolfe. His company, Nature's First Law, contracted with Amy for a special version of her recipe using raw cacao bean in conjunction with her carob powder in place of the usual carob alone. "He was in the Netherlands doing a lecture," says Amy, "And he talked about this new product they have. The people there didn't even try a sample--they just ordered 500 boxes!"
Because this chocolate is soooo delightful, any palate loves it, so Amy is approaching mainstream local and regional retail stores about carrying it, and eventually hopes to introduce her chocolate into large national chains, such as Wild Oats, Whole Foods, and similar stores. Meanwhile, Amy keeps dreaming up new formulas. "I'm going more for different flavors of chocolate, like mint, which I have out now, and probably banana and raspberry will come out shortly. Yum!"